Tuesday, September 14, 2010

It Is Well

I want to share with you an amazing story about a unique woman.  Her story is found in the bible, in 1 Kings, chapter 4, verses 8-37, NCV:


One day Elisha went to the town of Shunem. A wealthy woman lived there, and she urged him to come to her home for a meal. After that, whenever he passed that way, he would stop there for something to eat.  9 She said to her husband, “I am sure this man who stops in from time to time is a holy man of God. 10 Let’s build a small room for him on the roof and furnish it with a bed, a table, a chair, and a lamp. Then he will have a place to stay whenever he comes by.”  11 One day Elisha returned to Shunem, and he went up to this upper room to rest. 12 He said to his servant Gehazi, “Tell the woman from Shunem I want to speak to her.” When she appeared, 13 Elisha said to Gehazi, “Tell her, ‘We appreciate the kind concern you have shown us. What can we do for you? Can we put in a good word for you to the king or to the commander of the army?’”    “No,” she replied, “my family takes good care of me.”  14 Later Elisha asked Gehazi, “What can we do for her?” Gehazi replied, “She doesn’t have a son, and her husband is an old man.”  15 “Call her back again,” Elisha told him. When the woman returned, Elisha said to her as she stood in the doorway, 16 “Next year at this time you will be holding a son in your arms!”  “No, my lord!” she cried. “O man of God, don’t deceive me and get my hopes up like that.”  17 But sure enough, the woman soon became pregnant. And at that time the following year she had a son, just as Elisha had said.  18 One day when her child was older, he went out to help his father, who was working with the harvesters. 19 Suddenly he cried out, “My head hurts! My head hurts!”  His father said to one of the servants, “Carry him home to his mother.”  20 So the servant took him home, and his mother held him on her lap. But around noontime he died. 21 She carried him up and laid him on the bed of the man of God, then shut the door and left him there. 22 She sent a message to her husband: “Send one of the servants and a donkey so that I can hurry to the man of God and come right back.”  23 “Why go today?” he asked. “It is neither a new moon festival nor a Sabbath.”   But she said, “It will be all right.”  24 So she saddled the donkey and said to the servant, “Hurry! Don’t slow down unless I tell you to.”   25 As she approached the man of God at Mount Carmel, Elisha saw her in the distance. He said to Gehazi, “Look, the woman from Shunem is coming. 26 Run out to meet her and ask her, ‘Is everything all right with you, your husband, and your child?’” “Yes,” the woman told Gehazi, “everything is fine.”  27 But when she came to the man of God at the mountain, she fell to the ground before him and caught hold of his feet. Gehazi began to push her away, but the man of God said, “Leave her alone. She is deeply troubled, but the Lord has not told me what it is.”  28 Then she said, “Did I ask you for a son, my lord? And didn’t I say, ‘Don’t deceive me and get my hopes up’?”  29 Then Elisha said to Gehazi, “Get ready to travel; take my staff and go! Don’t talk to anyone along the way. Go quickly and lay the staff on the child’s face.”  30 But the boy’s mother said, “As surely as the Lord lives and you yourself live, I won’t go home unless you go with me.” So Elisha returned with her.  31 Gehazi hurried on ahead and laid the staff on the child’s face, but nothing happened. There was no sign of life. He returned to meet Elisha and told him, “The child is still dead.”  32 When Elisha arrived, the child was indeed dead, lying there on the prophet’s bed. 33 He went in alone and shut the door behind him and prayed to the Lord. 34 Then he lay down on the child’s body, placing his mouth on the child’s mouth, his eyes on the child’s eyes, and his hands on the child’s hands. And as he stretched out on him, the child’s body began to grow warm again! 35 Elisha got up, walked back and forth across the room once, and then stretched himself out again on the child. This time the boy sneezed seven times and opened his eyes!  36 Then Elisha summoned Gehazi. “Call the child’s mother!” he said. And when she came in, Elisha said, “Here, take your son!” 37 She fell at his feet and bowed before him, overwhelmed with gratitude. Then she took her son in her arms and carried him downstairs.
What a story! There are several things about the Shunemite woman that stands out to me. 


1.  She gave to the Lord without expecting anything in return.
She didn’t have any ulterior motive, she just wanted to bless the Man of God, first when she invited him to dinner, and later on when she made a room for him to stay in whenever he was in the area. When Elisha told her that God would give her a child in a year’s time, she said “don’t get my hopes up.”  She hadn’t even been hoping for a child.

2.  She was content with what she had. When Elisha asked what they could do for her, she said “my family takes good care of me.”

