A Jar of Oil
The widow of one of the prophets cried to Elisha, “Your servant my husband is dead, and now creditors come to take my two children as slaves.” Elisha said to her, “Tell me, what do you have in the house?” She answered, “Nothing except a jar of oil.” – 2 Kings 4:1-2
Let’s not pretend with one another that loving God means you will never be broke. Let’s not repeat the lie that you are guaranteed to have plenty so long as you serve God.
Because I’m not the only person of faith who ignores the 1-800 numbers of creditors calling.
Bad things do happen to good people. Bad circumstances. Bad relationships. Bad environments. Bad credit. And you’re on the hook for dealing with the consequences, regardless of whether it was your fault or not. Rise to the occasion. Repair your heart. Fight the system. Reassess your budget. Use whatever you have and do the best you can.
Even if it’s just a jar of oil.
Devastated by the death of her husband, the widow now faces compounding crises. She is not well-off; prophetic work doesn’t exactly come with a pension and life insurance. The stress of calling creditors keeps her awake at night. And now the worst of all nightmares: they will tear her children from her, enslave them for their own profits.
What good is taking nothing with you if everything has already been ripped from you?
If there’s really nothing, or the threat of nothing, then fight like hell to not be alone, at least.
Cry out to those who will listen. Call for community. Protest against those who would separate you from love and loved ones. Resist the despair that lies to you when it says nothing means no one.
Bring your jar of oil, and stay together.
Let there be love and companions along this weary way, O God.
Rachel Hackenberg serves on the national staff for the United Church of Christ. She is the author of Writing to God and Denial Is My Spiritual Practice, among other titles. Her blog is Faith and Water.