BLESSINGS FROM HEAVEN
To receive this weekly devotional and other content for your spiritual renewal, subscribe to our new Renew Newsletter.
Memory Verse: 1 John 3:18
Further Study: 2 Kings 4; Prophets and Kings, 237-243; The Bible Story, vol. 5, pp. 66-78; 98-100
In the early days of my career, I was an x-ray technologist. We had all kinds of patients, but probably the most difficult were children, the really young ones. Often a child, anywhere from 8-18 months, would be brought in for a chest x-ray. I don’t know if this is used now, but back then we had a vertical plastic contraption that didn’t hurt the child but held them upright with their arms above their heads in order to get an x-ray of their chest.
We would take the child from their parents, bring them back to the room, place them in this device, take the pictures, and return the child. What always amazed me were the children who didn’t cry as one would expect. They put on a brave face in spite of the circumstances and were amazing through it all. We, of course, loved these courageous little souls, and would go joyfully to return them to their parents. One hundred percent of the time, as they neared where their parents were, they would burst into tears making it appear as if they’d cried the entire time.
As they neared where their parents were, they would burst into tears making it appear as if they’d cried the entire time.
Scripture tells us to be thankful in all things (1 Thess. 5:18). I’d like to suggest that to be thankful in all things leads to another place—contentment (Phil. 4:11). Here is where we find the Shunammite woman. She had discovered gratitude and satisfaction. Wealthy, but childless, she found happiness in doing for others, which included Elisha. We know she was content because she essentially tells him (2 Kings 4:11, 12). “It is well.”
Elisha turned her world upside down by promising her a son. Now the Shunammite woman found joy, thankfulness, and contentment in her new role as a mother. “It is well.”
The Shunammite woman found joy, thankfulness, and contentment in her new role as a mother. “It is well.”
Until it wasn’t. The child died suddenly in her arms. We would expect an explosion of grief and despair, but there is no evidence of such. Instead, like those infants thrust into an unknown experience, she was brave.
“It is well,” she told her husband (v. 23).
“It is well,” she told Elisha’s servant (v. 26).
But when she saw the prophet, she threw herself at his feet in despair, and we see the grief we expected all along.
When we find our strength in Jesus, we discover a new level of courage. We find a place of gratitude. We find a place of trust. We experience a measure of faith. We bravely shoulder on in a world that isn’t always kind or supportive. But when Jesus meets us in our despair, like those babies in the x-ray department, we fall weeping into His loving arms of protection. There we find safety; there we can completely let go. We cry; we flail; we protest. We are still grateful, trusting, and faithful, but in His arms we find security and hope.
We are still grateful, trusting, and faithful, but in His arms we find security and hope.
It’s this encounter, when the arms of our heavenly Parent tighten around us, we hear a whisper, “It is well.” Not from our own lips, but God’s. “It is well.” He holds us close, and the still small voice lingers. It will be OK. What is lost will be restored; if not now, soon, in His time.
It is well. Be renewed.
If you read 1 Kings 4, you may find it sounding strangely familiar. There are not only echoes to the past (Elijah’s experience), but reverberations to the future.
Note the first story of the Widow’s oil. It is very similar to what Elijah did for the Widow of Zarephath. The Shunammite’s son is brought back to life by Elisha, while the son of the Widow of Zarephath was brought back to life by Elijah.
Later we find Elisha cleansing a pot of stew and feeding a hundred people from 20 loaves of bread. In fact, where Elijah is a type of John the Baptist, preparing a people for Christ; Elisha is a type of Jesus. His ministry was to follow up on Elijah’s preparation by teaching, traveling to the schools of the prophets, performing miracles, and sharing God with the people.
Making it Real
Probably the song that first comes to mind relating to this devotion is “When Peace Like a River” (No. 530 in the Seventh-day Adventist Hymnal). Look up this hymn and read the lyrics for worship. On a different day this week, read the story behind why Horatio Spafford wrote the hymn (https://www.thetabernaclechoir.org/articles/it-is-well-with-my-soul.html). Then on yet another day, sing the hymn.
Discuss: How were Horatio Spafford and the Shunamite woman similar in how they related to their tragedy. What was different?
Merle Poirier writes from Silver Spring, Maryland, where she works as the operation manager for Adventist Review and Adventist World magazines as well as the designer for KidsView, a magazine for 8-12-year-olds. She enjoys spending time with her family including being the grandmother of two active little boys, who greatly enjoy Starting With Jesus.