The Shunammite Woman [Part 2]
By — September 18, 2017
Are you ready for some good news?
You don’t have to run from your deepest desires; you can take them to God.
Today’s Text: “And he said, “What then is to be done for her?” Gehazi answered, “Well, she has no son, and her husband is old.” He said, “Call her.” And when he had called her, she stood in the doorway. And he said, “At this season, about this time next year, you shall embrace a son.” And she said, “No, my lord, O man of God; do not lie to your servant.” But the woman conceived, and she bore a son about that time the following spring, as Elisha had said to her.” (2 Kings 4:14–17, ESV)
When Elisha wanted to do something for the Shunammite woman who consistently showed him hospitality on his visits, the healthy, prosperous woman expressed no need. Surely, Elisha mused with his servant, there must be something that can be done for this thoughtful, generous woman. Elisha’s servant informed the prophet that the woman had no son. Elisha must have received a word instantly from the Lord. He boldly declared to the woman of Shunem: “About this time next year, you shall embrace a son.”
The Shunammite woman’s response told it all: “Do not lie to your servant.”
Here’s how her heart ached: Don’t you dare touch upon my deepest dream! Don’t you dare arouse my hope for a son. Don’t play with my emotions. I have long let go of that dream; don’t be cruel and bring it back to the surface.
There is a philosophical approach to life that asserts: Don’t get your hopes up and then you’ll never be disappointed. Carried to its more sophisticated depths, it becomes like some Eastern religions. If desire can be extinguished then suffering can be eradicated. Since suffering is the result of unmet desires, the key to tranquility is to lose all desire.
Of course, it is healthy to live realistically. There is a form of desire that is mere fantasy. But, on the whole, the Biblical worldview does not call us to extinguish our longings. In fact, in many ways, the scriptures beckon us to magnify our desires. Seek and you shall find. Knock and the door shall be opened. We have a God who delights in giving us the desires of our hearts (Psalm 37:4).
The Lord wasn’t about to rouse the Shunammite woman’s deepest, dormant desire only to dash her hopes once again. Through the prophet, the Lord reignited the woman’s deepest longing and then fulfilled it.
Those who yearn deeply will be disappointed deeply if their longing lingers unfulfilled. But it is better to yearn painfully than it is to lose hope. Those who love deeply will inevitably grieve deeply. But it is better to love than to isolate one’s heart. God won’t needlessly or recklessly rouse your longings only to dash them. But He won’t idly allow you to lose your dreams either. You can trust Him. And that’s the Gospel!