When I think of women in the Bible who demonstrated extraordinary faith, the Shunammite woman is at the top of my list. The Bible does not tell us her name, just calls her a great woman. There are many reasons she was a great woman, but one of the greatest no doubt was her amazing faith in time of heartache.
We read Bible stories too swiftly. We already know what’s going to happen so we just skim along not stopping to imagine how Bible characters must have felt during times of harsh trials and testings.
The Shunammite woman inspired her husband to build a little chamber for Elisha to use for rest and refreshment while traveling around serving the Lord. Elisha wanted to reward her for her kindness. I love her answer when he asked, “What is to be done for thee?” She answered, “I dwell among mine own people.” She was content and sought no recognition or reward. So Elisha rewarded her with God allowing her to become a mother.
Years passed and one day her son became ill. Like many fathers his dad said, “Carry him to his mother!” His mom cared for him as best she could, but by noon he was dead. I am amazed at how the Shunammite woman reacted to this heartache. Her only child, no doubt the joy of her existence, had just passed away. Instead of weeping and wailing, accusing her husband of not taking better care of him, or railing against God who did not stop the tragedy from occurring, she sprung into action.
She did not even tell her husband what was going on. She just told him she was going to visit the man of God. I love, love, love her answer when he asked why. She responded, “It shall be well.” (2 Kings 4:23) She trusted that everything was going to be all right. We already know that her son is going to be raised from the dead. We know the story has a happy ending, but she did not know that when she replied by faith. She trusted God with the outcome long before she knew what that outcome would be. Great was her faith!
When Elisha saw her coming afar off, he sent his servant to ask her how the family was. Again the Shunammite woman replied with great faith, “It is well.” (2 Kings 4:26) How could she say that? Her only child was lying cold and lifeless on a bed back home. She did not know if the man of God could or would be able to change her sad circumstances, but she chose to trust God when there was no earthly reason to do so, when she was experiencing the greatest heartache any mother can ever experience. Great was the faith of this great woman!
After Elisha found out her concern, he sent his servant to check on the child. That was not good enough for this mother. She exclaimed, “As the Lord liveth, and as thy soul liveth, I will not leave thee.” (2 Kings 4:30) So Elisha got up and went with her. This great woman did not give up until she received the answer she sought. Again I say great was the faith of this great woman!
Years ago this story was a personal blessing and encouragement to my soul. I was pregnant with Joshua in Mexico and going a Christian doctor in Arizona who had helped me in earlier pregnancies. To save money I had some blood work done at a Mexican laboratory and took the results to the doctor’s office in Arizona. After viewing the test, the nurse practitioner said with no compassion whatsoever, “The results show there is something wrong with your baby. Your baby has downs. You need to have an ultrasound.”
With sadness and fear I went to have the ultrasound. As we waited for the official results, I thought of the Shunammite woman and her great faith that enabled her to say, “It shall be well,” when she had no idea what the outcome would be. “It shall be well,” I whispered with tears and tried to trust the Lord. Some hours later we received the glad news that the original test results were incorrect, and there was nothing wrong with our baby. It was well–and it would also have been well if God had chosen for our baby to have downs syndrome. God makes no mistakes. His will is good, acceptable and perfect.
There are many times in life when we face great trials and heartache. We have no idea if God will give us the happily ever after we long for or permit us to go through much suffering. May we have faith like the Shunammite woman and say no matter what our present circumstances, “It shall be well.”