by Martin Leow Yew Chong
8 November 2009

During the course of us wandering about in this world, we are faced with certain and many challenges. Some of us are faced with unexpected loss of loves ones, sudden retrenchment, financial loss, partnership breakup and such likes. Under such circumstances, it would only be human for us to question why such things happen to us. We struggle to make sense of it and answers don’t come up. We are like Job wondering what happened and what to make out of it. God doesn’t answer all our questions as to why certain life’s challenges are put in our path, but He leaves us with a certainty that He is in control and knows what we need even before we ask Him

In 2Kings 4:1-7, God left us an account of a widow whose husband died leaving her with 2 young boys. Late husband was a prophet, equivalent to modern minister/preacher. We also learnt that she had a creditor who was now demanding for repayment in cash or kind. She had sold everything of worth in her possession and now had only a jar of oil.

We note her desperation when God records it as she cried out to Elisha and states that “your servant” and “feared the LORD”. It seems like she is stating that it is so unfair to her that despite her husband being a God-fearing man yet his family, namely her, should be left in such a strait. Also the “jar of oil” left in her possession seems to indicate that she might have contemplated suicide as a mean of escape. See 1Kings 17:12.


God through Elisha asked what does she wants Him to do for her and without waiting for her response, enquired what she had in the house. The reply and her action tell us a few things that we must learn and remember.


First, God does care when He provides her with a solution i.e. “Go, borrow vessels from everywhere, from all your neighbors–empty vessels; do not gather just a few. And when you have come in, you shall shut the door behind you and your sons; then pour it into all those vessels, and set aside the full ones.” The solution God gave doesn’t seem logical and of immediate help in alleviating her problem, but that is God’s answer. Question is whether the woman accepts it, and indirectly do we accept it when we are provided with the same solution. She seeks God in her desperation, and God was there for her. Christ is here with us as He had promise to be with us always even to the end of the age (Matt 28:20 & Rom 8:38, 39)

Second, the woman did as she was told, by setting off to do the task immediately. Notice that she doesn’t bemoan her situation in life anymore. She now needed to gather many vessels from all her neighbors, and her sons are to help her in this work. Question: do we continually bemoan the circumstances where we are thrown in, and then grudgingly set out to act on the solution? Please notice that she actually gathered many vessels as instructed. Compare her with Joash, King of Israel who was given instruction to shoot the arrows, yet shot only 3 to the great dismay of Elisha (2Kings 13:15-19). As a church and members thereof, are we like King Joash who shot 3 arrows or the woman who gathered from all her neighbors, when it comes to acting on God’s instruction?

Third, she managed to leave her past behind and focus on the future (cf Phil 3:13). This is so important for the recovery of anyone who is depressed and suffering from grief. Until and unless we let go of the past, we can never act on God’s promises nor can we ever be useful vessels of honor for God. Look around, how many friends that we know who failed to move forward because of refusal to let go. It is not easy to let GO but we must let go. Paul wrote saying we shouldn’t let anger rest in us beyond the setting sun (Eph 4:26), that means letting go. When God forgives us, He remembers our sins no more, God moves forward on us, can we not move forward for His sake? (Heb 8:12, Isaiah 43:25)

Finally, God not only met the woman’s immediate need, i.e. to pay off the creditor but also left more for her and her two sons to live on for the future. So wonderful is the providence of God that it boggles the mind. The apostles couldn’t comprehend it when Jesus fed the 5,000 and 4,000 (Matt 14:16-21 & 15:33-38) and had many leftovers. So it is with many of us. We can’t believe that God can do such miracles in our lives. It reminds us of the scene between Luke Skywalker was training to be a Jedi under Yoda and Luke failed to lift the plane from the marsh and this was what Luke said “I can’t believe it” and Yoda replied “That is why you fail” The world recognize this truth but we, children of God, can’t lift the plane. Can we believe this (1 Cor 2:9)

“Eye has not seen, nor ear heard,

Nor have entered into the heart of man

The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”

Brethren, let us cast all our anxieties upon God for He cares for us. Let us move on with our task and reach out to all our neighbors and not a few only. Let us let go of the past, no matter how painful it is, just as God has forgotten our past. Let us move forward and move into the things which God has prepared for us.