The story of the Shunammite woman in 2 Kings 4:8-36 speaks of a woman of great faith, who believed God is who He says He is, and He does what He says He will do.
Elisha approaches this dignified woman and asks her if he can stay for dinner. Eventually, whenever he came to her town, he would stop by for a visit and a meal. Since he began visiting quite often, she and her husband decide to make arrangements for him to have a small room in the house with all the essentials: a bed, table, chair and a lamp.
One day, as he was resting in his room, he called out to his servant, Gehazi, and told him to bring this woman to him. He wanted to speak with her. So, of course, she willingly came to see how she could be of service.
Elisha told his servant to tell her, “You’ve made me feel so at home here, what can I do for you in return? Shall I talk to the king or the commander of the army on your behalf?”
She quickly stated she already had a home with her own people, whom she loved.
Again, Elisha asked, “What can I do for you?”
Then Gehazi finally spoke up and stated what the woman would not dare speak of. He told Elisha that she had no son, and her husband was quite old.
So, again Elisha called out to her. She quickly returned to see what this great man of God may request of her. As he stood in the doorway of her home, he said to her, “Next year, you will have a son in your arms.”
“Heaven’s no,” she replied in disbelief, knowing her husband’s age, “please, great man of God, don’t lie to me!”
At this point, she is battling with whether or not this could become a reality. Does she dare dream? Could it be so? Would she really hold a son in her arms within the year?
Shortly thereafter, the woman did become pregnant and gave birth to a son. Her dream had come to fruition – simply by her obedience, hospitality and the favor of God. What Elisha had told her had indeed come true!
As her son was growing up to be a fine young man, one morning he went out to the field to talk with his father. After he had been there for a while, he called to his father, “My head, my head, something is wrong with my head!”
His father then quickly requested the help of a servant and asked him to help carry his son to his mother. After they had carried the boy home, the servant gently placed the boy on his mother’s lap. She fervently prayed and comforted the boy. After lunchtime, as he was still lying upon her lap and not feeling well,…he died.
Let’s pause for moment here in the story. Did you expect this? God had given her an unbelievable gift and now that gift has died. Her dream of raising her son had come to a tragic end.
Once she realized that he was no longer breathing, she carried him to Elisha’s room, shut the door and went out to find her husband.
As she approached her husband, she quickly commanded, “Please find one of the servants and a donkey. I need to go speak to the man of God, Elisha. I must go quickly and return.”
Her husband asked, “Why do you want to go see him today? It’s not the New Moon or the Sabbath.”
As she began saddling the donkey, she replied, “That’s okay, it’s all right.” Then she spoke to the servant, “Let’s go! Don’t even think about slowing down for me unless I tell you I need a break.”
So, they began their journey and found the man of God, Elisha, at Mount Carmel.
When Elisha saw her from quite a ways off, he called to his servant, Gehazi, “Look, there’s that kind Shanammite woman! Go quickly and ask her if she is alright. Be sure to ask about her husband and her child.
Let’s hit the pause button again. Everything is fine? It’s all right? What? Has she had a lapse in memory or is she unable to accept the loss of her son and can’t face reality? How is everything all right?
To be a woman of great faith, you must be able to calm yourself when things are chaotic and out of your control. You must be able to trust and have such great faith in God that He will do the miraculous in your life.
As the story continues, she finally arrived at the mountain and grabbed a hold of Elisha’s feet. Gehazi was startled by her expression and tried to push her away, but Elisha yelled, “Leave her alone! What are you doing? Can’t you see she is upset and in dire need? The LORD has hidden the reason why from me, and I must know.”
As the woman slowly raised her head and glanced upward at Elisha, she cried, “Did I ever ask you for son, man of God? Didn’t I tell you not to raise my hopes?”
Hit the pause button once again. Can you hear her pleading with him? It appears now that reality has set in. Doubt and fear are now grabbing a hold of her heart, as she is beginning to mourn the loss of her son.It’s almost as though she is contemplating whether or not it was worth the risk of loving a son only now to have lost him.
Elisha turns to Gehazi and commands, “Tuck in your cloak inside your belt. Take my staff and run as fast as you can. Do not stop to greet anyone. If someone greets you, do not answer them. As soon as you reach the boy, place my staff on his face.”
The boy’s mother said, “As surely as the LORD lives and as you live, I will not leave you.”
Pause again. Here you can see she still has hope that her son may live. She is not going to leave Elisha’s side regardless of what may or may not have happened. She’s willing to risk everything to see this through.
Elisha got up and followed the woman. His servant had already gone on ahead and laid the staff on the boy’s face. He held his breath as he listened for some glimpse of hope, but there was no sign of life or sound to be heard. As soon as he realized, the staff had no impact on the boy, he ran back out to meet Elisha on the road, and breathlessly moaned, “It’s not working. He won’t wake up!”
When Elisha reached the boy, he was still lying lifeless on the couch. He went inside, shut the door and began praying to the LORD. Then, he got up on the bed and laid on the boy. He began mouth to mouth, eye to eye, and hand to hand. He stretched himself out over the boy, and the boy’s body became warm. Elisha turned away and started pacing the room back and forth. Then, he stretched out upon him once again, mouth to mouth, eye to eye and hand to hand.
The boy sneezed seven times and glanced around the room and then at Elisha.
Elisha quickly called out to Gehazi, “Call the woman!” and he did.
As she entered the house, Elisha said, “Take your son.” She fell at Elisha’s feet and bowed down. Then, embraced her son and went outside.
You see, she had faith in the Dream Giver, and her dream was restored to her. She was obedient, intentional, consistent and accountable.
This story was brought to life in a homeschooling lesson with my kids. As I was reading it, I realized some of us are in a lifeless marriage or relationship. At that time, God may not choose to be in the restoration business, but He might choose to be in the resurrection business! Some of our marriages are dead, and we keep trying to give it CPR. The truth is that once it’s dead, there’s nothing we can do in our power to resuscitate it. Sometimes, I believe God allows something to die so that He can give it new life, new birth, and a new form. Some things may not be salvageable as they once were. Instead, He wants to recreate it and make something entirely new.
This story reminds me that we will receive exactly what we believe. She believed God would bring her son back to life, and He did. She received what she believed.
Scripture says it’s impossible to please God without faith. (Hebrews 11:6) It also says that EVERYTHING is possible for you who believe. (Mark 9:23) You can even have the tiniest little amount of faith and tell a mountain to move! (Matthew 17:20)
So, it comes down to this. Will you become a woman of Great Faith despite your circumstances? When things seem bleak and hopeless, will you cling to that truth that God might just raise that son from the dead?
Without hope, people die. Be a woman of Great Faith and live an abundant life in Him.
Kerry Schortzman is the Director of Operations at Transformed Hearts Counseling Center as well as an author and speaker. She has traveled the road of recovery alongside her husband through the wildfires of intimacy anorexia. She has a heart and passion to see healing and restoration in relationships and marriages as well as to bring public awareness to eliminate sex and human trafficking. Kerry has been married since 1998 and lives in Colorado with her husband and four daughters. She and Cory have been seen on the CBS Early Show, Inside Edition, and ABC Good Morning America, Fox 21 News, and TLC/Discovery discussing the harm of sex addiction and the joys of recovery.
Cory’s books include: Out of the Darkness, Into the Light the Workbook, Into the Light the Steps, Ashes to Beauty the Steps, 301 Dating Ideas, 301 Conversational Ideas, 301 Ways to Say I Love You, 301 Ways to Love Your Children & 301 Recovery Tools & Tips.