A miracle and a tragedy. 2 Kings 4:8 introduces us to the Shunammite woman, well to do, but childless. Elisha often came through her town and she urged him to stay and eat, so whenever he went the way of her house he always ate. Elisha came so frequently that the woman had a room added to her home just for him. Elisha was very thankful and asked the woman what she needed. This is what transpired between them.
Then he said to Gehazi his servant, “Call this Shunammite woman.” When he had called her, she stood before him. And he said to him, “Say now to her, ‘Look, you have been concerned for us with all this care. What can I do for you? Do you want me to speak on your behalf to the king or to the commander of the army?'” She answered him, “I dwell among my own people.” 2 King 4: 12-13
This is a beautiful moment to me. Do you remember King Solomon? He didn’t ask for riches or power but for wisdom and understanding, and God did so much more for him. The Shunammite woman didn’t ask to be richer or to have power…she had no purpose to go before the king or the head of the army…she actually had no request at all. She was content and satisfied in her position. She had not served the prophet for gain, but out of a servant’s heart because he was a man of God and by serving him she was in fact serving God. What is so powerful is that she did it with no thought of gain in her heart.
So he said, “What then is to be done for her?” And Gehazi answered, “Actually, she has no son, and her husband is old.” So he said, “Call her.” When he had called her, she stood in the doorway. Then he said, “About this time next year you shall embrace a son.” And she said, “No, my lord, Man of God, do not lie to your maidservant!” 2 Kings 4: 14-16
This story reminds me of verse six of 1 Timothy chapter six. Every translation says it the same way, “But godliness with contentment is great gain.” It’s not about being content until you can get everything you want. It’s about being content despite of everything you want or need. Those “wants” have no hold over your current existence, and all though some needs are essential to your survival, being content is the key that brings what you need to the surface without you have to do a thing. The Shunammite woman’s wait for children must have been a long wait because it is pointed out that her husband is very old and implies that, as was tradition in biblical times, she would not keep what was her husbands but it would pass to the next of kin male. She would essentially be cut out with out a son to lay claim. However, it doesn’t seem to bother this woman, or if it had, she had come to terms with it a while ago. She was content with the moment and what she could do in that moment. All was well.
But the woman conceived, and bore a son when the appointed time had come, of which Elisha had told her. And the child grew. Now it happened one day that he went out to his father, to the reapers. And he said to his father, “My head, my head!” So he said to a servant, “Carry him to his mother,” When he had taken him and brought him to his mother, he sat on her knees till noon, and then died. 2 Kings 4:17-20
At this moment, the woman had a choice. Get angry or be content. The power of self-control this woman exhibits is astounding. Her hope and her future, her gift from God, had just died in her arms. What transpires next is astounding!
And she went up and laid him on the bed of the man of God, shut the door upon him, and went out. Then she called to her husband, and said, “Please send me on of the young men and one of the donkeys, that I may run to the man of God and come back.” So he said, “Why are you going to him today? It is neither the New Moon nor the Sabbath.” And she said, “It is well.” 2 Kings 4: 21-23
She had already made her choice. She didn’t succumb to the pain of the loss of her son, give into the anger, or curl up in self-pity. She saddled up and rode toward her solution. If you noticed, she didn’t tell anyone that her son had died. She laid him in a room no one would walk into. She didn’t even tell her husband what had transpired. Even when he questioned her, she chose to speak in faith, and to ride in faith, despite what society or even her husband thought was out of the norm! She didn’t put her contentment in a body or a boy, she believed that what God had given her this world could not take away. She didn’t talk about her problem, she did something about it! She knew her husband could not help her so she didn’t complain about her problem to him. She knew that Elisha’s servant couldn’t help her so she didn’t even complain about her problem to him….
