Giving your all
“When the child was older, he went out one day to his father among the reapers. He complained to his father, “Oh, my head, my head!” The father said to his servant, “Carry him to his mother.” He carried him and brought him to his mother; the child sat on her lap until noon, and he died. She went up and laid him on the bed of the man of God, closed the door on him, and left. Then she called to her husband, and said, “Send me one of the servants and one of the donkeys, so that I may quickly go to the man of God and come back again.” He said, “Why go to him today? It is neither new moon nor sabbath.” She said, “It will be all right.” Then she saddled the donkey and said to her servant, “Urge the animal on; do not hold back for me unless I tell you.” So she set out, and came to the man of God at Mount Carmel.
When the man of God saw her coming, he said to Gehazi his servant, “Look, there is the Shunammite woman; run at once to meet her, and say to her, Are you all right? Is your husband all right? Is the child all right?” She answered, “It is all right.” When she came to the man of God at the mountain, she caught hold of his feet. Gehazi approached to push her away. But the man of God said, “Let her alone, for she is in bitter distress; the Lord has hidden it from me and has not told me.” Then she said, “Did I ask my lord for a son? Did I not say, Do not mislead me?” He said to Gehazi, “Gird up your loins, and take my staff in your hand, and go. If you meet anyone, give no greeting, and if anyone greets you, do not answer; and lay my staff on the face of the child.” Then the mother of the child said, “As the Lord lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave without you.” So he rose up and followed her. Gehazi went on ahead and laid the staff on the face of the child, but there was no sound or sign of life. He came back to meet him and told him, “The child has not awakened.”
When Elisha came into the house, he saw the child lying dead on his bed. So he went in and closed the door on the two of them, and prayed to the Lord. Then he got up on the bed and lay upon the child, putting his mouth upon his mouth, his eyes upon his eyes, and his hands upon his hands; and while he lay bent over him, the flesh of the child became warm. He got down, walked once to and fro in the room, then got up again and bent over him; the child sneezed seven times, and the child opened his eyes. Elisha summoned Gehazi and said, “Call the Shunammite woman.” So he called her. When she came to him, he said, “Take your son.” She came and fell at his feet, bowing to the ground; then she took her son and left. ”
This story is not about a normal family. This is a story about gratitude, blessing, and trust.
This foreign woman gave shelter to the aging prophet Elisha and asked nothing in return. When he asked how he could bless her, she said she needed nothing. She was provided for by an aging husband and well thought of in the community. Elisha was relentless in his desire to bless her though, and noting that they were childless, he told her she would bear a son soon. I don’t know how old she was, but between her and her husband, they had given up hope for children. It sounded like false hope to her and she asked him not to taunt her with such foolish promises. Yet she did indeed bear a son.
This passage picks up the story several years later, when that miracle child suffered an unusual headache. His father brought him in to his mother and he laid there with her until he died. Many people would have been furious with grief, cursed Elisha and his God for being cruel in providing them with the blessing of a child and then taking them away so soon. That kind of reaction would be understandable. Not right, but understandable.
The Shunammite woman did not respond that way though. Instead she put the child on the bed that the prophet had slept in, packed her bags, and headed off to find Elisha. Elisha saw her coming from a distance and prepared to meet her. He intended to send his servant with his staff to go back to the boy and restore him to life. The woman was relentless though and refused to leave without Elisha himself. (In some ways this is a counter example of the faith of the centurion and also similar to the faith of this gentile woman)
The kind of faith exemplified here is not blind faith, but persistent faith. It is inspirational as well because even as the mother would not give up:
1. when her son died
2. when Elisha did not want to come back with her
3. when the boy did not awaken at the touch of the staff
So also Elisha did not give up and eventually crawled on top of the boy to warm his body and breath life into him anew. I don’t know how this worked any more than I know how any of the other biblical miracles worked. What strikes me about this passage though is the persistence of everyone in bringing this boy back to life, and the grateful trust that God would provide. There are few things that make you unclean by Old Testament Law more than crawling into bed with a corpse – which ma be why Elisha did not even want to come back into the house to begin with… but in the end, he was willing to give up his own state of spiritual cleanliness for the sake of this faimly and bringing new life to them again.
How far would you be willing to go to bless someone in need?
Who are the grateful foreign families around you that do not know God but may be waiting for you to share your life and your faith with them?