A Little Oil

Disappointment is the emotional debt we pay for unrealized dreams.

2 Kings 4

1 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.”

2 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.”

Disappointment is the emotional debt we pay for unrealized dreams, for the investments made into unfulfilled expectations. It accrues over a long period of time and then the debt collector comes calling.

Expectation allows us to make withdrawals on the future and enjoy it before it arrives. But hope deferred makes the heart sick (Proverbs 13:12). Disappointment comes when we have invested energy in dreaming of something that doesn’t arrive. We overextend our hearts, our expectations, and then we must pay with disappointment.

When we dream and plan, we are investing emotional energy in the future. When this investment fails to materialize we are left with an emotional deficit. Our heart is in the red. This happens when we have spent yesterday’s energy on tomorrow’s dreams and are now left with insufficient emotional reserves to cover today’s needs.

Revival Culture and the Danger of Disappointment

There is something about revival that causes one to extend themselves, to live for the future. It’s similar to a bull market in finance; it seems it will last forever…until it doesn’t. People begin to take wild risks in a bull market. They do in times of revival as well.

But it is at the point of the downturn that fortunes are made. This is true financially, but it is true spiritually as well. What you do between outpourings is as important - if not more so - than what you do during one.

This widow had been married to one of the Sons of the prophets. He had attended the strongest school of supernatural ministry in his generation. He had witnessed the miracles of Elijah first hand. Now, Elijah the prophetic father was dead only to be followed by his own premature death. His wife was now left to deal with the debt he’d left behind.

Contending for the future in a prophetic culture, one “married to the prophetic”, can be especially challenging. If there is one thing I have learned from pastoring prophetic people, it is that the prophetic can generate tremendous spiritual momentum. I have also learned it can generate tremendous disappointment if not stewarded properly.

How do we pay the debts of the revival years? How do we make good on the heady plans made when God was moving so powerfully? The answer already lies in the house of those touched by the move of God: look for the leftover oil.

There was a little oil left from his labors. What the last move had left was the key to not only settling her past debts, it was the key to providing for her future. The dreams were yet to be realized, but only if she used the oil.