As we begin the month of May, I thought about Mother’s Day that is quickly approaching. This serves as a reminder for all the men out there! 😉 Of course, I have never thought that Mother’s Day is sufficient as it is not about one day, but EVERY day that we celebrate and honor the help-meet that God created for man who does so much in the home and for our children. There are many valuable lessons that we find that women of the Bible have taught, and many times are not as mentioned as much as the men of the Bible. Consider with me a woman that is not even named yet teaches some valuable lessons.
In 2 Kings 4, we find the Shunammite Woman. This woman is described in verse 8 as being ‘a notable woman.’ Other translations use the word “great” or “prominent”. By looking at her attributes, her character, it is pretty evident as to the reason she is described in such a wonderful way. In verses 8-10, this woman persuaded the prophet Elisha to eat some food and from that time on, as often as Elisha passed by, he would go to her house and eat some food. The Shunammite woman demonstrated her compassion, her kindness in that she wanted him to be well fed obviously, but she also went on to speak with her husband about her perception that Elisha was a man of God and how he passes by on a regular basis, so her request was to make a small upper room for Elisha to accommodate him, to make him feel welcome and comfortable. She was willing to get involved and that through her compassion, she practiced hospitality. Isn’t that what we even find in the scriptures about what God would have us do today? Show compassion, practice hospitality! (cf. Romans 12:13). The Shunammite woman’s compassionate and hospitable character shows us that even in something that may be considered small or insignificant as a meal, a place to lay down, is worth the effort because it will have an impact. Not just on those who we demonstrate compassion to or hospitable towards, but it will in turn help us. Such reminded me of a quote that says, “I slept and dreamt that life was joy. I awoke and saw that life was service. I acted and behold, service was joy” (Rabindranath Tagore). I believe the Shunammite woman found that service was joy to her in helping another.
Another lesson that the Shunammite woman teaches us is that she was content (cf. 2 Kings 4:12-17). Due to all of her compassion and hospitality, the prophet Elisha desired to do something for this notable woman. The Shunammite woman has been feeding Elisha and accommodating him in a room prepared for him to stay in as he traveled through. Elisha acknowledged such in his words, that she has been careful for us with all this care! Elisha was more than willing to express and demonstrate his gratitude and even says that he would speak with the king, the army commander on her behalf. Have you ever thought to yourself what you would have said if you were asked what could be done for you to repay your kindness, compassion, hospitality? Some might be tempted to say, “well now that you mention it, I would like… fill in the blank.” The Shunammite woman’s response in verse 13 was “I live among my own people.” What is she saying here?! She is saying that she is content with what she has. She was not acting in service to get special recognition, or to improve her status in society, she was doing it from a humble and caring heart to provide for Elisha as an act of devotion to God. She was content!
The Shunammite woman was just expressing that she was content with what she had already. She had perspective! We need to have that kind of perspective as well today (cf. 1 Timothy 6:6-8; Philippians 4:11; Hebrews 13:5).
Due to such a wonderful outlook, God honored her contentment by promising her a son within a year and as always, His promise came true! In verse 17, “The woman conceived and bore a son at that season the next year, as Elisha had said to her.” What is astonishing is that the Shunammite woman’s contentment enabled her to show her confidence (cf. 2 Kings 4:18-37). Within approximately a 4- or 5-year span due to the Shunammite woman’s son being now old enough to join his father among the reapers, the boy becomes ill. Dad sends him to mom and the boy ends up dying on his mother’s lap. The Shunammite woman shows her contentment and confidence in what she does in the following verses. The Shunammite woman’s great confidence in her crisis was in the power and presence of God! Even in the midst of horrific circumstances, her faith said, “it will be well.” In verses 22-23, the woman told her husband that she wanted to visit Elisha, but did not give the reason. He asked her why because it was not the new moon or the Sabbath, occasions when work would cease and many would assemble together to study the Word of God at the feet of a prophet. He had no idea what had happened to his son. She responded with a single Hebrew word, ―Shalom, usually translated as ―peace. It would be like saying today, ―It’s going to be all right, also indicating a refusal to argue a point. So the woman rides toward Mount Carmel to meet up with Elisha. Elisha sees her coming and sends Gehazi to ask her if everything was okay. Verse 26 says, “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 the child‟?” And she answered, “It is well.”
Was everything alright? OF COURSE NOT! She knew her boy was dead, a son she didn’t ask for, a son she had grown to love – her only child, who died in her arms. But she had confidence in God and in the man of God (Elisha) to make things better! She was about to ask the prophet to do something unprecedented and she didn’t know whether or not he would do it (vs. 27-28). But she knew everything would be alright!
Here’s the point: On two separate occasions (vs. 23,26), this woman said, ―It is well, meaning she was at peace, in spite of just losing her only son! That’s faith! No matter what the end result, no matter what the outcome, live or die, she wasn’t going to leave God or leave the man of God who had promised her a son!
May we all have the faith of this Shunammite woman so we can say with her: “IT IS WELL WITH MY SOUL, BEFORE WE EVEN KNOW THE END OF OUR TRIAL.”
As we find in the passage, Elisha comes and puts his body on top of the boy’s body and the child became warm and was restored to life. Elisha called for the Shunammite woman to come in and pick him up and in verse 37, “Then she went in and fell at his feet and bowed herself to the ground (notice that she showed gratitude first), and she took up her son and went out.”
We learn something very valuable. We are accustomed that if everything turns out well and ends well, then all will be well with us! The Shunammite woman had confidence that was entrenched in her faith in God! The Shunammite woman teaches us to have a life of compassion, kindness, service, hospitable, to be content in whatsoever state we find ourselves in, and to never lose our confidence in the power and presence of God. That’s a faith that says, “ALL IS WELL NO MATTER HOW IT ENDS.” “Is it well with your soul?”
Something to think about. Have a great week! – DJ 🙂