Faith is hard to quantify. Jesus, in a teachable moment with the disciples, spoke of having “faith the size of a mustard seed.” Essentially, Jesus said that if his disciples had an inkling of faith, they could move mountains (Matt 17:20).
In our story today, faith gets quantified. Although we aren’t given the exact number, we are told of exactly how much this desperate widow took God at His Word. This story of Elisha illustrates that he can perform miracles just like his mentor Elijah (cf. 1 Kgs 17:7–24). However, the extent of the miracle was dependent on the widow.
Out of desperate financial need, the widow asks Elisha for help. The idea of selling a child into slavery is repulsive, but a part of the culture. She would have had no choice. Elisha’s request may have sounded crazy, “Go around and ask all your neighbors for empty jars. Don’t ask for just a few. Then go inside and shut the door behind you and your sons. Pour oil into all the jars, and as each is filled, put it to one side.”
“Go get a bunch of jars?” She might ask, “What will that do, I already told you I only have a little oil.”
If the widow had a one-jar-faith, she believed the prophet but only went to her next-door neighbor, asked for a jar, and obeyed Elisha’s command. If the widow had a two-jar-faith, she might ask a couple neighbors, but probably wouldn’t want to bother the folks down the street. Who knows if this lady knew why she was asked to gather a bunch of jars. That didn’t matter for her. She asked God’s man for help and she did what he asked. It seems that she got every jar she could get her hands on. She knocked on doors. She probably felt awkward asking for jars. She had no idea if anybody would give her jars or what Elisha intended to do.
As she started pouring and jars started filling, you can imagine her excitement. In my experience, if I have a small container and begin pouring into a larger container, two things happen. First, my small container gets empty. And second, my large container gets filled only to the capacity of the previous container. But when God asks you to pour, the oil keeps flowing. As she filled jar after jar, I bet she was thinking, “I should have gotten more jars.” Maybe she got every jar in town, but we would all experience a tinge of regret for not going to the next town and getting as many jars as humanly possible. No matter how many jars she had, she probably though, “I wish I had one more.”
This desperate widow clearly believed Elisha and had a many-jar-faith—she believed him a lot. Not only was she able to get out of debt, but she had enough for her and her kids to live.
What about you? Where is God asking you to have a many-jar-faith? Maybe this means going around to your neighbors and inviting them to the Good Friday or Easter services with those neat cards Todd designed. I can only imagine that on the day we stand at the feet of Jesus we will say to ourselves, “I wish I had one more… one more chance to share with a friend or loved one. One more chance to invite a lost neighbor to church. One more chance to obey God and expand His Kingdom on Earth. What does one more jar look like for you today?
By: Tyler Short — Connections Ministry Associate