Scripture Reference: 2 Kings 4:1-7
If there’s one thing this unfortunate pandemic of COVID-19 has shown us, it’s that God is capable of doing more with less (whether it’s actually less or we just perceive it to be). In seasons like this, when it can easily feel like we don’t have enough or that our cups are seemingly empty, God can perform miracles. We may not know the outcome of tomorrow, but we do have proof that He has a history of providing a blessing right when it seems we have nothing left. Our only responsibility, even in it’s difficulty, is to be obedient to His directions and have faith.
The story of the widow’s oil is a perfect example of this. A woman who lost her husband, was left in debt to creditors and desperate to save her sons from being taken into slavery to clear their father’s debt. The situation was even more disheartening because her husband was a believer and follower of God (2 Kings 4:1).
Imagine her cries: “God, we have given EVERYTHING! I followed my husband that feared and honored you and now we have nothing!” How many times can you honestly say you’ve felt that emotion in some way? Maybe you’ve looked at your bank account after tithing (following the word of God) and were still unsure of how the bills would get paid; or you stepped out on faith to start the business only for the clients to not come as planned; or just as the promotion came through a global pandemic hit leaving you unemployed.
Digest that for a moment.
We may know this widow with the oil more than we initially recognized.
After receiving notice that the creditors were coming to collect on her husband’s debt, the women cried out to Elisha (Prophet, a man of God) with great concern for help. He responded, “How can I help you? Tell me, what do you have in your house?” Two questions. She replied that there was nothing but a little oil. This was just enough for the lesson ahead and the solution to her challenge. Elisha wanted to show the woman how God can still perform miracles with a “little bit” if she would be willing to believe and walk by faith.
“Skin-in-the-game” is a phrase that many investors use when inquiring about how much money or sweat equity a person presenting the offer (requesting help) has placed in a project before they consider financially investing. This seeming lack of resources for the woman with oil was just the amount of skin-in-the-game needed for a miraculous help from God. What she lacked in financial resources would be completed by the demonstration of her faith.
So, what do you do when you feel you have nothing?
Take inventory: There’s always something left.
When questioned by Elisha, the woman with the oil stated, “your servant has nothing there at all, except a small jar of olive.” That small jar of olive oil was enough for God to deliver a solution to her problem. Where do you find yourself using the word “except” to describe what you do and don’t have? Have you truly looked at what you have? Have you been overlooking your solution because you are overwhelmed with emotion? Oddly as it may sound, in the middle of a global pandemic we have seen people take ideas to help address challenges and generate income. Apparel companies like Diyanu found a new accessory to incorporate in their African inspired clothing line: beautifully printed masks to match your outfit and comply with COVID-19 regulations. Real estate developers are finding ways to keep their houses in demand by incorporating designs that fit families working and educating their children from home. Fitness instructors who only did in-person, one-on-one sessions are using virtual technology to not only provide the same service for their client’s from home, but to expand their market and increase their clientele. What do they all have in common? They figured out what they had left and pivoted during what appeared to be a season of lack. You are capable of doing the same.
Choose to Believe: God will use other people to bless you.
From the beginning God declared that it was not good for man to be alone (Gen. 2:18). You may have heard the proverb, “it takes a village to raise a child.” We were designed to be resources and support for each other. Elisha directed the woman to borrow many vessels, return home, shut the door with sons inside, and fill the vessels with oil (2 Kings 4:3-4). In order to follow his directions, she had to put her pride (the thief of joy) aside. This meant putting her faith in action, and not focusing on what others would say, or even possessing knowledge of the next steps before deciding to believe.
Since the woman had oil but lacked the vessels, she would need to borrow from others. In the financial and real estate industry we call this strategy, “Other People’s Money” (OPM). The businesses you patronize, the houses you live in, and even the schools your children attend were not established solely off of the one person that had the idea to create it. They all required the dreamer or person with the challenge to share their vision with others, present concepts, and accept money (loans or grants) to see the idea be manifested. Is it scary sharing your ideas or need for help? Will you likely encounter a “no” (or series of them)? The answer to both is YES. This is where God is stretching your faith and it’s important that you adjust your thought process so that you can better see what you really have to offer: an invitation for someone to get involved in God’s plans, an opportunity for a financial return greater than the norm, or a chance to be a part of change.
Remember, what money provides access to in the physical, faith provides access to in the spiritual. The greater the faith, the more access we have to God and all that He has for us. The more we abide in Him, our access is unlimited (John 15:7).
Sometimes It’s Necessary: Shut the door and keep pouring the oil.
After she borrowed the vessels and returned home, Elisha instructed the woman to shut the door. There are many reasons to shut the door, especially when you’re seeking a miracle from God. You may have to shut the door to those who just want to know your business, to your haters, or for the actual manifestation of the miracle. I can tell you the miracles that occured during my journey of entrepreneurship often happened in private moments. Actually, the foundational years required me to spend less time with family members and friends, reduce my time attending social gatherings, hone my craft and doing it all in prayer. I realized that the moment when I allowed people into that sacred space too soon, it led to a doubting of myself and God’s promises. However, when I operated intentionally in seasons of silence or “shutting the door” my creativity kept flowing like the oil; I was more productive in my various tasks and I could hear the Holy Spirit more clearly. The risk I took was based on heavenly direction rather than operating out of the doubt of my peers. Elisha knew that people seeing the woman in her emotional state–trying to do something that looked impossible–was not for the public eye; it could interfere with her faith and the flow of the oil. This could then essentially become a barrier to the final step he had for her problem to be solved.
Are you in a “shut the door” season? Are you sharing too soon for the approval of others rather than the obedience of God? If so, shut the door and know it’s perfectly okay to do so for this purpose.
Accept It: You won’t know all the steps
Let’s think about this for a moment….
A woman emotionally hurt by the loss of her husband’s death and about to lose her sons to slavery as settlement for his unpaid debts, must borrow from others to solve her problem. This means she’ll need to somehow stretch the oil she already feels is insignificant, and then figure out how she’ll sell it to not only pay off her creditors but to also provide for her family. Just writing that felt like a lot.
This is why God doesn’t reveal the steps to our assignment all at once. We would spend more time thinking about whether we qualify for the assignment than allowing God to qualify us along the way. If we think about some of the women and men in the bible that God used for His greatest miracles, not one of them knew all the steps before they got started. Noah didn’t know how many years he would have to build an ark. Abraham didn’t know what land God was taking him to or how the journey would be. Queen Esther didn’t think that she would become Queen and one day save her people from being killed. David didn’t know his time as a shepherd boy was training to kill a giant and later become King. Do you see the pattern?
We must truly trust God and His ordered steps…and make our oil stretch. No matter how small it may appear, God never leaves us with nothing. It may require us seeking coaching or mentoring, or more fasting and prayer so that it can be made clear to us, but trust that there is indeed something left.
This may be a season of the impossible to the eyes of man, but for God the possibilities are unlimited.
Joanna Jane is a licensed financial professional, real estate developer, and most importantly a woman of God. If you would like to schedule a financial planning consultation or join any of her wealth development programs, click to schedule your appointment today.
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