Then she saddled the donkey, and said to her servant, “Drive, and go forward; do not slacken the pace for me unless I tell you.” And so she departed, and went to the man of God at Mount Carmel. So it was, when the man of God saw her afar off, that he said to his servant Gehazi, “Look, the Shunammite woman! Please run now to meet her, and say to her, ‘Is it well with you? Is it well with your husband? Is it well with your child?’ ” And she answered, “It is well.” 2 Kings 4: 24-26
PLEASE tell me you are reading and getting this with me. Again she answered the servant the same as her husband, “it is well”. Was she lying to him? No! She was making a choice not to bring a problem before a person who could do nothing to help her and she was also choosing to speak in faith at the same time. In Romans 4:16-17 we are told that promises come by faith so that is may be by grace and be guaranteed to all, and that God calls those things that are not, as though they were! A powerful notion and something this woman instinctively knew. What was spoken in Romans would come much later in the time line to the story we are learning from here.
Now when she came to the man of God at the hill, she caught him by the feet, but Gehazi came near to push her away. But the man of God said, “Let her alone; for her soul is in deep distress, and the Lord has hidden it from me, and has not told me.” 2 Kings 4: 27
Wow, the Lord hid from Elisha what the woman was going through. This story isn’t written into the living Word of God by chance or accident. This story was put there for us. This woman showed godly attributes in the mist of a tragic story, that through her tragedy we may learn how to over come our own tragedies, in a way that puts the power into God’s hands so that he may speak those things which aren’t as though they where and provide for us the promises and blessing He always meant us to have!
This woman’s soul was in deep distress, she was hurting and in pain, but she let faith speak for her. She didn’t let the thoughts in her head drive her but the words of life she would speak with her tongue! In this she paved the path for the power of God to be released into the physical.
So she said, “Did I ask a son of my lord? Did I not say, ‘Do not device me’?” Then he said to Gehazi, “Get yourself ready, and take my staff in you hand, and be on your way. If you meet anyone, do not greet him; and if anyone greets you, do not answer him, but lay my staff on the face of the child.” And the mother of the child said, “As the Lord lives, and as your soul lives, I will not leave you.” So he arose and followed her. Now Gehazi went on ahead of them, and laid the staff on the face of the child; but there was neither voice nor hearing. Therefore he went back to meet him, and told him saying, “The child has not awakened.” When Elisha came into the house, there was the child, lying dead on his bed. He went in therefore, shut the door behind the two of them, and prayed to the Lord. And he went up and lay on the child, and put his mouth on his mouth, his eyes on his eyes, and his hands on his hands; and he stretched himself out on the child, and the flesh of the child became warm. He returned and walked back and forth in the house, and again went up and stretched himself out on him; then the child sneezed seven times, and the child opened his eye. And he called Gehazi and said, “Call this Shunammite woman.” So he called her. And when she came in to him, he said, “Pick up you son.” So she went in, fell at his feet, and bowed to the ground; then she picked up her son and went out. 2 Kings 4:28-36
At the end of this story we know that God gave and restored her son. The Shunammite woman walked through a horrible tragedy and an amazing miracle. For what? So that God could teach us through her character and her story. God knew there would be a day when His spirit would no longer strive with man on earth (Genesis 6:3) and He needed a way to continue to teach us, so that His judgment would not fall so severely upon those who obey His Word and had faithful hearts before Him.
What are the take aways from this story found in 2 Kings 4:8-36? This…
Get UP – STOP complaining – find CONTENTMENT in your current situation – SERVE others without a thought to gain – and journey in FAITH. Become an “IT IS WELL” type of person. You will be amazed at the way it will release the power of God in your life!
Grab a sticky note or a piece of paper and some tape. Write “IT IS WELL! 2 Kings 4:8-36” and stick it to your bathroom mirror, your steering wheel, by the coffee pot, and the corner of your computer at work. Let it be a reminder to stop complaining to your husband, stop complaining to your friends, stop complaining on your job or in your car. Start living the life you desire….A life where triumph or tragedy…IT IS WELL…because you know who to go to, to get things done, the Creator of the Universe! With Him, triumph or tragedy, ALL is WELL!