The Shunamite woman. A nameless womans story, that is tucked in the canon of scripture. 2 kings 4 tells the story of this wealthy woman and the man of God, named Elisha.
She utlitized what was given to her (her wealth) by building the prophet a room above the main house. She fed and housed the prophet as he would go to and fro from mt carmel. Elsiha racked his brain trying to figure out a substantial form of payment for her generousity (for those who refresh other, will they themelves be refreshed) She looked as though she needed nothing. She had all that was necessary and even a little extra, yet there was a hearts plea that remained unanswered for the woman…a son. Her husband was old, she had probably gave up hope. She had more than likely came to terms with the fact that she would never cradle a newborn in her arms. Maybe that’s why she responded like she did…”NO my lord. O man of God; do not lie to your servant.”
In complete and utter shock…she wouldn’t let herself believe it. Not now, she had accepted that she wouldn’t bare a child. The bleeding of her heart had been tied off by the cord of acceptance. She didn’t expect a child, She didn’t ask for one any longer but the desire never was truly satisfied. Her heart still plead for a baby.
Acceptance can be a cover up for disappointment. We say we’re ok and we move on with our life but deep down our hearts thud with disappointment.
“No,my lord…do not lie to your servant.” She was begging not to fall into some sort of holy tease. Where her heart was the ploy in a game.
I just keep thinking about her saying “no..” no to the very thing that her heart pleaded for. The very thing that her life was lacking. Yet as the prophet held out the prospect of a man child-her response was “no”.
We all have heard the saying “If its too good to be true it probably is.” Why do we reason this way? Has the world made us this cold and cynical? Or has our own lack of distorted perspective of God warped our reasoning?
Have you ever felt as though God was holding something out in front of you, something that you desperately wanted but then it was pulled away?
Like a business deal gone bad, we count our loses and vow that will never happen again. we will never hope for the miraculous or place our trust in the unknown. And so when something we are longing for comes our way again, we act cautiously. Disappointments can cause us to block our hearts, to barricade them off with reason. We do not dare hope for too much and we prepare ourselves for the worst.
The child would represent the promise of God. Elisha’s prophecy came true,as Gods word always does. The next year the Shunamite women cradled her promise. Yet, one day the child was in the field with his father. All of a sudden the child grabbed his head in agonizing pain. The father did what most fathers do, he rushed him to the arms of the boys mother. She sat with him on her lap as he breathed his last. I cant help but wonder, did she know he was dying? Did she soak up the smell of his hair or stroke his forehead tenderly? We don’t know but we do know she carried his lifeless body up the stairs and laid him on the bed of the man of God.(Elisha was not an ordinary man. He represented the voice and hand of God.)
The promise died. That’s what you do when a promise dies; you take it back to the one who made it.
This woman realized something. Something profound- that God alone is responsible for keeping his promises alive. As she laid her child in the bed of Elisha, she was in fact laying the promise of God at the feet of God. She was transferring her promise to the hands of the only One who could awaken it.
Her reaction would show us this was indeed her mindset. For instead of running for her husband she called for her donkey to go to the Man of God. Instead of accepting defeat she ran to the feet of God. Maybe the most bazaar part was she told her husband “all is well..” the word well is Shalom, meaning peace and tranquility. Her child was laying inside the house dead! She had lost her most precious possession, yet her response was “….shalom…” all is at peace.
All is well. She could utter those words in the pinch of the hardest moment in her life because she had laid the promise of God down. She could do nothing to bring it back to life, it was up to God to do what he had said he would do. It’s so easy for us to try and work out the promises of God, to try and make them come to fruition. We think somehow we can manipulate circumstances and wa-la! It will all work out. But that’s not how it works and we end up tired and frustrated because the promises of God seem to be dying right in front of us.
It is well, Springs off the tongue of a woman who realizes it’s up to God to do what He said. She let the weight fall on His shoulders not hers. All is at peace for the one who trusts the character of her God. She didn’t run to anyone else with her dilemma, she ran to the one who turns dilemmas into deliverance. She wasn’t the first one who seemed to be put off by God. The Israelites who left Egypt with great joy and gladness, quickly found themselves backed into a corner. They were sown in by dilemma. One side the wilderness, the other side Pharaoh and his army and in front of them the boastful waves of the Red Sea. They saw a dilemma turned into deliverance that day. For when God speaks a promise, seas part and armies fall.
As she arrived at Mt Carmel where Elisha was, he knew something had to be terribly wrong, so he sent his servant to ask her “is all well?? Again she answered “all is well”.
Peace despite choas, tranquility in the face of despair.
As she approached Elisha, she fell at his feet.
“Did I not tell you, do not deceive me???”
In other words…”you promised me this was not a joke. That this was not some sort of Holy tease…you promised me”
God never needs to be reminded of his promises to us. He remembers his vow. Yet, perhaps in the moments like these, When it seems as though He has forgotten his own word, like we have been tricked into believing, he is using these dilemmas not to remind himself, but to remind us that He is a God of His word. There’s something that happens inside of us when we are crying out the promises of God. Something grows within us, courage springs forth and faith ignites a strength we didn’t have before. But when we forget, when we bury the promise of God in the grave of acceptance than Shalom evades our grasp.
How could a mother say “all is well” as her child lies lifeless just a few steps away? Normal people would break down, they would have ran to their husband for help. But the Shunamite was not normal because she had a God that defies the barriers of normalcy. She could utter “all is well” with a lump in her throat and a heart that was pounding within her chest because she knew…she knew God was capable of keeping his promises. She knew he has to, it’s part of who he is; a promise keeper.
So,she lead the man of God back to her dead promise and she left him there. She left God to His promise. She didn’t try to help, she closed the door and let God do what He does best; awaken promises.
“All is well” is not a normal answer to a dilemma. It’s a answer that is given for those who rest in authority of the Word of God. God keeps His word, you can bank on that. And when we lay those promises at His feet, not accepting defeat, then His word is awakened within us. The authority of His word breaths life into our dilemma and rises up out of uncertainty.
“Pick up your son…”
As New Testament believers, we are called to pick up the promises made to us in Scripture. To sow them into our hearts so they bear fruit in our lives. The word “claim” has become toxic to the Christian community because of the hazardeous teaching of the apostate “name it and claim it” or “prosperity” gospel. This is not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about you taking hold of the promises you have been given in scripture! Do not accept defeat. Don’t bury what seems to be dead, lay it out before God. Lay claim to what’s been given to you through Christ (freedom, victory, purpose, forgiveness, wisdom, The abundance of grace, the glory of the Spirit..for some examples.) We accept defeat much too quickly if we are too scared to claim His promises.
As this scene rolled through my mind, I keep thinking about the father. Did he ever know? Did he realize that his child had been raised from the dead? I’m not sure. Scripture seems to leave him in the dark. But perhaps there is a lesson there-your promise is just that, it’s yours. God made it to you and hear me when I say He will awaken it for you. That’s a guarantee. It’s not wishful thinking or foolish reason; it’s a promise. A promise that rests on the character of your God and not on your own doings.
The promises of God do not die with our circumstances. They are never empty but filled with life.
“So shall my word be that goes forth from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but shall acompmish that which I purpose and succeed in the thing in which I sent it..” Isaiah 55:11