2 Kings 5:38-41 Poisoned Stew
This passage occurs during the time when there is a famine in the land. As you know, a famine is a time when there is a lack of something fruitful, or lack of growth. We see famines across the world such as in parts of Africa, where clean water is scarce; and good healthy food is to a bare minimum because the crops failed to produce. We have seen famines in our own land, such as during the dust bowl of the Midwest. Perhaps you have seen a famine in your personal life such as when finances are thinned, or your health is declining.
Elisha returned to Gilgal, and there was a famine in the land. One day as the group of prophets were seated before him, he said to his servant, “Put a large pot on the fire, and make some stew for the rest of the group.” We find in this time of famine that there is a glimmer of hope and rest for a short period of time for the prophets to eat. Even in our times of famine, we may find short bursts of energy when suddenly things seem to be taking a turn for the better…..we may find rest in the weary of moments, because we have to rest. That rest re-energizes us for a short period of time; we’ve all seen it, such as when weight lifters work on muscles they may not have used that often. They take a break to work on other muscle groups before returning to that other muscle group so as not to strain the muscle, and they feel re-energized.
One of the young men went out into the field to gather herbs and came back with a pocketful of wild gourds. He shredded them and put them in the pot without realizing they were poisonous. Sometimes we get ourselves into positions and situations that we inadvertently didn’t realize were going to be troublesome; many times through habit or through pure experience. It doesn’t make us any less of a person, we all make mistakes, we’re all human. We’ve all been down that rocky road. Don’t despair, there is hope, even when the famine seems to be so overwhelming.
Some of the stew was served to the men. But after they had eaten bite or two they cried out, “Man of God, there’s poison in this stew!” So they would not eat it. When we realize we have made a mistake or erred in our ways, we may cry out that there’s “Poison in the Pot!” And where does out help come from, when we’re down in the dumps, and all seems hopeless?
Elisha said, “Bring me some flour?” Then he threw it in the pot and said, “Now it’s all right, go ahead and eat”. And then it did not harm them. As we know bread is made from flour, and as we know bread is the symbol of the body of Jesus. So when Jesus is thrown into the mix, into all that poison; into all those bad situations, into all that dismay, into all that turmoil, into all that hopelessness, into all that famine that we find ourselves in…..its made better. Much like pouring bleach into a stain, its made white.
So whatever situation or famine you may find yourself in today, always remember that Jesus is there, and ready to make fresh the stew in your life, to ease the famine in your life….he’s here today….any moment of any second….AMEN
“When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had been there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be made well?” John 5:6
This is story of the the man who has been laying by the pool of Bethesda for 38 years, who had been ill for a long time. Crowds of sick people-blind, lame, or paralyzed-lay on the porches. When Jesus saw the man and knew that he had been ill for a long time, he asked him if he would like to get well? If Jesus were to ask us today if we wanted to get well of our illnesses or diseases that we have been struggling with, our answers would most likely be “definitely!” But this question has more behind it than meets the eye.
The man says, “I can’t, sir….for I have no one to put me in the pool when the water bubbles up. Someone always gets there ahead of me.” Jesus told him to “Pick up his mat, and walk!” And instantly the man was healed.
If it were only that easy we may be thinking in our lives today. Do you want to be healed, “Of course”……especially after 38 years……but that healing also means change. Are we ready for the change? Jesus is asking the man, do you WANT to be made well? For an example, someone who has lived a life of obesity, if they want to be made well, that change means exercising and dieting. Do they want that new lifestyle….are they ready for the change? Of course, but some people can’t handle it, unfortunately….they’re set in their lifestyles. Many people in the world today are addicted to drugs and alcohol, and to be made well, would mean abstaining and going to a sobriety shelter , support meetings, or staying away from the clique or group they were in. Are they ready for that change? Some people unfortunately are not, and all we can do is continue to encourage them, provide them with helpful tools to find a way out, and to pray for them. But the decision is ultimately theirs.
Jesus tells the man to stand up, pick up his mat and walk. Jesus, or in another perspective our faith-Our Higher Power, sets us free. When we focus on our faith, we are strengthened beyond any comprehension because you have the support of others around you, you have the beacon of light from your Higher Power to direct your way, you have direction in life that you may not have had before you found your faith journey. Its not easy to traverse a mountain alone, you need a Sherpa- someone to help guide you….and you may never reach that peak, or you may……but you shoot for the stars and if you miss at least you land amongst them!
Peace be with you!
Psalm 23 begins by telling us that the Lord is my Shepherd, I have all that I need. What a great reminder, especially when we’re in dire straights, when all seems to be going haywire; the Lord is my Shepherd, I have all that I need. He lets med rest in green meadows, and he renews my strength. When we come to God, when we draw nearer to him, we will find rest. Many times people find physical and emotional healing as their faith grows, and they become more active in the spiritual life; and thus, they find rest from their illness, disease, and hurts.
But the scripture continues…saying but even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid. What that is ultimately telling us is that even when we have the good times, even when we have the rest; we’re going to walk through dark valleys. Churches before COVID-19 for example were booming in the bible belt; but once the virus hit, and people took shelter at home losing their jobs, the churches took a big hit. But even in the darkest valley, the church will not be afraid; no, they’re finding ways to use multimedia and social media to reach out to the community and draw the people back in. Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid.
When I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid. I was the victim of sexual assault in a small Oklahoma town according to metropolis standards. Im not afraid to admit that, because it makes me stronger as a person; but I had to leave the town with just a backpack of belongings and nothing else. That was a dark valley for me, and admittedly physically I was afraid! But I had God on my side, and so spiritually I was not afraid. I knew that he would provide; and that helped to ease the physical burden. For soon after I arrived into Oklahoma City I was offered a job by my dad that paid $1,000 to paint the interior of his home, and that launched me into a rooming house that was rather shanky….but it was home. That then launched me into a church community that launched me into a housing program that launched me into a permanent apartment where Ive been for close to thirteen years. During all that time I truly felt the Spirit of God moving in and through and around my situation….that dark valley…..and I was not afraid. For God was close beside me.
No matter what situation you may be going though today, know this, the Lord is your Shepherd, he is all you need, he leads you to rest in green meadows……not dusty meadows…..not weedy overgrown meadows……but green meadows. No matter what hurt or hang up you may be going through, he will lead you to rest, because he is a God of comfort….his rod and staff protect and comfort you. I pray that these words may bring peace to your life…..may the Peace of Our Heavenly Father be with you!