Keeping the Faith

October 31, 2014 No Comments »
Keeping the Faith

From Joan:

I like to think that I am a woman of faith. I have a strong belief that God exists and that we can have a close personal relationship with Him. I try to be pleasing to Him in all that I do. This conviction is always at the forefront of my thoughts, and has become the driving force behind all my actions. Nevertheless, in certain situations, I somehow seem to manage to fail to exemplify God. Usually, this happens when my faith is low. My remedy for lackluster faith is to turn to the Word of God, which unfailingly builds me back up.

One of the Bible stories I regularly revisit when I need a faith booster is from 2 Kings 4, about the prophet Elisha and the Shunammite woman. My focus today is on the Shunammite woman, who, in my opinion, although she is a minor Biblical character, has a level of faith in God to be admired (and emulated). But, before I get into the core of the story, I must mention my high regard for Elisha, a prophet who worked enormous miracles such as raising a person from the dead and curing leprosy. Elisha was an incredible man of God, and I love to read about Him!

But, let’s get back to my story. Elisha regularly visited the town in which the Shunammite woman lived. This wealthy woman recognized that Elisha was a holy man. Wanting to help the man of God, she prepared a room for Elisha in her home where he could stay whenever he was in town. It was apparent from the beginning of this Bible passage, that the woman from Shunam was a person who served God by using her resources to help others. She required nothing in return for her benevolence.

Elisha was grateful for the woman’s kindness and wanted to return her generosity. As Elisha contemplated what he could do for her, his servant, Gehazi, mentioned that the woman had no son and that her husband was old. Elisha then prophesied that she would have a son within a year. This prophesy came true, and the Shunam woman conceived and had a son a year later. mary cassatt mom and child

Many years later, the child died. The woman laid her son on the bed in Elisha’s room, and, without hesitation, went to find Elisha to get his help. As she left her home, her husband asked her if all was well with their child. She replied that all was well. It’s at this point in the story that I always take a moment to mull this over in my mind. I wonder what she was thinking.

Here is a woman who, after many childless years, miraculously has a son. He certainly must have been very precious to her. It’s hard to imagine how she remained calm in the midst of this incredible calamity.  Yet, when this crisis occurred, her first instinct was to turn to God for help through His appointed holy prophet. Now, that is faith in action.

As the woman approached Elisha’s home, he perceived her distress. She cried out to him, “Why did you pray for me to have a son if he was only going to be taken from me in death?” With great compassion, Elisha followed her back to her home to see how God might remedy the dilemma.  Upon seeing that the son was indeed dead, Elisha prayed to God, who gave him instructions about how to revive the young man. Amazingly, the son was raised from the dead!

Understandably, the Shunammite woman was eternally grateful to be reunited with her beloved son, as she fell prostrate to the ground in gratitude. Reading these words, I can almost feel the woman’s emotion at seeing her son live again. It is so incredibly moving, and it came about because she sought after God, believing He would help her.

Can you see why I love this story? It awes, yet, inspires me. It demonstrates faith in action, and the miracles that follow. We learn of a woman who, when faced with the worst tragedy in her life, instinctively reached out to God believing that He would help her. How else could she have remained composed in these circumstances? She did not fall into despair, but, instead, sought God’s help, all the while believing that He would not let her down. God met this woman of faith by enacting the miracle of resurrecting her son.

Now, I can’t promise that if we step out in faith, we will always receive a miracle of the caliber of resurrection. But, I do know that God rewards those who seek Him in faith. Therefore, we can always expect for God to help, especially when faith becomes active. This is why, like the Shunammite woman, I aspire to be a woman of faith. I want and need God to be operational in my life, in all His loving, dynamic ways. How about you?

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