"Please, sir, just a little more time. My husband's death was so sudden, we were not able..."
"As you wish, woman. My steward will collect one week from today. Either have the money, or your sons will be placed in service to satisfy the debt."
I have prayed every day, every hour, my heart breaking. My husband had served the Lord faithfully. Surely, He knew. A few friends and relatives have helped, but it's still not enough.
"Oh, Lord, you are the God who provides. I can't lose my boys... but at least they would have food every day in that big house... I can't even do that much..."
Through my distress, I heard shouts of joy and welcome outside. Jon, my older son, peered out the window. He turned, excitement and hope for a moment replacing the gloom on his face.
"Mama, Elisha is in town. I remember he would have supper with us, when Daddy was alive. Maybe he can help."
I stepped out on the small stoop, just as the man of God turned and saw me. He excused himself from the crowd and strode toward me.
"Woman," he said tenderly, "your husband's death has been a great loss to my men. I'm sure it is far worse for you. How are you and those fine sons of yours?"
"Please, sir, come inside." Whether it was proper or not for a widow to have a man in her home, I did not want the town to hear our conversation.
He stepped in and closed the door. The boys came to him. He held them, and told them how much their father had loved his family.
"Now, I need to talk with your mother." He turned to me, "I can see your distress. Please, tell me what you need."
"Oh, sir," I sighed. "I'm afraid it's too late. Being a widow is difficult. The boys are too young to work, and I cannot earn a living as my husband did. Mr. Epstein claims my husband owed him money. I didn't know of it, but he demands payment."
"Do you have the money?"
"No, sir. The people turn away, uncomfortable, now that I have no husband. Mr. Epstein says he must have the money today, or he's going to take my boys. He'll make them slaves in his house; I'll never see them again," I sobbed. "Please, sir, I can't lose my boys. Can you do anything to stop that man? I don't know what to do. I'm not even sure the Lord is listening."
"Listen to me," he commanded. "The Lord has not forsaken you. Tell me, what do you have in the house?"
"We have nothing, except a small jar of olive oil. Not even any bread."
"The Lord can work with that. Here's the plan. Go to all the neighbors, borrow jars from them. The boys can carry them. Don't skip any home. Get as many as you can."
"But what if they won't help?"
"Don't worry. The Lord is here. He will provide. Now go!"
So we went. Most of the neighbors were generous, lending as many jars as they had empty. A few even emptied and cleaned another jar for us.
I did not want to go to the Epstein house, but Elisha had clearly said not to miss any. When the steward learned of my request, he just shook his head, saying it wouldn't make any difference. He said I should consider what's best for the boys. Maybe he's right.
When we finished collecting all the jars in town, Elisha told us to go into our house and close the door, then start pouring oil into the jars. It was amazing. Every time another jar filled, my hopes rose a little more. The Lord was indeed providing, but I couldn't see how oil would save our family.
"Bring another jar."
"We've used them all, Mama."
The oil stopped. I went to tell Elisha, and he said, “Go, sell the oil and pay your debts. You and your sons can live on what is left.”
We took the oil all over town, and sold it all Many people purchased their jars filled with oil.
The debt is paid, and we are safe. We can sing, *"This is the day which the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it." Together, in our own home.
*Psalm 118:24, KJV
Based on 2 Kings 4:1-7
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