The Role of the Ordinary in the Story of Elisha and the Widow

I told you about how I named this blog in yesterday’s post. I told you the story of Elisha and the widow from 2 Kings 4.

One of the most important aspects of the passage—I believe—is the role of the ordinary.

What’s more basic than oil and jars?

God’s all about using the ordinary to do extraordinary things.

I believe that God chooses to operate against the backdrop of ordinaryness so that his glory shines forth that much more.

What are some ordinary things that God has used? Some of them include:Role of the Ordinary in the Story of Elisha and the Widow. God uses the ordinary for extraordinary purposes.

  • a baby in a barn wrapped in rags
  • water, wine, bread
  • words and language to record his glory and revelation

Recently in my Sunday school class, we talked about Jesus’ miracles. My teacher noted that Jesus could have performed miracles everywhere, all day long. But he didn’t heal everyone who was sick. Jesus’ miracles were specific and purposeful in establishing himself as God and pointing toward his ultimate miracle: Resurrection and salvation for those who believe in him. He also always accompanied the physical miracle with the spiritual miracle (conversion of the person).

I thought about something else, as well. Had Jesus gone around healing everyone and performing all and any  kind of miracle, wouldn’t that, in a sense, have diluted the effectiveness of his message? Wouldn’t persons have come to expect such of him? Wouldn’t that have “cheapened” his grace in some manner?

As it was, we have these incredible miracles on display against the backdrop of ordinary people—chosen by God—for healing and saving. The deliberate choices of these select few make Jesus’ power all the more great.

And the deliberate use of the “ordinary” for God’s purposes makes them all the more extraordinary.

Seeing The “Ordinary” in The Story of Elisha and the Widow

In the story of Elisha and the widow, she had all she needed (by and through God’s power, of course) right inside the walls of her own house. She had the ability, the possessions, and the help within her grasp.

What ordinary things in your house can be extraordinary in God’s economy?

photo: supafine at morguefile

Elisha and The Widow in 2 Kings 4: What Have You in the House?

Elisha and the Widow in 2 Kings 4: What Have You in the House?

Elisha and the Widow’s Oil
2 Kings 4:1-7

4:1 Now the wife of one of the sons of the prophets cried to Elisha, “Your servant my husband is dead, and you know that your servant feared the Lord, but the creditor has come to take my two children to be his slaves.”

2 And Elisha said to her, “What shall I do for you? Tell me; what have you in the house?” And she said, “Your servant has nothing in the house except a jar of oil.”

3 Then he said, “Go outside, borrow vessels from all your neighbors, empty vessels and not too few. 4 Then go in and shut the door behind yourself and your sons and pour into all these vessels. And when one is full, set it aside.”

5 So she went from him and shut the door behind herself and her sons. And as she poured they brought the vessels to her. 6 When the vessels were full, she said to her son, “Bring me another vessel.” And he said to her, “There is not another.” Then the oil stopped flowing.

7 She came and told the man of God, and he said, “Go, sell the oil and pay your debts, and you and your sons can live on the rest.”


“What have you in the house?” Elisha asks the widow in 2 Kings 4.

Since hearing a talk on this passage many years ago, I have not forgotten its power.

Elisha could have offered any number of solutions to this woman’s predicament (God used him to bring the dead to life). Instead, he calmly asks her to look in her house.

The widow is facing terrible circumstances, isn’t she? She has no husband, lots of debt, and no money. She’s certain her sons will be taken from her, too.

Yet God chooses to save her, her family, her reputation, and her future through his prophet Elisha and some common household goods.

I love this passage for its simplistic picture of God’s extraordinary power in the “ordinaryness” of life. I love what the passage teaches me about my need and how my God can and will meet it.

Look in your house.

There you’ll find:

  • Your priority.
  • Your passion.
  • Your provision.
God comes to us in the very ordinary, every single day, in the most basic ways.

What do you need?

Look in your house.

(And that’s how I named this blog.)

Look in your house. There you’ll find your priority, passion, and provision.

photo: ladyheart at