3.  When tragedy struck, she did two things.
1)    She immediately went to God (in those days, they went to the priest or prophet, but praise God we live in the dispensation of grace that we can call on God anytime we need to.) …Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. Hebrews 4:16
2)    She said nothing negative, but spoke in faith. (This is the crux of what I feel God has for us in this message.) “It will be all right,” she said to her husband.  Most of us would have immediately dumped everything on our husbands! We’d be whining “this is not fair” or “how could God let this happen?”
a.                  She had another chance to tell her troubles to Gehazi but again she said everything is fine.  When we get with our friends, it is so tempting to tell them everything that’s wrong!  I’m not saying it’s a bad thing to talk to our friends, it’s good to vent sometimes, but we must be careful to speak in faith.
b.                  It is so important to be careful what we say – especially in times of stress.  I heard Joyce Meyer say more than once “Words are containers for power”  Our words can be spoken in faith and trust in God, KNOWING that He will not put more on us than we can bear, or we can be sowing words to defeat us.  Here are some things the bible has to say about the words we speak:

"May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer "- Psalm 19:4

… "you have been trapped by what you said, ensnared by the words of your mouth," Proverbs 6:2

"When words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise." Proverbs 10:19 [If we spout off the minute something happens- our words may end up being sinful – accusatory, hateful, even blasphemous]

"Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing. Proverbs 12:18

"From the fruit of his lips a man enjoys good things, but the unfaithful have a craving for violence. He who guards his lips guards his life, but he who speaks rashly will come to ruin."  Proverbs 13:2-3

"Do you see a man who speaks in haste? There is more hope for a fool than for him." Proverbs 29:20

Back to our story:  "But when she came to the man of God at the mountain, she fell to the ground before him and caught hold of his feet. Gehazi began to push her away, but the man of God said, “Leave her alone."

     4.  She held on tightly to God. How often when tragedy strikes instead of drawing as near to God as we can get, we back off.  Ever notice when someone used to sit near the front at church, was at the altar all the time, in the thick of things, then when they get offended or hurt, they’re in the back row. (No offense to those of you that sit in the back ALL the time.)  They’re sitting in the back because they are almost out the door!     
                                                                               
      Did you notice that Gehazi (a believer) tried to push her away?  Sometimes, well-meaning people, maybe one of your brothers or sisters in Christ, might try to dissuade you from standing in faith for something.  They might think that they are doing it in your best interest – trying to keep you from being hurt if God says no.  Don’t let ANYONE keep you from hanging on to God!   She determined that no matter what, she was going to stick close to God:  But the boy’s mother said, “As surely as the Lord lives and you yourself live, I won’t go home unless you go with me.”
   

5. 
She didn’t get her answer right away.  Elisha had to pray for the boy twice before he came back to life.  What if everyone had given up after the first unsuccessful attempt?

   
    Hundreds of years later, the story is told of another one that faced death and tragedy and spoke the words “It Is Well”
   

    Horatio Spafford lost his children when a ship was sunk at sea. All four of his daughters drowned.  His wife was rescued, and he traveled by ship to bring her home.  It is said that as he passed the spot where his daughters drowned, he went down into his cabin and penned the words of that great hymn, "It Is Well."

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
"It is well, it is well with my soul."
It is well with my soul
It is well, it is well with my soul.

Thou Satan should buffet, tho' trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.
It is well with my soul
It is well, it is well with my soul.

My sin... O, the bliss of this glorious thought,
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!
It is well with my soul
It is well, it is well with my soul.


 
And Lord, haste the day when the faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll,
The trump shall resound and the Lord shall descend,
"Even so" - it is well with my soul.
It is well with my soul
It is well, it is well with my soul.




If you truly believe that God will work everything for your good, you will be able to say, at some point in your life, "It is well."

5 comments:

Jane said...

Excellent! As long as I've been a Christian, I don't remember reading this in the Bible before. Thanks!

Jane

Karen said...

Amen! Awesome study, Jerri...loved how you ended with that blessed hymn...

Bernadine said...

Great thoughts. It leaves me with much to think about.

Marg said...

This has really spoken volumes to me...Thanks Jerri. It's good to get back and have some tome to meditate and blog again eh? I thought that maybe I was the only one out of the loop. We've had some real family crsis this summer and I'm just trying to keep my head above...so it is...we need to keep standing on God's promises, not slouching in the back row because of shame....

Marg said...

This has really spoken volumes to me...Thanks Jerri. It's good to get back and have some tome to meditate and blog again eh? I thought that maybe I was the only one out of the loop. We've had some real family crisis this summer and I'm just trying to keep my head above...so it is...we need to keep standing on God's promises, not slouching in the back row because of shame....