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A Miracle in Your Mess
Have you ever found yourself in a mess and you can’t see a way out? There are relationship messes, financial messes and legal messes to name a few. Sometimes we are in a mess because we “messed up”, other times we’re caught up in a world or turmoil or disarray that is beyond our control.
In the Bible (1 Kings 4:1-7) there is a story of a woman who was in a serious predicament. Her husband had died, and she had no means of support. As a result, she had borrowed heavily to survive and now the creditors were coming to take the only asset she had, her two sons. She was in a serious mess, but amid the mess was a miracle waiting for her.
Here is the big idea from this story: when you see yourself in a mess, God sees you in a miracle zone! If you want to find your miracle in your mess, ask yourself the following questions:
1. Do I believe God really cares about me?
We usually don’t have a problem believing that God cares about others, but we struggle with believing God really cares about us personally.
The woman in this story was in a miserable state. She was overwhelmed, her back was against the wall, she was at the end of her rope, and she was literally running on empty. Her husband was dead, she was grieving his loss, she had two sons who were too young to work, she was in poverty, and the creditors wanted to take her sons into slavery.
But what we discover about this woman is that she believed God really cared, especially for those in trouble, so she turned to God for help. At this point, she could have gone to many different offices for help. She could have gone to a banker’s office for a loan to consolidate her debt, or an adoption office to find someone else to raise her boys, or to a lawyer’s office for some pro bono legal help, but instead, she went to the prophet’s office. She needed a miracle, and the prophet was the one who could help her find a miracle in the mess. So, in her emptiness, this widow visits Elisha the prophet and explains her situation. She believed God really cared about her, in all her brokenness and mess. As we read in Psalm 34:18: The Lord is close to the broken hearted; He rescues those whose spirits are crushed.
2. Am I willing to ask for help?
If we are unwilling to ask for help, we are likely to stay in our mess. Grace and favour are always found in humility.
When the widow went to Elisha, she gave him all the information that he needed to accurately understand the situation and give her good counsel. She didn’t try to hide anything. What she was about to lose, was too valuable to play around with the truth.
Often when people are in a mess, they try to hide certain things from their counsellor. This is true with financial problems, marriage problems, and family problems. There is that pride factor that we don’t want somebody else to know all the dirt about us, even though it is that dirt that may have gotten us into the mess, to begin with. And it is that dirt that we’re going to have to get rid of if we’re going to find a resolution to the problem. Too often, we would rather look good than look for a solution.
Not only did she ask the prophet for help, but she also received help from her neighbors as she asked to borrow vessels from them. She did not have money, but she was obviously rich in relationships. Elisha had not told her the whole plan, so she exercised great trust and faith in getting the jars from her neighbors. I wonder what was going through her mind as she meekly asked for help. This woman receives a miracle in her mess because she humbled herself and asked for help.
3. What is in my house that I can offer to God?
After explaining her situation to the prophet, he asked her, “What do you have in your house?” To which she replied, “Nothing, but a jar of oil.” Elisha then tells her to go and collect all the borrowed vessels from her neighbors. It is important to note that she didn’t second-guess the prophet, there was no complaining or pity party. It would seem to make more sense for Elisha just to give her some money to relieve her situation.
After collecting the vessels, she was probably wondering, “Now what?”. Again, she sought counsel from a man who was in touch with God. Following the prophet’s instruction, the boys and her began to pour the oil out of her jar into the borrowed vessels. It was then that the miracle in her mess took place, the oil did not run out until every jar was filled.
Elijah now tells her to sell the oil, which means more work. If you have ever sold anything for a living, you know sales takes a lot of effort. The oil in her day was olive oil. It was used for cosmetics, medicine, cooking, protect iron from rusting, fuel for lighting, to anoint the dead, and many other uses. The widow would now sell the oil, pay off the debts and then live off the rest. This miracle cleaned up her mess.
Like the widow woman, what we have is enough for God! Our little is more than enough for God to do a miracle with – if we offer it to Him. A miracle always starts with a seed of faith and our heart is the soil of expectancy for that seed. Perhaps we need to stop waiting for what we need and start looking at what we have to offer God.
4. Do I want a handout or a hand-up?
Elisha put a widow into the oil business. This is not simply a handout but a way for her to get into business for herself. The best way to help someone is to improve what they already have. God works to give us a hand up, so we are not dependent on handouts and form a welfare society.
Many people feel they need outside money, resources, talents and so forth to reach their dream. But with God, He always looks for us to first wholly surrender what we have so He might bless it. The miracle in our mess happens when we look for more than a handout, but for a hand up.
5. Am I willing to trust God as my ultimate source?
The widow understood the principle that Elijah was not her source. He was a man who cared about others and as a prophet he was anointed by God to help this woman find a way out of her dilemma.
She had her whole family involved in the miracle. Her boys had been there when she collected the vessels, they had helped her pour the oil into the containers, and they would never forget this lesson of faith their mother had taught them. The oil only ran out when all the vessels were filled. Her ability to receive ended before God’s ability to provide.
It is good to note that God’s provision is in proportion to our ability to receive. He is our ultimate Provider. When we find ourselves in troubled times, like this mother let’s look to God as our source and offer to Him what we have in the house. There is a miracle in your mess!