Her response

Read 2 Kings 4 (8-36) about the Shunammite woman. She has an amazing story. In summary, this prominent woman offered her hospitality to Elisha, a prophet and man of God. It began with meals and ended with a guest room in her home. To repay her kindness, Elisha asked what he could do for her. She requested nothing in return, but because Elisha knew she and her husband were childless, he predicted she would have a son. This was a big deal in the culture. Clearly, this was a point of pain and shame for her because she protested. “Don’t mess with me holy man, this one hurts.”

She had a son. He grew. He died in her arms. She laid her dead son in Elisha’s room and went to see him in anguish. She was so angry. She reminded Elisha of her protest. This pain was too great – she didn’t ask for it. Elisha raised the boy for the dead and presented him to his mother.

Okay. If we read this simply as an old testament story, we may walk away from it with a reverence for God’s power and authority. Even the dead are not beyond his loving touch. He heals. Miracles are available through His sovereignty.

Let’s look closer, though. Here’s what I think we can learn. It’s all based on the Shunammite woman’s responses to her circumstances.

1. She offered what she had to Elisha. She gave to him out of her bounty.

2. Because of her generosity, she was blessed in a way that she could not have imagined.

3. She responded to Elisha’s announcement of a son, her greatest dream, honestly and from her heart.

4. When her son died, she went to Elisha. She sought only Elisha. She didn’t even tell anyone else what had happened, let along seek their pity or assistance.

5. She expressed her anger and confusion directly to Elisha. Again, her response was genuine and honest.

6. When Elisha presented her son, she “came, fell at his feet, and bowed to the ground” (verse 37). Then, and only then, did she pick up her son.

Now, do this. First, replace the Shunammite woman with you. I think it’s no accident that she was not named; she is the best me, she is the best you. Second, replace Elisha with God. The woman had no choice but to seek Elisha. Prior to the arrival of Jesus, there was a veil between God and man. Now, we have direct access.

Review her responses with the two substitutions. As you seek a relationship with your Savior, follow her steps:

  • be generous
  • be honest
  • go to Him with your pain, your hope, your fear
  • whatever happens, worship Him first.

About Tony Schmitz

Tony Schmitz received his BS in Mechanical Engineering from Temple University in 1993, his MS in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Florida in 1996, and his PhD in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Florida in 1999. He is a mechanical engineering professor at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.
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