The last time we left the Shunammite woman, she was on her journey to find Elisha to tell him that her promised son had died. (See the June Messenger Bible study.) The lessons from Part 1: See the need and take action. Dreams can live again. Run to your answer.
Lesson #4—It is well
Elisha was at Mt. Carmel when he saw the Shunammite woman coming. Even though she was still a great distance away, he wanted his servant to run and ask her if all was well with her and with her family. Gehazi did just that.
What if this story were your story? What would have been your response had you been asked the same question? If you had laid your dead child upon a bed and walked out of the room, how would have you answered Elisha?
The Shunammite woman said, “It is well.” What? Are you serious? Your child is lying dead back there in your house and you say that it is well? How can you say that on the darkest day of your life? Are you out of your mind? Are you in denial?
I don’t know what the Shunammite woman was thinking, but in her answer I see faith and hope. She came to the one whom she believed could do something about her problem. Her faith was able to say, “It is well,” even though her circumstances said otherwise.
In a way, this is our story, too. It is the story of the ages. It is the story of God, and our faith in God. People of faith have had troubles and trials throughout history. Noah had never seen a rainstorm, yet he was charged with building a large boat. Consider his hardships. He endured—and was he glad.
Consider Abraham and Isaac. God wanted to know where Abraham’s loyalty lay. Abraham raised the knife, and God was satisfied with the answer.
Joseph was sold into slavery by his brothers, was enticed by his boss’s wife, and jailed for being righteous. The Bible says that the Lord was with Joseph, even in prison. Do you hear the echoes down the corridors of that jail? It is well. It is well.
Moses and the children of Israel faced the Red Sea, blocking their advance. Pharaoh and his army were racing to capture them and take them back to Egypt. Was all well? It was—God delivered them.
What about Rahab? She defied her country and spared the spies. She showed her faith by a scarlet cord hanging from her window. And, when the dust cleared, she and her household were saved. All was well.
“It worked out for those people,” you may say, “but what about the ones in the family line of faith who were stoned or slain with a sword, who were destitute, afflicted, and tormented?
What about Christians today who suffer disease or are beheaded by ISIS? Is it well?”
Twenty-one Egyptian Coptic Christians were beheaded earlier this year by Islamic State militants. Milad Saber was one of those killed. At the moment of his decapitation, he invoked the name of Jesus Christ.
His mother recalled the last phone call she received from her son. “Usually my husband takes his cell phone with him to the fields. This day, he forgot the device at home. Therefore, I decided to bring it to him. On my way to the fields, the phone rang, I answered and my beloved son asked, ‘Mother, do you need anything?’ I answered, ‘I want everything to be good with you. We are told the situation is not good there. Come back, my son.’ He answered, ‘Don’t worry, Mother. Let God protect us, and whatever is set for us shall happen.’”
With a pained smile, she added, “Having one of ours as a martyr in heaven is a huge blessing and a big grace that we don’t deserve. . . . I will not forget his last words, ‘I am coming back, Mother. Bless me and find me a beautiful wife. . . .”
Your path may be painful, your days may be difficult, your situation may be serious. As Christians, even through our trials and tears, we are called to look through the eyes of faith and, along with the Shunammite woman, say, “It is well.”
It is well not because of our strength but because of God’s. It is well not because our stories always work out the way we want, but because God works for our good. It is well not because the journey is easy, but because God is our living guide.
Lesson #5—A call to obedience
The Shunammite woman came to Elisha after encountering his servant. In her distress, she grabbed the prophet by the feet and reminded him of his promise to her for a son. Elisha sent his servant to the dead boy. Gehazi was to take the staff of Elisha and hurry to the Shunammite’s house, not stopping to talk to others or even acknowledging anyone along the way. Upon his arrival, Gehazi was to lay the staff on the face of the child. Gehazi didn’t waste any time. He was a man on a mission, and his purpose was straightforward. He had a task to complete.
What if Gehazi had figured the staff was unimportant, had visited with others or stopped to dine along the way? But he didn’t. Gehazi did what he was told—and so should we.
Recently I heard a speaker say, “God is God, and we aren’t.” We are called to obey. God knows best. As a child, I heard this phrase in our home: “Delayed obedience is disobedience.” How are we doing with obeying God?
Lesson #6—Death defied
The Shunammite woman refused to leave Elisha. She would not let go until this situation was solved. So Elisha followed her back to her home. I like the faith and determination of this woman. She wasn’t satisfied that death was final.
As the woman and Elisha traveled home, they were met with devastating news. The child had not woken. Upon Elisha’s arrival, the child was still dead. When Elisha entered the room, he shut the door and prayed. I love that response. Prayer should be the pinnacle in solving a problem. I can picture a weary, weeping woman outside the room, also praying.
After a series of events that included Elisha’s lying on the child twice and his pacing in the house, the promised child sneezed seven times and opened his eyes. Elisha asked his servant to call this faithful woman to attend a joyful reunion.
Lesson #7—Grateful hearts
First of all, the Shunammite woman was thankful. The Bible says that she went into the room and fell at the feet of Elisha. It was in that same room that she had left her dead son on the bed hours before. And there, in that same room, she received the blessing of a living son.
Are we thankful? God is so good to us. God daily loads us with benefits. Do we see the blessings and thank God for both the little things and the big things? Do we always expect good from God’s hand?
I look forward one day to finding this woman in heaven and talking for awhile. I want to hear her story. I think she will want to hear our stories, too.
Melody Keller lives in Wales, Maine, and is a member of the Lewiston (Maine) Church of the Brethren.