I was so struck by this example of faith in my reading this week I could not wait to share it! Hang in there with the 30 verses, the lesson is worth it!
2 Kings 4:4-34
The Shunammite Woman
8 Now there came a day when Elisha went over to Shunem, where there was a prominent and influential woman, and she persuaded him to eat a meal. Afterward, whenever he passed by, he stopped there for a meal. 9 She said to her husband, “Behold, I sense that this is a holy man of God who frequently passes our way. 10 Please, let us make a small, fully-walled upper room [on the housetop] and put a bed there for him, with a table, a chair, and a lampstand. Then whenever he comes to visit us, he can turn in there.”
11 One day he came there and turned in to the upper room and lay down to rest. 12 And he said to Gehazi his servant, “Call this Shunammite.” So he called her and she stood before him. 13 Now he said to Gehazi, “Say to her now, ‘You have gone to all this trouble for us; what can I do for you? Would you like to be mentioned to the king or to the captain of the army?’” She answered, “I live among my own people [in peace and security and need no special favors].” 14 Later Elisha said, “What then is to be done for her?” Gehazi answered, “Well, she has no son and her husband is old.” 15 He said, “Call her.” So Gehazi called her, and she [came and] stood in the doorway. 16 Elisha said, “At this season next year, you will embrace a son.” She said, “No, my lord. O man of God, do not lie to your maidservant.”
17 But the woman conceived and gave birth to a son at that season the next year, just as Elisha had said to her.
The Shunammite’s Son
18 When the child was grown, the day came that he went out to his father, to the reapers. 19 But he said to his father, “My head, my head.” The man said to his servant, “Carry him to his mother.” 20 When he had carried and brought him to his mother, he sat on her lap until noon, and then he [b]died. 21 She went up and laid him on the bed of the man of God, and shut the door [of the small upper room] behind him and left. 22 Then she called to her husband and said, “Please send me one of the servants and one of the donkeys, so that I may run to the man of God and return.” 23 He said, “Why are you going to him today? It is neither the New Moon nor the Sabbath.” And she said, “It will be all right.” 24 Then she saddled the donkey and said to her servant, “Drive [the animal] fast; do not slow down the pace for me unless I tell you.” 25 So she set out and came to the man of God at Mount Carmel.
When the man of God saw her at a distance, he said to Gehazi his servant, “Look, there is the Shunammite woman. 26 Please run now to meet her and ask her, ‘Is it well with you? Is it well with your husband? Is it well with the child?’” And she answered, “It is well.” 27 When she came to the mountain to the man of God, she took hold of his feet. Gehazi approached to push her away; but the man of God said, “Let her alone, for her soul is desperate and troubled within her; and the Lord has hidden the reason from me and has not told me.” 28 Then she said, “Did I ask for a son from my lord? Did I not say, ‘Do not give me false hope’?”
29 Then he said to Gehazi, “[c]Gird up your loins (prepare now!) and take my staff in your hand, and go [to the woman’s house]; if you meet any man [along the way], do not greet him and if a man greets you, do not [stop to] answer him; and lay my staff on the face of the boy [as soon as you reach the house].” 30 The mother of the child said, “As the Lord lives and as your soul lives, I will not leave you.” So Elisha arose and followed her. 31 Gehazi went on ahead of them and laid the staff on the boy’s face, but there was no sound or response [from the boy]. So he turned back to meet Elisha and told him, “The boy has not awakened (revived).”
32 When Elisha came into the house, the child was dead and lying on his bed. 33 So he went in, shut the door behind the two of them, and prayed to the Lord. 34 Then 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 as he stretched himself out on him and held him, the boy’s skin became warm. 35 Then he returned and walked in the house once back and forth, and went up [again] and stretched himself out on him; and the boy sneezed seven times and he opened his eyes. 36 Then Elisha called Gehazi and said, “Call this Shunammite.” So he called her. And when she came to him, he said, “Pick up your son.” 37 She came and fell at his feet, bowing herself to the ground [in respect and gratitude]. Then she picked up her son and left.
Scripture says that this woman from Shunem was a wealthy woman who, seeing Elisha was a holy man, blessed the prophet with meals and a place to stay. For her reward, God gave the woman a miracle: a son of her own.
Later her son dies in her arms. Rather than travailing or running to her husband with her pain she immediately acts in faith. She knows exactly where help lies. It is with Elisha. This child was a miracle, a gift given her by his hand when she could not naturally have a child. She is fully convinced that he walks in the power of God. If he could do one miracle then he could perform another… So she takes her son to Elisha’s bed and says nothing to anyone, in effect hiding his condition from everyone, and simply calls out to her husband and asks for a donkey and driver to take her to Elisha. In fact when asked both by her husband and later by Elisha’s servant, her response is the same: It is well, everything is fine! Its all right!
To give you perspective this was a 15-mile journey to Mount Carmel from Shunem, no wonder she is putting pressure on the driver and donkey for speed!
As she approaches, Elisha sends his servant to find out what the problem is yet she does not give a hint to what is wrong, this woman is determined to speak only to Elisha, believing he alone will know what to do. When she gets to him she falls at his feet for her son.
Elisha then sends Gehazi his servant ahead with his staff to lay it on the boy. Rather than run ahead with the servant as some may have done she stays right by Elisha, vowing not to leave his side, so he goes to her house himself with her. Her confidence was not in his staff or servant but in him alone. Elisha arrives at her house and breathes life back into her son.
With a 30 mile round trip by foot this had to be hours later. When I googled it this is what I found:
“A trained walker can walk a 26.2-mile marathon in eight hours or less, or walk 20 to 30 miles in a day.”
That boy had been dead for probably 8-12 hours.
In my mind this is a picture of amazing faith in the face of seemingly impossible odds.
I sensed when I read this story that The Shunammite’s son was restored to life through Elisha the prophet in part because of her faith and the power of positive confession. She was so careful with her emotions and her tongue.
Proverbs 18:21 NLT
The tongue can bring death of life; those who love to talk will reap the consequences.
It is so tempting to cry out and reiterate the tragedy, challenge, pain or the fear we face. It takes great self-control and faith to instead keep our tongue and speak only what the word says. It is so easy to run to others for comfort or answers rather to the one we know is the source of all solutions and miracles. This woman’s response was amazing. It was calm and steady. With rigid determination she went right to the source of her first miracle for the second one she needed. She did not stop for counsel, she did not stop for comfort, she did not stop until she was at his feet and she would not leave his side until he moved on her behalf.
My reaction to tragedy or fear is often times weak knees and too much verbal processing. However, when reading this story the Lord reminded me of my immediate reaction to my son Jason’s accident when he broke his neck 6 years ago. I know it was pure grace but I was oddly calm and then calculated. I simply called prayer partners and then prayed and grabbed my bible for every promise of healing I could find. Perhaps it was the severity of the problem at hand or like the Shunnanitte woman, faith born out of absolute desperation. My boy was paralyzed and I needed a miracle, plain and simple. Nothing else would help or suffice.
This week I was left wondering what our lives would look like if, as we face challenges big and small our reaction would be consistently like the Shunnamitte woman. Focused determination not to speak the problem but to run to God, the source of all miracles and promises and fall at His feet alone staying by His side until the answer came.