Unfaltering faith. It is a gift God offers us on a daily basis. Do we have the faith to trust Him with our provision? Do we have the faith to walk in submission to Him? Do we have the faith to even believe He is real, moment by moment, day by day? Faith can be a bit of a sticky mess when we start to think about it.
We get caught up in our circumstance. There isn’t enough money in the bank to pay the bills. There’s been a horrible diagnosis from the doctor. Someone needs prayer, and we can’t even muster the faith to pray for ourselves. And then enemy uses shame or fear or sorrow to come in and steal whatever he can of the little faith we have left.
But God isn’t content to let our faith be stolen. We all know that He promises He will work all things for good to those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28) Though, when we’re in the faltering moment, it can be hard to remember that. Faith needs to come from God through hope: hope that God is who He says He is.
8 One day Elisha went on to Shunem, where a wealthy woman lived, who urged him to eat some food. So whenever he passed that way, he would turn in there to eat food. 9 And she said to her husband, “Behold now, I know that this is a holy man of God who is continually passing our way.10 Let us make a small room on the roof with walls and put there for him a bed, a table, a chair, and a lamp, so that whenever he comes to us, he can go in there.”
2 Kings 4:8-10
This wealthy woman takes it upon herself to honor a man of God. Her hope isn’t in the man, but in the God the man serves. She wants to serve this man of God and give him her best because of her blind hope in God. She shows a faith she may not even be aware of, all because of hope.
God honors her hope and builds her faith further by offering a blessing through Elisha, His servant.
11 One day he came there, and he turned into the chamber and rested there. 12 And he said to Gehazi his servant, “Call this Shunammite.” When he had called her, she stood before him. 13 And he said to him, “Say now to her, ‘See, you have taken all this trouble for us; what is to be done for you? Would you have a word spoken on your behalf to the king or to the commander of the army?’” She answered, “I dwell among my own people.”
2 Kings 4:11-13
The woman asks for nothing in return for her provision for Elisha. She never looked at her hospitality as a way to earn anything from God or His servant. She gave from what she had. I don’t think she thought anything more about it, but that it was right to honor God’s servant. She was content with the blessing of being able to serve God as she had.
Elisha, though, is prompted to do more for her. He wants to show her God’s blessing. God’s blessings can be a reward for faith.
16 And he said, “At this season, about this time next year, you shall embrace a son.” And she said, “No, my lord, O man of God; do not lie to your servant.” 17 But the woman conceived, and she bore a son about that time the following spring, as Elisha had said to her.
2 Kings 4:16-17
God offers her something miraculous. The gift of a son wasn’t even on her radar, and that’s what He offers her. God uses her faith to foreshadow the coming Messiah: a son born of miraculous circumstances. The woman is startled and uncertain, but she receives her son.
And then he dies.
18 When the child had grown, he went out one day to his father among the reapers. 19 And he said to his father, “Oh, my head, my head!” The father said to his servant, “Carry him to his mother.” 20 And when he had lifted him and brought him to his mother, the child sat on her lap till noon, and then he died.
2 Kings 4:18-20
Wow. The son she was given dies. How could that be a blessing? How could that be good? Why would God punish her for serving Elisha with such a cruel joke? It’s hard not to think these things. People do it all the time. Something goes wrong in the moment and the response is to go right to the source and question God.
But not this gal. Nope. She’s resolute. She’s unfaltering. Her faith is solidly built on the hope of God’s reality. Like Abraham, she decided to persist in her faith, even though her son was dead. Even Abraham didn’t have to go that far! He got provided with a ram for sacrifice before having to kill his son. (Genesis Ch. 22)
Then she called to her husband and said, “Send me one of the servants and one of the donkeys, that I may quickly go to the man of God and come back again.” 23 And he said, “Why will you go to him today? It is neither new moon nor Sabbath.” She said, “All is well.” 24 Then she saddled the donkey, and she said to her servant, “Urge the animal on; do not slacken the pace for me unless I tell you.” 25 So she set out and came to the man of God at Mount Carmel.
2 Kings 4:22-25
Her response? “All is well.” Wow. What a powerful testimony. Unfaltering faith in action! She knows all will be well because of her faith and hope in God. With expediency she sets out to receive her son’s life back.
When the man of God saw her coming, he said to Gehazi his servant, “Look, there is the Shunammite. 26 Run at once to meet her and say to her, ‘Is all well with you? Is all well with your husband? Is all well with the child?’” And she answered, “All is well.” 27 And when she came to the mountain to the man of God, she caught hold of his feet. And Gehazi came to push her away. But the man of God said, “Leave her alone, for she is in bitter distress, and the Lord has hidden it from me and has not told me.”
2 Kings 4:25-27
Again, as she approaches Elisha and he asks her what is going on, she responds with “All is well.” Wow, again! Though she is in the midst of “bitter distress” she clings to the hope of God with the steadfast truth that “all is well.” In her heart, God would and could give her son life.
The foreshadowing of Christ returns again! When Jesus died on the cross, all was still well, even in the distress and pain and fear of that moment. His friends and family were distraught. But all was well. Jesus would be resurrected! The Promise was not defeated. The Promise was victorious. Three days later, Jesus rose from the dead!
Life would also be given to the Shunammite woman’s son. But not before a testing and trying of faith and hope. What happens if nothing happens?
28 Then she said, “Did I ask my lord for a son? Did I not say, ‘Do not deceive me?’” 29 He said to Gehazi, “Tie up your garment and take my staff in your hand and go. If you meet anyone, do not greet him, and if anyone greets you, do not reply. And lay my staff on the face of the child.” 30 Then the mother of the child said, “As the Lord lives and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.” So he arose and followed her.31 Gehazi went on ahead and laid the staff on the face of the child, but there was no sound or sign of life. Therefore he returned to meet him and told him, “The child has not awakened.”
It’s hard to keep ahold of hope when nothing happens.
But something does happen. Elisha contends for the woman’s son. He doesn’t give up. He stands in faith with the woman that God will act. They partnered in faith and stubbornly waited for God.
32 When Elisha came into the house, he saw the child lying dead on his bed. 33 So he went in and shut the door behind the two of them and prayed to the Lord. 34 Then he went up and lay on the child, putting his mouth on his mouth, his eyes on his eyes, and his hands on his hands. And as he stretched himself upon him, the flesh of the child became warm. 35 Then he got up again and walked once back and forth in the house, and went up and stretched himself upon him. The child sneezed seven times, and the child opened his eyes. 36 Then he summoned Gehazi and said, “Call this Shunammite.” So he called her. And when she came to him, he said, “Pick up your son.” 37 She came and fell at his feet, bowing to the ground. Then she picked up her son and went out.
2 Kings 4:32-37
A partnership of unfaltering faith between the woman, her husband, the servant Gehazi, and Elisha, brought life. Partnership strengthened faith. Hope in God strengthened faith. And unfaltering faith brought life.
So, as we look to Jesus and his death, burial, and resurrection, may we join together with unfaltering faith, knowing that the Lord will be true to His promises for us. All is well.
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”