Summary: Our response to world hunger & poverty
“When I Was Hungry.....”
2 Kings 4: 1-7
CALVIN CHRISTIAN REFORMED CHURCH
When I Was Hungry p.1
The biblical account for this evening begins in tragedy and desperation. We can get some
contemporary sense of this from the news media, which has in recent weeks shown us images of desperate
mothers, refugees from Afghanistan, holding an infant and begging on a street corner.
Strict Islamic law forbids them from working. In some refugee camps, they cannot even stand in line for
food. Only men are permitted. Women without a husband or brother to care for them are left in the worst of
poverty and desperation.
They often face a cruel, hungry dead-end future.
Barely living, at best.
Such was the case throughout the Ancient Middle East - in the days of Elisha, too. The widow in 2
Kings 4 faced a bleak future. We don’t know much about her situation, other than she was at the end of her
resources. Beyond the end, because the creditors were breathing down her neck.
Somehow she had fallen into the clutches of lenders who were willing to watch her walk to the edge, so
to speak, and then step in behind her to prevent retreat. Then they would take everything away from her –
including the only hope of care in the future, her sons.
Into that bitter, empoverished, hungry situation comes Elisha, prophet of God. Notice his careful
approach - he doesn’t barge in, wave a wand and in powerful domination change the future. Rather, he invites
her to be a part of the process of change.
There is dignity in how he acts -
“How can I help you?” A question inviting a response.
“Tell me, what do you have in your house?” Seeking her resources.
Together, in faith, they take the very little that is found and step out in faith.
Elisha shows faith by calling the widow to action.
The widow demonstrates faith by sending her sons to the neighbors.
Bold action by both of them.
Bold action reinforced by the quiet support of neighbors who lend this little family a few extra
jars that they have laying around the house.
Were there questions?
We are not told, but doubtlessly there were. Probably from both the widow and the community.
Embarrassment, perhaps at having to ask for so many jars. Suspicion at what a poor neighbor would want with
so many jars. But the contributions happen.
The steps in faith are made.
Each taking a step, large or small, in faith.
Each doing it in the presence of the God of life, the God proclaimed by Psalm 27 as the Source of light
and hope and protection.
They each act.
And He, in sovereign grace, responds to their acts of faith with a restoring miracle. The widow
receives far more than she had dared to ask in her plea to Elisha.
The result is release, freedom and hope in this small family.
The widow is released from the shackles of the creditors.
Her sons are safe.
The neighbors have an unexpected source of oil.
She has an income stream to support herself in the future.
When I Was Hungry p.2
The Bible doesn’t say - but it is easy to imagine that the widow, her sons, and some close neighbors
rejoiced and praised God.
As can we when, in the care and under the blessing of this same powerful life-and-light God, miracles of
small resources offered to Him continue to be reproduced today.
Through work of agencies such as CRWRC people can grow more food with limited resources, or they
can find a job or begin a small business or receive a healthy check-up for their child.
Lives that once were full of despair and darkness, now see some hope injected. There is the possibility
of a healthy future.
On this Hunger Awareness Sunday we give thanks to God for permitting us the privilege of serving as
neighbors to such people in need. Instead of jars, we give a few dollars out the many that we have.
People, who have the call of God on their lives, go out to serve as Elisha’s, agents of God’s renewing
hope and blessing – joining ideas and resources with the ideas and resources of fellow human beings all across
the globe - stepping out in faith together, and watching in amazement as God blesses those steps and
Remember the one other group of people involved in the story?
We haven’t said much about them, yet.
It’s the creditors.
The ones who seemed to offer the woman a hand, and later showed how deceptive that hand was as they came