Text: 2 Kings 4:25-30
Have you ever dreamed or hoped for something that never became a reality in your life and now you don't even want to talk about it? Your dreams have been crushed so many times that you have built a shield around your heart. That is this woman's story. She tried unsuccessfully for years to have a baby, and then finally she gave up on this dream. She pushed this desire so far from her that even when the Prophet Elisha himself asked her what she needed, she didn't even ask for a child. Can we blame her? All of her hopes of having a baby were gone. But God knew what this woman was lacking and what was deep in her heart, and so the prophet told her that in one year she would be able to hold her very own child. What joy! And then what sorrow! This gift of a son is torn away just a few years later when her son suddenly dies. Can you imagine what she was feeling? How would you have reacted in this situation?
We can learn a great deal from this woman and how she reacted. First, she put the child on the bed where the prophet used to sleep, preparing for the prophet's arrival. Next, when her husband asked her to wait until another day to find the prophet, she did not delay but replied "shalom" (peace). She gave a similar response to the servant: "all is well." However, when she finally arrived, she cried and lay at Elisha's feet, begging him to go and see her son. Can you maintain the peace of your house in the middle of a troubling time? She did. Her dream was dead before her eyes, but she was able to maintain the peace in her house and brought her troubles and sorrows to the only person who could change the situation. Can you do the same? Can you bring your problems directly to God and believe that He is the only one who can change and revive what is dead? Hope is the only thing that can sustain us in the middle of terrible trials. Do not place your hope and faith in anything or anyone who doesn't have the power to change it. Go to God! He is the only Hope. He will listen to His daughters when they run to Him and fall at His feet.
The themes of presence, vulnerability, and provision are woven throughout this story. In the beginning, the Shunammite woman goes out of her way to have Elisha stay with her. She asks nothing of him, but simply wants to be in his presence -- to have this man who speaks and acts on behalf of God in her home. When Elisha asks what she needs, at first she is unwilling to express her need for a child, but God gives her a son in spite of her willingness to ask or be vulnerable. In the beginning we see a woman who desperately wants to be near God but who doesn't know how to be honest about her needs and desires -- someone who gives but is unable to receive from God. Have you ever interacted with God in this way? You long to be near Him and honor Him as your Lord, but you struggle to let Him into your innermost thoughts, to be honest about your fears and longings.
As the story progresses and the Shunammite is given a son who is tragically killed, we suddenly see a dramatic switch. This woman now knows exactly what she wants to ask for and she once again seeks this only in God's presence. Her husband seems resigned to his fate and his loss, but this woman (like the parable of the persistent widow) knows what to ask for and who to ask it from. She boldly and vulnerably casts herself at the feet of Elisha; she rushes into God's presence with honesty and confidence. The final part of this story occurs in 2 Kings 8:1-6. Here Elisha warns the Shunammite woman of a coming famine and so she flees to the land of the Philistines for seven years. Upon her return she must go to the king to appeal for her land back -- no simple request! With boldness she enters the king's court to declare her needs and The Lord gives her great favor. Not only are her lands restored but the king also gives her all of the produce from the fields for the seven years she was gone! When she asks, God gives abundantly!
The Shunammite woman encourages me to daily seek out God's presence, to give the Holy Spirit a home in my life and heart. She reminds me that my hopes and needs and longings can only be fulfilled by God, and that He wants me to learn to verbalize these needs and to bring them to Him. As Hebrews 4:16 says, "Let us then approach God's throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need." God richly blesses those who diligently seek him, so why would I seek anyone else? Let’s join together as women of hope and seek God with our whole hearts – seeking out His presence and also giving Him the space to enter even the most desperate and painful parts of our hearts.