Overwhelmed Person of the Week #1—Widow and mother of two, deep in debt.
I identify with this unnamed mother in II Kings 4:1-7 because like her, I have two sons. But her life has taken a tragic turn. Her husband has died, and she is in such deep debt that the creditors are threatening to take her boys as slaves to satisfy the debt.
This woman is totally overwhelmed by life’s circumstances—and rightfully so. She has lost her husband. She has lost her source of income—meager as it probably was. And she is faced with losing her two sons. She is truly in desperate straits.
This passage in II Kings also tells us her husband was a prophet with Elisha and he feared the Lord. In the opening scene she is going to Elisha for help.
The Prophet Elisha asks her two questions:
- “What can I do to help you?”
- Tell me, what do you have in your house?”
We experience the total depth of this woman’s poverty when she answers Elisha and says, “Nothing at all, except a flask of olive oil.”
Elisha tells this destitute mother to borrow as many empty jars as she can from friends and neighbors. “Then go into your house with your sons and shut the door behind you. Pour olive oil from your flask into the jars, setting the jars aside as they are filled.”
She did involve her sons in this project. We don’t know how old they were, but we do know there were old enough to help her and probably knew that their welfare was at stake. Her sons brought her jar after jar, which she filled with the oil. Finally, one son told her there were no vessels left, and the Bible says, “Then the oil stopped multiplying” (4:6, Amplified).
The widow found Elisha and told him the jars were filled. He told her, “Now sell the olive oil and pay your debts, and there will be enough money left over to support you and your sons.”
What a remarkable story. This woman definitely went from Overwhelmed to Victorious! But it was because of the intervention of a very compassionate, powerful God. The woman had to lay aside her fear and respond to Elisha’s command in faith before she could move from overwhelmed to victorious. And that she did. But the provision came from God.
That same God who met the widow’s needs has not changed. He is here today to meet our needs.
We can learn valuable lessons from this woman.
- God hears our cries, just as Elisha heard the widow’s cry.
- Oftentimes, He asks us to take inventory of our resources. Elisha asked the widow, “Tell me, what do you have in the house?” In Matthew 15:34, Jesus asks the disciples, when confronted with the hungry multitude, “How many loaves do you have?” God isn’t asking the disciples what they have because He needs to know—He asks because they need to know. They need to understand the depth of their need, and they need to articulate it to God.
- Then, God often uses the very meager resources we offer Him as the springboard for providing abundantly beyond all that we could ask or think. God multiplied the widow’s oil to such an extent that the widow was able to sell it, pay her debts, keep her sons, and support them. Jesus multiplied the bread and fish, fed thousands, and had baskets left over.
Are you overwhelmed like this widow was?
Do you feel inadequate to handle all that homeschooling requires? Do you lack the resources to buy the curriculum that you need? Are you faced with debt or more mouths to feed than you can possibly accommodate?
Take stock of what you have and don’t have. Be honest about your limitations. Then take your needs to God. Cry out to Him. Then watch as He takes your very inadequate resources and multiplies them to meet your needs, allowing you to minister to those around you. God is faithful and able.
Like the widow, God can move you from overwhelmed to victorious.
In all these things we are more than victorious through Him who loved us.
Romans 8:37 (HCSB)
Read the introduction to this blog series: SERIES INTRODUCTION: FROM OVERWHELMED TO VICTORIOUS