‘Elisha returned to Gilgal and there was a famine in that region. While the company of the prophets was meeting with him, he said to his servant, “Put on the large pot and cook some stew for these prophets.”
One of them went out into the fields to gather herbs and found a wild gourd plant and picked as many of its gourds as his garment could hold. When he returned, he cut them up into the pot of stew, though no-one knew what they were. The stew was poured out for the men, but as they began to eat it, they cried out, “Man of God, there is death in the pot!” And they could not eat it.
Elisha said, “Get some flour.” He put it into the pot and said, “Serve it to the people to eat.” And there was nothing harmful in the pot.
A man came from Baal Shalishah, bringing the man of God twenty loaves of barley bread baked from the first ripe corn, along with some ears of new corn. “Give it to the people to eat,” Elisha said.
“How can I set this before a hundred men?” his servant asked.
But Elisha answered, “Give it to the people to eat. For this is what the LORD says: ‘They will eat and have some left over.’” Then he set it before them, and they ate and had some left over, according to the word of the LORD.’
2 Kings 4:38–44
Two curious stories. Two stories about ravenously hungry people being fed by miracles from God. Perhaps that is all there is to them: stories that proved what a great prophet Elisha was. Personally I can’t help feeling there is more to them than that!
Here are three guys who made a contribution. They put something in.
The first man put poisonous weeds into a pot of stew. It wasn’t intentional. It was ignorance and perhaps carelessness. But the result was a disaster; you can see those hungry young students pulling faces as they tried to spoon up the bitter concoction. Ugh, revolting, ‘there is death in the pot!’
Have you noticed that in group situations there are usually characters who have the unfortunate knack of making problems even worse by what they put in? Negative things, bitter things, reproachful things. ‘I told you this would happen!’ ‘Nobody ever listens to me!’ ‘A fine mess you’ve made of things, haven’t you!’ By the time they’ve said their bit everything seems worse than it was before.
Then there was a man who made a really helpful contribution. This was another occasion when there wasn’t enough to eat, and he turned up with twenty bread rolls. This was a kind and generous action but the trouble was that there were a hundred hungry men to feed. This man did the right thing though. He did what he could, even if it wasn’t going to solve the problem. This is important. Do what you can, give what you can, so long as what you are putting in is good. Whether you share words, deeds, gifts or prayers. Don’t hold back, thinking, ‘What’s the use?’ Give what you can even though it seems pitifully inadequate.
The third man was Elisha. His contribution was faith. He had a special quality of faith that put him in touch with God’s methods and God’s timing. His faith turned the bad broth into appetizing stew. His faith multiplied the bread to feed a hundred hungry men. When people are around who have the quality of faith it is surprising how situations can change. You probably feel that you don’t have as much faith as Elisha had, and you may be right. But just remember that you have the same God!
About Norman Moss
Norman and Margaret Moss commenced ministry together in 1957. After 9 years in Chiswick, they pastored a church in Wimbledon for 31 years, and since then have been widely engaged in travelling ministry. Margaret contributed to the Dictionary of Christian Ethics (IVP) and Norman has written several children’s books. Both have wide experience with small groups.