A Daily Dose of Good News
Monday, February 8, 2021
After 10:30am today, this devotional will be offered online at https://youtu.be/ZoiJ75hZznQ
A printer-friendly version of today’s devotion is available at DDGN 20210208
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Good morning! It’s time for our Daily Dose of Good News! It’s February 8 and we’re reading from 2 Kings 4. It’s a story you don’t hear often, but it’s a really intriguing one. We’re going to start at verse 8. You’re going to hear about three or four characters. Elisha- with an s- I know you’re used to also hearing about Elijah, but this is Elisha, who would have been the follower of Elijah. So, Elisha, his servant, Gehazi- who basically works as a translator, the Shunamite woman and you hear a little bit about her husband…
One day Elisha was passing through Shunem, where a wealthy woman lived, who urged him to have a meal. So whenever he passed that way, he would stop there for a meal. She said to her husband, “Look, I am sure that this man who regularly passes our way is a holy man of God. Let us make a small roof chamber with walls, and put there for him a bed, a table, a chair, and a lamp, so that he can stay there whenever he comes to us.”
One day when he came there, he went up to the chamber and lay down there. He said to his servant Gehazi, “Call the Shunammite woman.” When he had called her, she stood before him. He said to him, “Say to her, Since you have taken all this trouble for us, what may be done for you? Would you have a word spoken on your behalf to the king or to the commander of the army?” She answered, “I live among my own people.” He said, “What then may be done for her?” Gehazi answered, “Well, she has no son, and her husband is old.” He said, “Call her.” When he had called her, she stood at the door. He said, “At this season, in due time, you shall embrace a son.” She replied, “No, my lord, O man of God; do not deceive your servant.”
The woman conceived and bore a son at that season, in due time, as Elisha had declared to her.
When the child was older, he went out one day to his father among the reapers. He complained to his father, “Oh, my head, my head!” The father said to his servant, “Carry him to his mother.” He carried him and brought him to his mother; the child sat on her lap until noon, and he died. She went up and laid him on the bed of the man of God, closed the door on him, and left. Then she called to her husband, and said, “Send me one of the servants and one of the donkeys, so that I may quickly go to the man of God and come back again.” He said, “Why go to him today? It is neither new moon nor sabbath.” She said, “It will be all right.” Then she saddled the donkey and said to her servant, “Urge the animal on; do not hold back for me unless I tell you.” So she set out, and came to the man of God at Mount Carmel.
When the man of God saw her coming, he said to Gehazi his servant, “Look, there is the Shunammite woman; run at once to meet her, and say to her, Are you all right? Is your husband all right? Is the child all right?” She answered, “It is all right.” When she came to the man of God at the mountain, she caught hold of his feet. Gehazi approached to push her away. But the man of God said, “Let her alone, for she is in bitter distress; the Lord has hidden it from me and has not told me.” Then she said, “Did I ask my lord for a son? Did I not say, Do not mislead me?” He said to Gehazi, “Gird up your loins, and take my staff in your hand, and go. If you meet anyone, give no greeting, and if anyone greets you, do not answer; and lay my staff on the face of the child.” Then the mother of the child said, “As the Lord lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave without you.” So he rose up and followed her. Gehazi went on ahead and laid the staff on the face of the child, but there was no sound or sign of life. He came back to meet him and told him, “The child has not awakened.”
When Elisha came into the house, he saw the child lying dead on his bed. So he went in and closed the door on the two of them, and prayed to the Lord. Then he got up on the bed and lay upon the child, putting his mouth upon his mouth, his eyes upon his eyes, and his hands upon his hands; and while he lay bent over him, the flesh of the child became warm. He got down, walked once to and fro in the room, then got up again and bent over him; the child sneezed seven times, and the child opened his eyes. Elisha summoned Gehazi and said, “Call the Shunammite woman.” So he called her. When she came to him, he said, “Take your son.” She came and fell at his feet, bowing to the ground; then she took her son and left.
Here ends the reading.
And it is a powerful, dramatic story. This Shunammite woman gives us a couple of examples which are wonderful for us to explore further. First of all, her hospitality was extraordinary. She determines this is a man of God and basically builds a house addition on, so that she can stay there with them whenever he passes through the area. And while the Middle East is known for hospitality, this is certainly above and beyond the call- to build a room for someone with a table, bed, lamp and chair, for him to be able to rest whenever he comes. So she very intentionally seeks community with a Man of God. She doesn’t stay isolated, as in the wallpaper behind me, fragmented and apart. But she seeks connection, and she has that with Elisha. Elisha returns the relationship. Elisha stays there with her, blesses her by requesting a child for her from God, and suddenly when this child dies, the Shunammite woman again, runs to community. She does not stay isolated in her pain. But she runs to the Man of God, in that, she runs to God. I want you to note how active she is. This is not a passive woman. She’s already had an addition build on her house for someone. When her child dies, she calls her husband and says ‘send me a servant and send me a donkey- I’m going to the Man of God’. The husband says, ‘Why are you going today? It’s not even a holy day’. But she heads out, she saddles her own donkey. She says to the servant with her: ‘don’t hold back on the donkey- we’re going as fast as we can, to the man of God, full throttle’. OK? She’s hustling and hastening to get there. When she comes and sees Elisha, Elisha immediately sees her, responds, and also is active. Immediately, he sends his servant to find out if she’s all right, if her family is all right. When she comes and grabs his feet, he immediately sends his servant because that’s the fastest way to get to the child, and then he comes behind with the Shunammite woman. So, there is action throughout this.
In that, I would encourage our action today, in two ways. First of all, in community. We’re fragmented, isolated and apart from one another right now. But plenty of people in the congregation are struggling or are in pain. I know people in the congregation who had experiences of loved ones who died this weekend or anniversaries of deaths this weekend, who are grieving. It is a great opportunity for us to reach to other members in the congregation. I would encourage anybody listening today, to email, text, call three people in the congregation today. It can be people that you know something’s going on, maybe they’ve got COVID or have had COVID recently, or maybe you don’t know what’s going on with them. But it’s a chance to reach out and say, ‘Hey, I was thinking of you, how are you? Just checking in’. It’s a way to connect as the community of God. Because that’s what we see here. We see the Shunammite woman doing things to extend and connect to Elisha, and Elijah reciprocating that. So, I encourage you to reach.
The second piece is, she goes with such haste towards this Man of God and that is her way of going towards God. For all of us, in this time of isolation and fragmentation, where we can be in deep pain, God is where we run. God is where we go.
Elisha, as this Man of God, comes with such love for the woman. Both in requesting a son for the woman, as well as in coming to heal the son of a woman. He’s only a man of God. Imagine- how much your God loves you! If His representative loves that fiercely and that fervently! Imagine a God who loves you so specifically, in all that you’re going through, and all that you have in front of you, in all of the difficulty, pain and fragmentation… You have a God who loves you immensely! Who comes to be in that space! Whether that God is restoring the life of your loved one in Heaven, in God’s presence with them. Whether that God is with you, as you cling to God’s feet in bitter distress. You have a God who loves you! And who responds with quickness and with overflowing love in whatever your situation. So, go there today! Be with God, know how huge God’s love is for you, and how comforting it is! In any and all situations. And how that love is available to you so readily- through the love of God’s community in one another- sharing the love of God. Or in God running for you, Godself. Have a great day everybody. Bye-bye.