What Rules You? Fear or Faith?
Have you ever noticed some people speak faith and others declare doubt? Have you ever seen some people continually have an attitude and speech of ”woe is me,” while others always seem joyful and live abundantly? There are two spiritual forces in the world–God and Satan. When we speak doubt we give authority to Satan. The opposite of doubt is faith. There are only two types of spiritual energy, doubt and faith. We speak what we dwell upon, and we either release doubt or faith—there is nothing in between. We release spiritual energy in one direction or the other. Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks (Mark 12:34).
Jesus was clear in the gospels that if we have faith as the grain of a mustard seed we can move mountains. Where there is faith, the Lord can heal. If there is doubt and lack of faith, miracles will not happen. The French have a saying, “Miracles happen to those who believe in them.”
There are many places in Scripture where we see faith operational, but few are as spectacular as the story of Elisha and the Shunammite woman in 2 Kings 4:1-37. Elisha was a disciple of Elijah, and Elijah’s mantle has now fallen on Elisha as a member of the “company of prophets” who would have double the miracles of Elijah. It is a profound story of faith and works.
There is a woman who once had means and has fallen on hard times. Her husband was also a member of “the company of prophets,” and they are now old and childless. When Elisha passed through her town, she and her husband would offer hospitality with a spare room and provisions to Elisha, and his servant Gehazi. She tells her husband, “Look, I am sure the man who is constantly passing our way must be a holy man of God” (10). Elisha is appreciative of their help and asks what he can now do for her. Elisha then asks what she wants and he instinctively knows without her saying it she wants a child. She responds, “No, my lord, O man of God, do not lie to your servant.” Elisha then says, “This time next year you will hold a son in your arms” (15, 16).
The son is growing and one day in the fields he has some sort of a head ailment with no explanation of the trauma. The sick son is carried to the mother by a servant, and by midday the son is dead. The Shunammite woman (mother) then retreats to the bedroom where Elisha used to stay and briefly laments the death of her son. She then boldly tells a servant to saddle a donkey and she and her servant go to meet Elisha. She instructs the servant, “Lead on, go, do not draw rein until I give the order” (24, 25).
As she meets Elisha’s servant Gehazi, he asks her, “Are you well, is your husband well, is your child well?” (26, 27). She answers, “Yes, all is well” (26). The woman and her dead son are then taken to meet Elisha at Mount Carmel. Here is a woman who is promised a son, she conceives and feels as if she has been deceived by Elisha as the child has now been taken away from her for a reason she doesn’t understand. She has traveled some distance on a donkey to meet Elisha fact to face. Elisha tells Gehazi, “She has bitterness in her soul” and in essence she is so angry she is reading Elisha the Shunammitess version of a riot act saying, “Did I ask my Lord for a son, did I not say do not deceive me” (28). She feels she has been short-changed and lied to by Elisha —- and she is distraught. It would be a normal human emotion.
Elisha and Gehazi travel to the home where the dead boy lay. “He went and shut the door on the two of them and prayed to Yahweh. Then he climbs onto the bed where the boy is and stretches himself on top of the child, putting his mouth on his mouth, his eyes to his eyes, and his hands on his hands, and as he lowered himself onto him, the child’s flesh grew warm. Then he got up and walked to and fro inside the house, and then climbed onto the bed again, and lowered himself onto the child seven times in all: then the child sneezed and opened his eyes. When she came to him, he said, take up your son. She went in and falling at his feet, bowed down to the ground; and taking up her son went out” (31-37).
The story continues with the fidelity of Elisha to her family. In 2 Kings 8:1-6, Elisha tells the woman “To move away because a famine is coming to the land for seven years.” She moves away, and the famine came and “her family was spared.” She then had to “Lodge a claim of ownership of the house and land with the king upon her return.” The king hearing the story of the woman of Shunem was so impressed “He restored the land to her, and all the revenue from her land from the day she left the country until now.” God is faithful to His servants beyond their expectations.
This by all accounts is one of the great stories of Scripture. Elisha was a disciple of Elijah and received the double anointing of Elijah’s blessing, as he too was a member of “the company of prophets.” In the book of Acts, St. Paul raised a young boy by the name of Eutychus from the dead after he fell out of a window because St. Paul delivered a teaching that “went on and on speaking all night.” The boy was restored to life by St. Paul much in the same way Elisha raised the boy of Shunem to life by “clasping him to his body” (Acts 20 :9).
The lessons of the Patriarchs of the Bible are eternal and they are for today and those who believe. They apply today as they did then “as Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). Times for many are difficult and we will have to rely on faith that the Lord will prevail if we remain faithful. If we remain faithful to the Lord, the Lord will remain faithful to us. The rules of faith haven’t changed from the days of Elisha to today. If we have the faith the size of a mustard seed, we can say to that mountain be cast into the sea.
As the Shunammite woman was asked by the servant of Elisha in the presence of her dead son, “is all well,” she answered, “Yes — All is well.” There are very few people who would have the faith to give such an answer in the presence of their dead child.
According to your faith so be it unto you. We all could get a stronger dose of the woman with no name from Shunem.
The anxiety and pain in the world is palpable. People know in their gut a spark from any direction can cause an uncontrollable world-wide conflagration that in an instant could alter our way of life. However, we must realize the Lord is in control—He sees all, and He knows all. Fear is the chief activator of our faults. Everything passes through the Lord’s permissive Will. In the midst of a crisis we need to maintain the internal fortitude of the Shunammite woman.
“Yes, all is well.”
Jesus, I Trust In You