Monday, July 18, 2011
The Shunammite Woman
The woman I read about this week in my devotional book is "The Shunammite Woman."
Her story has SO many facets that I want to discuss (and I will do another post in the future about her), but there is one in particular today that really touches me. It has to do with her hope in the face of unimaginable pain.
The Shunammite Woman's story is found in 2 Kings 4: 8-37.
8 One day Elisha went to Shunem, where an important woman lived. She begged Elisha to stay and eat. So every time Elisha passed by, he stopped there to eat.9 The woman said to her husband, "I know that this is a holy man of God who passes by our house all the time.10 Let's make a small room on the roof[a] and put a bed in the room for him. We can put a table, a chair, and a lampstand there. Then when he comes by, he can stay there."
11 One day Elisha came to the woman's house. After he went to his room and rested,12 he said to his servant Gehazi, "Call the Shunammite woman."
When the servant had called her, she stood in front of him.13 Elisha had told his servant, "Now say to her, 'You have gone to all this trouble for us. What can I do for you? Do you want me to speak to the king or the commander of the army for you?' "
She answered, "I live among my own people."
14 Elisha said to Gehazi, "But what can we do for her?"
He answered, "She has no son, and her husband is old."
15 Then Elisha said to Gehazi, "Call her." When he called her, she stood in the doorway.16 Then Elisha said, "About this time next year, you will hold a son in your arms."
The woman said, "No, master, man of God, don't lie to me, your servant!"
17 But the woman became pregnant and gave birth to a son at that time the next year, just as Elisha had told her.
18 The boy grew up and one day went out to his father, who was with the grain harvesters.19 The boy said to his father, "My head! My head!"
The father said to his servant, "Take him to his mother!"20 The servant took him to his mother, and he lay on his mother's lap until noon. Then he died.21 So she took him up and laid him on Elisha's bed. Then she shut the door and left.
22 She called to her husband, "Send me one of the servants and one of the donkeys. Then I can go quickly to the man of God and return."
23 The husband said, "Why do you want to go to him today? It isn't the New Moon or the Sabbath day."
She said, "It will be all right."
24 Then she saddled the donkey and said to her servant, "Lead on. Don't slow down for me unless I tell you."25 So she went to Elisha, the man of God, at Mount Carmel.
When he saw her coming from far away, he said to his servant Gehazi, "Look, there's the Shunammite woman!26 Run to meet her and ask, 'Are you all right? Is your husband all right? Is the boy all right?' "
She answered, "Everything is all right."
27 Then she came to Elisha at the hill and grabbed his feet. Gehazi came near to pull her away, but Elisha said to him, "Leave her alone. She's very upset, and the Lord has not told me about it. He has hidden it from me."
28 She said, "Master, did I ask you for a son? Didn't I tell you not to lie to me?"
29 Then Elisha said to Gehazi, "Get ready. Take my walking stick in your hand and go quickly. If you meet anyone, don't say hello. If anyone greets you, don't respond. Lay my walking stick on the boy's face."
30 The boy's mother said, "As surely as the Lord lives and as you live, I won't leave you!" So Elisha got up and followed her.
31 Gehazi went on ahead and laid the walking stick on the boy's face, but the boy did not talk or move. Then Gehazi went back to meet Elisha. "The boy has not awakened," he said.
32 When Elisha came into the house, the boy was lying dead on his bed.33 Elisha entered the room and shut the door, so only he and the boy were in the room. Then he prayed to the Lord.34 He went to the bed and lay on the boy, putting his mouth on the boy's mouth, his eyes on the boy's eyes, and his hands on the boy's hands. He stretched himself out on top of the boy. Soon the boy's skin became warm.35 Elisha turned away and walked around the room. Then he went back and put himself on the boy again. The boy sneezed seven times and opened his eyes.
36 Elisha called Gehazi and said, "Call the Shunammite!" So he did. When she came, Elisha said, "Pick up your son."37 She came in and fell at Elisha's feet, bowing facedown to the floor. Then she picked up her son and went out.
A lot takes place in between verses 8 and 37. But what I want to talk about today is what she says at the end of verse 23 when asked by her husband about why she was going to see the man of God now at this time on this day...she simply responded, "It will be all right."
Her son had just died. The son that this man of God had promised her. The son that she wanted so desperately that she couldn't even let herself dream of ever actually having him. This son, was gone. Dead.
Yet she says, "It will be all right."
She was obviously very upset, but she did not run to her husband in panic. She held on to hope and went straight to the man of God that had promised her this son. She went to him. With hope in her heart. With the hope that if God could bring this miraculous baby into her life to begin with.....He could most assuredly bring him back to life in the same miraculous way.
And He did.
It's hard to imagine having that kind of hope.
Just after reading the Shunammite Woman's story, I watched the Diane Sawyer interview with Jaycee Dugard. I'm sure most of you are very familiar with her unbelievable story. If not, click here to read about Jaycee Dugard.
It was a powerful interview to say the very least.
All I could think when listening to Jaycee speak was....Jaycee is a modern day Shunammite Woman.
When Diane asked Jaycee questions about her ordeal and how she managed to survive it, she said so many things that really touched me. Overwhelmed me. Humbled me.
"You just do what you have to do to survive."
"Sometimes you have to hold onto any hope to survive."
"I was still alive. There was still hope."
She suffered and survived through unimaginable horrors. Horrors that precious few could even ever comprehend, let alone survive and thrive. Yet in her heart she held onto the hope, much like the Shunammite woman, that one way or another, "It will be all right."
Here is a picture of Jaycee Dugard today.
You'll notice in the picture that she is wearing a necklace with a pinecone charm hanging from it. (You can purchase one of these necklaces from the JAYC Foundation, INC. The money raised through the sales of these necklaces goes to help families that are recovering from abduction and other traumatic experiences.)
Jaycee said, “Back then (the pinecone) was the last thing I touched. You know, the last grip on me. Now, it’s–it’s a symbol of hope and new beginnings. And that–there is life after something tragic....” Dugard told Sawyer that she now wears a symbol of a pinecone around her neck to remind her of the hope that helped her endure 18 years of captivity and the long-delayed freedom she now enjoys.
Jaycee went on to say, "I am so lucky and blessed for all the wonderful things I do have. Even if it is just one thing or person you have to be thankful for, that is enough."
Like the Shunammite Woman, Jaycee held onto hope. In circumstances that most of us will never have to endure, they both held onto hope. They both believed that one way or another, "It will be all right."
"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." ~Hebrews 11:1
I'll never look at a pinecone the same way again. Pinecones have been a nuisance to me in the past, as they fill up our yard and make mowing the grass quite difficult. But now, I will see them differently...no longer nuisances, but symbols of hope.
I'll end with this prayer.
Lord, thank you for sharing with us the story of the Shunammite Woman and for the unbelievable spirit of Jaycee Dugard. Now when I face troubles of any kind...whether relational, physical, financial, or spiritual, regardless of the outcome and no matter how painful the situation may be for me at the time, like Jaycee Dugard and the Shunammite Woman, I know that I, too, can boldly say with You in my life, "It will be all right." In Jesus' Sweet Name, Amen.
"Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful." ~Hebrews 10:23