THE SHUNAMMITE MIRACLE
She was a nameless lady that saw the impossible become possible (II Ki. 4). During her time (890 BC), Elisha was one of the roaming prophets of the God of Israel. King Ahab and Queen Jezebel had outlawed the prophets and their religion. Baal, a fertility god, had become the religion of Israel. From time to time, Elisha would show up in Shunem. It was a small town hidden away at the outskirts of the Tribe of Issachar where no one would look for Elisha. The people were friendly toward all prophets, especially when they brought some hope to a people that had lost it. The Shunammite lady and her husband belonged to the people that had not made any commitments to Baal. The couple was wealthy, but also brave and compassionate. The lady, especially, took it upon herself to invite Elisha to eat with them when he was in the vicinity. It did not take long and the prophet appeared regularly for his meals at the couple’s place. No one seemed to mind, not even the Baalists, that Elisha was a regular guest at one of their people’s homes.
The lady felt that she should do more for Elisha. She discussed it with her husband and they decided to add a room on the flat roof of their house for the prophet to stay. Elisha accepted their offer graciously and he too began to think how he could reward her for her kindness. Elisha was very peculiar. He felt so holy that he did not dare to converse with people (particularly women) for fear he might lose his gift of performing miracles. To avoid contact, even with kind and generous people like the Shunammite, he had his servant Gehazi do the talking. Here is an example, “Call the Shunammite. So Gehazi called her and she stood at the door before him. Elisha said to him, tell her, you have gone to all this trouble for us. Now, what can we do for you?” Gehazi had to find out about the couple and learned that they had no children and that the husband was past the age of fathering. Again he told Gehazi to call her and when she stood in the doorway, he broke his tradition and spoke directly to her, “About this time next year, you will hold a son in your arms.”
Elisha’s promise took the lady off guard. She objected begging, “Do not mislead your servant, O man of God!” A year later, the Shunammite gave birth to a son and the child kept growing. When the lad was old enough, to go and be with his father during harvest time in the field, he developed a severe headache and collapsed. A harvester carried him home to his mother and he died in her lap. She took his body to the room of the prophet and laid his lifeless body on his bed and closed the door behind her. She requested that her husband provide her with a donkey and a servant to go to Elisha hurriedly. Her husband objected, for part of her travel would be on the Sabbath. Sabbath or no Sabbath, she had to get to the man of God. Elisha saw her coming and sent Gehazi to intercept her. She lied that all was well so she could fall at the prophet’s feet and embrace them. Gehazi tried to push her away, but Elisha allowed her to touch him. Immediately, the lady accused him of giving her false hope, and that she would not leave Elisha until he made things right. The prophet dispatched his servant with his staff and told him to lay it on the boy’s face. Nothing happened and Elisha had to go to the boy and lay on him to warm the little body and life returned. Gehazi called the mother and Elisha told her, “Take your son.” She did. The impossible had happened!
It was an unusual incident. We modernized skeptics may assign the event to Bible days. A month ago my cousin’s daughter was preparing lunch for her grandfather. She had a stroke that froze her right arm and hand, her face on the left dropped and her voice was gone. She could not cry out for help. Only in her mind she prayed, “Lord help me.” Instantly, her functions were restored. She was taken to the hospital and examined thoroughly and there was no doubt that she had a stroke. The young lady is 34 and now credits God for helping her. I, too, faced death four times that I know of. The last time was 15 years ago. I have no doubt that God had placed people in my life that did not let me die. Very much like Elisha was needed in the life of the Shunammite, so those that helped me were in mine. Perhaps, you and I could be instruments in someone’s life that is wrestling with death or with some other insurmountable problem?
God has not changed. Man has become unwilling to allow God into his or her life. When things happen that are not to our liking, we panic and give up. We bury ourselves prematurely. The Shunammite did not plan a funeral service for her child. No, she went to the man of God to get her son back. She persisted in her request and God responded via Elisha. My mother was ardent about depending on God. She was also young and naïve. I was her first baby and restless. To silence me, she fed me poppy seed and I would not wake up. She wrestled with God and firmly believed that God gave me back to her. That was 81 years past and since then God has spared me many times. Our Lord Jesus assured us by saying, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God” (Mk.10: 27). He also encouraged a father, whose child was presumed dead, “Do not be afraid just believe” (Mk.5: 36). God still makes things possible!