Thursday, May 2, 2013

II Kings 4-5: Three women of means...



There are three gals in these chapters.  They have little in common except that they have no idea how truly wealthy they are.
The prophet's widow comes to Elisha at the brink of catastrophe.  Her husband has died and her sons are to be sold as slaves to pay off their debt.  That will leave her with no means for her own needs and no heritage for her family.  Elisha asks her what she has, and it ain't much--a small cask of oil.  What she forgets is that she also has a large extended family of friends.  She also has a God who cares for widows and orphans in their distress.  The friends provide the jars; God provides the oil; the widow and her sons provide the labor.  Her needs are met both for the present and the future.  In the process, she begins to see all that God has provided rather than all she has lost.  She is truly wealthy.

The second woman is a gifted hostess.  Elisha and Gehazi stop by her home frequently to eat as they travel and she makes a point to prepare a permanent room for them.  She appears to have everything she needs including an overabundance that allows her to be generous.  When Elisha wants to give her something in return, she can't even think of something she needs.  It is Gehazi that points out the obvious--she has no children.  In her culture, she could have everything material she could ever want but without a child, she is still considered accursed and destitute.  When Elisha tells her this will change, we glimpse her heart.  She is content in her life and has reconciled herself to barrenness--but this is no joking matter.  It hurts to even consider the pain she has put aside so many years ago.  Within a year she does have a son and her hope is fulfilled.  Can you imagine the joy at his birth?  Can you imagine the potential for despair as he dies in her arms?  This time, she refuses to even speak the unspeakable!  Is her hope gone again too?  Her actions speak volumes.  Her son was a miracle to begin with so she goes to the source--she tells her husband all is well and refuses to speak to anyone but Elisha.  When she finally reaches him, she collapses at Elisha's feet and all of her pain and fears tumble out of her broken heart.  Elisha responds immediately and wrestles the boy's life from the very jaws of death, joyfully returning the promised son to his mom.  She may have been financially prosperous, but her true wealth was in the loyalty of her friend and pastor, her restraint and meager hope, and in the God who can give, take away and give back the most precious things in life. Her faith, though it is small, is what makes her wealthy beyond measure.

The third girl is just a child--a child who has been ripped from her homeland by forces beyond her control.  Israel has disobeyed God over and over and the outcome is defeat in warfare--and she is a casualty.  She has lost everything:  her family, her home, her way of life, all possessions, even her own dignity.  You would think that she might rejoice at the suffering of her master since she has suffered so much.  Her spirit is not so impoverished.  Though she has lost much, she has not lost her God and she knows what He can do, even for an uncircumcised Syrian warlord.  She has enough faith to point her mistress to the only place they can find hope.  As a result, her master is not only healed, but his heart is set apart as a worshipper of the only true God.  Notice that he admits to Elisha that his position obligates him to support others as they worship idols, but his heart is not there any longer.  The wealth of her faith overflowed and through an experience with a real God, her faith is imparted to her master.  This is wealth no one can take away. 

It is not circumstances or attitude that make us wealthy.  It is reliance on the infinite wealth of God's presence and power.  Though each of these women may have seemed impoverished to the world around them, their God made them wealthy in the only things that really count. 

What about you?  Do you see the circumstances that leave you unfulfilled or the God that provides for all of your needs according to His abundance?  What can you do today to overflow what God has given you into others?