Have you ever heard the saying, “Enough is as good as a feast”?
I first remember hearing it on the Walt Disney classic movie Mary Poppins. A little research revealed that the saying first appeared in the writings of the Greek writer Euripides as he argued against greed. Sometimes the old proverb is expressed like this:
- You do not need more than enough of anything.
- Just having enough of something is plenty.
- Moderation is more satisfying than excess.
This all came to mind recently as I read a passage familiar to me in the book of 2 Kings.
The Widow’s Oil
We can be certain that God will give us the strength and resources we need to live through any situation in life that he ordains. The will of God will never take us where the grace of God cannot sustain us. ~Billy Graham, American evangelist
Take a look at this short story from 2 Kings 4:1-7.
One day the widow of a member of the group of prophets came to Elisha and cried out, “My husband who served you is dead, and you know how he feared the Lord. But now a creditor has come, threatening to take my two sons as slaves.”
“What can I do to help you?” Elisha asked. “Tell me, what do you have in the house?”
“Nothing at all, except a flask of olive oil,” she replied.
And Elisha said, “Borrow as many empty jars as you can from your friends and neighbors. Then go into your house with your sons and shut the door behind you. Pour olive oil from your flask into the jars, setting each one aside when it is filled.”
So she did as she was told. Her sons kept bringing jars to her, and she filled one after another. Soon every container was full to the brim!
“Bring me another jar,” she said to one of her sons.
“There aren’t any more!” he told her. And then the olive oil stopped flowing.
When she told the man of God what had happened, he said to her, “Now sell the olive oil and pay your debts, and you and your sons can live on what is left over.”
She sought the prophet of God, her husband’s boss.
Think about the relationships described here, and consider your own personality. Would you have been bold enough to approach a prophet of God as she did? First of all, we don’t know the relationship between Elisha and this man, if her husband had been part of some inner circle. It doesn’t read that way to me, but it’s possible.
Additionally, this seems to occur shortly after the man’s death. with enough time passing to allow the creditors to threaten her but not enough to follow through. This financial pressure from outsiders would have added to her distress. Of course, I’m also assuming that she loved her husband, enjoyed having him around, and looked forward to him coming home after serving the prophet.
Perhaps I’m wrong, but I see all kinds of attitude and anger laced in her words to Elisha. And in her grief, that’s understandable. But maybe it goes deeper than that. How old were her sons? How long had she been married? Did her husband have other job prospects that were better, at least in her mind? Maybe he traveled a lot or spent too much time serving Elisha. I remember battling bitterness when my husband’s military career always seemed to take precedence over our home life. Maybe family members or friends filled her with discontent, either from their own mouths or her envy of how she saw their lives being lived out.
Elisha responded to her need, not her attitude.
I find this tidbit beautiful. Inspiring. Maybe he was busy with fifty-eight things to accomplish before sunset. Maybe fourteen other people were standing in line at his desk. Maybe he’d already been snapped at by the town’s resident-grumpy-woman that morning and this woman crying at his front door was the last thing he wanted to deal with.
We don’t know.
But we do know that at the moment she cried out to him, he offered her grace and her very own miracle. Imagine her years later, looking back at this moment, thankful that she stopped crying long enough to listen and then went out and obeyed.
Enough is as good as a feast.
And, echoing Philippians 4:19, the widow had enough to supply all her needs. Okay, so the Bible doesn’t specifically lay that out clearly for us, but the story certainly infers it. Could God have provided more? Sure, but it wasn’t necessary. She needed enough to pay her creditors and to live. More may have been nice, but it wasn’t necessary.
That’s an important concept for us to get amongst our extravagant living in America. As some across the United States complain about a federal minimum wage of $7.25, countries like Afghanistan, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, and India live on pay of $0.50 or less per hour. Some far less.
And before you start to argue about the difference between America and Cuba, first consider what is truly necessary to live versus the luxuries most of us don’t want to give up.
Moderation in temper is always a virtue; but moderation in principle is always a vice. ~Thomas Paine, American philosopher and political theorist
So, how can you embrace a little more of the thinking enough is as good as a feast in your life today? We’re really talking about practicing contentment. Thankfulness. Counting our blessings.
As the apostle Paul wrote to Timothy, Yet true godliness with contentment is itself great wealth. After all, we brought nothing with us when we came into the world, and we can’t take anything with us when we leave it. So if we have enough food and clothing, let us be content (1 Timothy 6:6-8, New Living Translation).
One of the challenges Cassandra must face is deciding if she will trust God and be content with how He answers her prayers.
She never thought she’d be raising her daughters alone. But when Deputy Fire Marshal Cassandra McCarthy’s husband died unexpectedly, she was forced to find a career. Now working beside a retired Special Operations soldier and veteran fireman, she serves her small North Carolina town, protecting them from hazards they don’t understand. But things must change.
First, a paramedic starts to work at one of her firehouses, irritating her with the most ridiculous names. And then the evidence in a series of unexplained fires points in a direction she doesn’t like. Can she continue to do her job with integrity and passion when she doesn’t like where it leads her?
She thought life would settle down. Nature had a different plan. Cassandra breathed a sigh of relief once the teenagers who had been starting nuisance fires around her small town were caught. But life is rarely so simple.
A hurricane rages up the eastern coastline, damaging homes and feeding floods as it goes. But evidence is mounting that the teens weren’t the only ones playing with fire. Can she prepare the town for the looming emergency and protect them from the danger living in their midst?
The danger grows. Will God protect her? Hurricane Matthew left millions of dollars of destruction, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency invaded to help the community clean up and move forward. Yet in the midst of recovery, the unexplained fires grow more menacing.
Cassandra works closely with FEMA to help the community and with the sheriff’s office to follow the small pieces of evidence left at each fire scene. But what will it cost her to capture the arsonist? Is he closer than she wants him to be? And will she have to give up the one relationship she’s wanted since the death of her husband?