Hello My Name Is … (Week 6) – Shunamite Woman
Happy Sunday everyone! This week we have carried on our look at the story of the Shunamite woman, and its been a very raw week. This was the verse we were meditating on:
“Then Elisha said, “Call her.” So he called her, and she stood in the doorway. “About this time next year,” Elisha said, “you will hold a son in your arms.” “No, my LORD!” she objected. “Please, man of God, don’t mislead your servant!” 2 Kings 4:15-16
After reading this passage initially I was overcome with the feeling of hopelessness that this woman felt in regards to her fertility. So many of the amazing mums in our group shared storied of similar hopelessness, where they were still waiting on healing, children, or other things to come to fruition, and that the longer they waited the less hope they had. They also talked about how when other Christians come in and make false promises, platitudes or give false hope, that it just makes it so much harder. It makes the pain that little bit deeper. Something that perhaps you had once made peace with it brought to light again and the wound reopened. It is a terrible situation this woman is found in. And in the previous verse she asks for nothing in return for her hospitality to Elisha. It seems particularly cruel that he should come up with what he thinks is a “helpful” plan, when actually from her side it is one that reopens this wound of fertility. She is woman who has lost all hope of having a child.
When I played the woman’s words over in my head this week, along with the sadness and lack of hope, there was also a tinge of optimism in there, in the tone of the words perhaps (might just be me!!). That she kind of wants the man of God to disagree with her and tell her that what he is saying is true, but she’s also scared of that reality. I think this is because of the source of the words, not the words themselves. If it was anyone else then they would be shut down completely, but because these words come from “the man of God” whom she respects and admires, and knows to be a prophet, they hold more weight.
Let us take wisdom from this, that we should be careful who’s words we take seriously. When the message TRULY comes from God, then we can take hope it in. God does not fail on his promises to us. But when it comes from people ,even people with the best intentions, we need to be careful and not fall for false hope. That is what will lead us to pain.
Hospitality filled the gap
Finally, my thoughts went back to last week’s verse and the outrageous hospitality that this woman lavished on Elisha (and I’m sure others too). It got me thinking – was she doing that to plug the gap where she thought a child should be? To make her days full with the sounds of other people in her house? To give her a purpose for the wealth that she had, so it wasn’t just wasted at the end of her life? Or was she desperate to love others in the midst of her pain, letting nothing stop her heart for looking after people? I’m not sure, and it probably doesn’t really matter, but sometimes the circumstances in our lives give us reason to find other routes or ministries that we wouldn’t normally have looked at. Maybe without the pain of not having children, this woman wouldn’t have opened up her home to others and loved them like she did, her story wouldn’t be here in the bible to push us and inspire us to be more outrageous with our hospitality, and so the pain moved her to be incredible in that area. Maybe your pain and hopelessness will push you to something that you wouldn’t have looked at otherwise too.
The story moves forward again next week, as we jump into a time when the woman has seen God come through on this promise and she finally has her son. I hope you’ll join me in meditating on the following verse:
“After the servant had lifted him up and carried him to his mother, the boy sat on her lap until noon, and then he died. She went up and laid him on the bed of the man of God, then shut the door and went out.” 2 Kings 4:20-21
I’ll be back in the Facebook Group for a live discussion on Monday night at 9pm, please do set your alarms to join me then!