Compassion Through a Crooked Stick

One of the wives of the sons of the prophets cried out to Elisha, “Your servant, my husband, has died. You know that your servant feared the Lord. Now the creditor is coming to take my two children as his slaves.”

Elisha asked her, “What can I do for you? Tell me, what do you have in the house?”

She said, “Your servant has nothing in the house except a jar of oil.”

Then he said, “Go out and borrow empty containers from all your neighbors. Do not get just a few. Then go in and shut the door behind you and your sons, and pour oil into all these containers. Set the full ones to one side.” So she left.

After she had shut the door behind her and her sons, they kept bringing her containers, and she kept pouring. When they were full, she said to her son, “Bring me another container.”

But he replied, “There aren’t any more.” Then the oil stopped.

She went and told the man of God, and he said, “Go sell the oil and pay your debt; you and your sons can live on the rest.”

2 Kings 4:1-7

In spite of the times when Elisha may have given into the darker side of his personality, the majority of the miracles performed in Elisha’s life were done for positive Kingdom purposes. 2 Kings 4 contains many prime examples of the good ways that Elisha used the power that God gave him. The opening story of this chapter shows how God used Elisha to demonstrate His compassion for a widow and her sons in a time of great need.

The situation appears to be dire. The woman’s husband had recently passed away, apparently with some debts yet unpaid. In this culture, this woman was in a very vulnerable position. The creditor was coming to take her two sons as slaves in payment of the debt. Without her husband or her sons, this woman would have no one to provide for her. So she needed God’s intervention to help her in this time of crisis.

God took the little she had available, a single jar of oil, and gave her a way to multiply that to help her pay off the debt. At Elisha’s instruction, she collected as many empty containers from her neighbors as she could. She then poured that single jar of oil into these containers. The oil did not dry up until there were no more containers left to fill. Elisha then told her to sell the oil and pay off the debt.

If we are open to His work, God may give us opportunities to bless others in the time of crisis too. It may not be as miraculous as multiplying an endless supply of oil. Still, there are ways God has gifted us to bring relief to those in the midst of crisis.

  • In what ways may God be calling you to help someone else in a time of crisis?

Published by llongard

I grew up in northeast Wisconsin. After high school, I moved to Minneapolis, MN to attend North Central University and graduated 1992 with a degree in Biblical Studies and Humanities. I spent most of the next fifteen years in the Twin Cities area until my family and I moved to Indiana in 2007. For most of the first seventeen years after college, I was involved in university ministry either as a volunteer, bi-vocational, or full-time campus minister. Through those years, I also worked in the main street marketplace as a retail manager/trainer and as a service representative in the insurance industry. I've also worked in various education roles. Most recently, I have been working on various projects addressing homelessness in Indianapolis and as team lead for Diakonos Community, a Communitas International missional initiative. Through this ministry, we seek to build missional communities in Indianapolis that serve and bring the life of Christ to those on the margins of society. Our strategy is to collaborate with community agencies that serve those in need and share Christ through meaningful relationships. I am blessed with a wonderful wife, three amazing daughters, and two cats (can't forget the cats, LOL). As a family, we enjoy camping, hiking, gardening, and going to the YMCA together. I also enjoy fishing, riding bicycle, and being involved in whatever my daughters are doing. Though I have not lived in the Green Bay area for over 20 years, I am still a major Packer fan.

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