There’s a story in the Bible in II Kings 4:1-7 which tells about a widow who lost her husband who was a prophet. After he died, the family was left with a lot of debt that she could not pay. It got so bad to the point that creditors were threatening to take away her two sons until the debt was paid. In desperation, she went to talk to the Prophet Elisha for advice about her dire circumstance. After listening intently to her grievous situation he asked her ... “What do you have in your house?” She informed him that all she had was ... "a jar of oil."
Elisha then instructed her to go throughout her neighborhood and borrow as many vessels as she could. He then told her to go in her home and fill each vessel with the oil and go sell it. He advised her that after selling the oil, she should pay her debts, and live off the rest of the profits.
What’s In Your House?
I remember reading a story about a group of people who were known as the Phoenicians. According to history, these people originated from Sidon and inhabited the land freely until other people who were more powerful than they were began taking over the city. Eventually, the Phoenicians were forced to live near the Mediterranean Sea. Although their lives had changed because they were abruptly uprooted from their homes and their future seemed bleak because of this forced invasion, this inconvenience turned out to be a great opportunity for the Phoenicians to discovered their hidden potential.
They had to find a way to make a living, so they began to use the sea as a trading post to do business with other countries. Part of this business was shipbuilding which played an intricate role in their ability to trade. Some of their goods included precious metals, wine, and purple dye. The Phoenicians eventually became very wealthy because of their newfound occupation. Many countries depended on them for their purple cloth. The Phoenicians also created an alphabet which was later used in their trading business and influenced other countries' writing skills.
There is a rich lesson that can be learned from the Phoenicians. They dealt with challenges as many of us do today. You may be dealing with difficult bully-like people who want to take something away from you. If they have already, you may be forced to figure what you need to do in order to survive now that you don’t have the possessions or relationships you once depended on. If you can't do anything about the situation, you have a choice to either settle for the situation they’ve pushed you into believing you have to accept or you can turn the misfortune into a fortune.
If you look deeply at the Phoenicians’ history of success, you’ll notice that although their land was conquered by Cyrus the Great, the Phoenicians had more access to wealth that their invaders. People may see what you have physically and desire it however small or great it is, but they don’t understand that their view of what they see is limited. The Phoenicians had a creative mind. The conquerors of their land did not. If you had a job, home, car or something else that was taken away from you, do you have enough ingenuity to build something else?
There may be jealous people around you who don’t want you to excel or have anything of great value or status, but you must realize what they see physically is not the real you it’s only a manifestation of the real you. The conquerors thought the Phoenicians were weak because they were able to get away with possessing the land that rightfully belong to the Phoenicians. However, they did not know that they weren’t able to take away the Phoenicians’ minds, creativity, and resilience.
Defeat Doesn’t Have to Repeat
Your struggle with your current situation may not look the best because you’re struggling to survive and others who have bullied you out of your position may be taunting or ridiculing you. Despite this turmoil, you must begin to look beyond your borders like the Phoenicians did. Don’t look at your limitations. Start looking at your potential and begin developing something out of your nothing. Recognize that physical things may come and go, but you still have a will and a mindset that you can control to either build or settle. No one can take away your ability to motivate and reinvent yourself or your surroundings.
The Phoenicians were shipbuilders, but they didn’t become shipbuilders overnight. They looked at the wood from the trees that bordered the sea. They traded precious metals. So perhaps they went into the deep caves near them and dug the metals out. They sold dye and purple cloth. So they had to search for sea snails to increase their supply for consumer demand. Research also reveals that they were slave traders. I'm not an advocate or supporter of slave trade. The point is they kept moving and searching for new ideas and eventually created multiple streams of income. Although the Phoenician culture eventually dissipated, they took advantage of the opportunities the sea offered. The sea may have been quiet, cool, and vast, but before they began trading, they imagined that ships were sailing, goods were exchanged, fish were caught, and transactions made. In order for something to happen, you must first imagine the activity, work on the concept, and put it on display in order to attract what you want.
You may be saying that you don’t have anything because you lost this or that. Everyone has something. If you’re not sure what you’re good at, take a piece of paper and begin to make a list of what you can do. Ask yourself what do you like to do in your spare time? Do you like to write? Can you sing? Do you enjoy sewing or cooking? Any skill that you have can become an opportunity for you to increase your wealth financially, mentally, and socially. Unexpected situations may happen in life, but you don’t have to settle for defeat. Start looking and building what you already have. There's a platform out there that's waiting for what you have to offer. Go for it!