Why Having Nothing and Being Empty Can Be A Good Thing

I love studying the women of God in the Bible and here’s why: because they all have something in common, and it’s not glamorous, flashy or anything you’d ever covet.

What they have is some kind of emptiness. A need, a want, or a lack.

And I love to watch where they turn in their need, because I need their example in order to live my Christian life.

These women turn to God and trust Him.

Sometimes God meets their need just they way they asked Him to, but other times He meets their real need, their need for Him.

Exhibit A: The Widow in 2 Kings 4.


“The wife of a man from the company of the prophets cried out to Elisha, “Your servant my husband is dead, and you know that he revered the Lord. But now his creditor is coming to take my two boys as his slaves.”

The widow had lack. She had no husband, and no money, and the money-lenders were coming to take her children.

Elisha replied to her, “How can I help you? Tell me, what do you have in your house?” “Your servant has nothing there at all,” she said, “except a small jar of olive oil.”

The pitiful truth was that all she had in the cupboard was olive oil. How desperate she must have felt. But she knew where to turn for help, the man of God, the prophet Elisha. Maybe she thought Elisha would organize a community food drive for her, or maybe request assistance from wealthier acquaintances in town, but that’s not what Elisha told her to do.

Elisha said, “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.”

So Elisha’s plan was a the “clandestine-behind-closed-doors-oil-making” scheme. Now, you have to admit that this sounds strange. And what if she hadn’t had faith? She could have rolled her eyes, snickered at this request, closed the door, thank-you-very-much, and lost her boys to the creditors. But instead she obeyed and God provided for her.

 She left him and shut the door behind her and her sons. They brought the jars to her and she kept pouring. When all the jars were full, she said to her son, “Bring me another one.”

But he replied, “There is not a jar left.” Then the oil stopped flowing.

 She went and told the man of God, and he said, “Go, sell the oil and pay your debts. You and your sons can live on what is left.”

The widow’s problem was a money issue. She’d run out, and there were no Visa cards in those days, no fall backs.

And you and I have our own set of needs. Maybe you’ve run out of energy to train or discipline your children. Maybe you’re at the end of your rope emotionally. Maybe you’re out of finances, health, friends or hope. Maybe your family is crumbling around you. Or perhaps your marriage has run clean out of love.

Maybe the only thing you do have is this ever-present burden, your awareness of this lack in you life. 

Can I just encourage you that sometimes, that is exactly when God will take over if we let Him? Our need can be a good thing. It can prompt us to begin searching again for the One who can bring Hope.

Sometimes when there’s nothing left, humanly speaking,

sometimes when problems seem impossible, insurmountable,

these are exactly the times when we can go to God and lay out our burden to Him. We give Him permission to take control. We throw our problem on him–> “Cast your burden upon the Lord.”

  • We see it with the Nicodemus who had everything going for him on the outside, religious respect, admiration, yet who was inwardly empty and searching for more,
  • We see it with the woman with the issue of blood who spent all that she had and was now reaching out in faith to touch the hem of Jesus garment
  • We see it with Mary and Martha who called, no begged, their friend Jesus to come back and heal Lazarus so he wouldn’t die,
  • We see it at the marriage feast in Caanan, where the newly-weds began their marriage with an embarrassing lack of wine for their guests which could have been seen as a social disgrace on the bridegroom

The place to go for help was the Lord. Not to girlfriends, not to food, or shopping, immorality, books, tv or the internet.

The Lord Jesus Christ. Our Help, Shepherd, Shield, Guide, Comfort, Savior.

And when you go to the Lord,

and relinquish control,

and admit that you are hopeless and that you need Him,

and hand him the reins to do as He will,

you’ll find that He will. He will meet our needs!

Sometimes — most times — our need is to know and trust Him more. Sometimes we must wait for His timing, submit to His plan, surrender our own sinful ways and embrace His.

And when we do, he’ll not only give us what is good and best,

He’ll fill us with His own divine self, so we can gather strength and love that comes from Him, hope that only He can give, and watch Him work on our behalf. While we’re waiting, studying His word, praying, meditating, walking by faith, we can go on doing what He has called us to do.

*What is it that is plaguing you today as a severe need? What have you run out of? Patience with kids or family members? Love for those around you? A desire to serve God where He’s put you? Hope that your kids ever never follow God? Can you bring it to the Lord and lay it at His feet to do with it as He will? Will you trust that He’ll do what’s best, right and good for you?



1 thought on “Why Having Nothing and Being Empty Can Be A Good Thing”

  • God often uses his people to bless those he puts in their lives. I like Elisha’s response: “What can I do to help?” It’s a simple question, but one of the most powerful I’ve ever experienced hearing. I hope I say it enough too.


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