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I have been stuck in the book of 2 Kings with the Shunammite woman for months now. I suppose “stuck” is not the best choice of words. Stuck has a negative connotation and implies that someone is in a place they’d rather not be. So I’ll say that I’ve been “stationed” in the book of 2 Kings. There is a purpose, a responsibility assumed when someone is stationed, like in the palace guard or in the army. I feel like I can’t move on from this story because God keeps showing me more things the longer I stay there. (That’s a whole different message!)
As I get ready to leave the land of Shunem, I wonder where God will take me next. The final installment of this series ends with the last event recorded from the Shunammite woman’s life. In 2 Kings 8:1-6, the Shunammite finds herself in need of one last miracle from God.
The Shunimmate woman was instructed by Elisha to go and find somewhere to live because there was going to be a famine lasting seven years. So the woman listened, went with her family and they stayed in the land of the Philistines for seven years.
When the seven years were over she came back to her home and land and found that it had been seized. We don’t know a lot about why her land was taken but theologians think that during times of famine, when many houses and land were abandoned the king would often seize land and use it for whatever he needed.
Also, in the book the 1 Samuel when Israel first asked for a king, Samuel warned them against it because a king could do whatever he wanted. He could take their children, their animals, and their land so this was also just one of the consequences of having a king rule over Israel instead of allowing God to be their king.
When the Shunammite returns to find her land has been taken, she decides to go to the king to beg for her house and land to be returned to her.
Have you ever listened to God’s instructions and things got worse? Don’t kick me out of the church yet? I have. And if you’re honest, you probably have experienced this too. But let me assure you, obedience to God is always the best option, no matter the outcome.
God will not ask us to obey in an area where he does not already have a plan. We sometimes think that everything is always linear but regardless of the ups and downs, God is always working things out for our good. We don’t obey God simply to get blessed even though that is a reward for obedience.
1 John 5:3 says, “In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands.” We obey God because we love him. When I ask my kids to do something for me, they don’t wait to see what I will do for them first. They just do it. I may not reward them for days or weeks! I may even have to fuss at them later that day, but their obedience is not based on what they expect to receive but on their love and respect for me.
The Shunammite woman could have been upset that her land was taken from her but she had an experience of God always meeting her needs so I have to think she knew he could do it again.
As the woman is making her way to the king, the king is watching TV. Not really. He was having Gehazi, Elisha’s servant, tell him about all the things that Elisha had done. So he was listening to a podcast. Gehazi was telling him about the time that Elisha raised the Shunammite’s son back to life, when in the middle of the story, she walks in the door.
Unbeknownst to Gehazi, he was acting as an intercessor for the Shunammite. He was opening a door for her to receive favor from the king. Doors are being opened that you know nothing about.
The Shunammite didn’t know that she had an intercessor. She had someone that was already preparing the groundwork for her to come in and make her request. And we have someone interceding for us.
“Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.” (Romans 8:34)
Jesus is always already putting things in motion for us. He’s moving some people out of the way and putting others where they need to be.
I think about the story of Daniel when he was fasting and praying for 21 days. In Daniel 10:12, the angel tells Daniel “Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them.”
The answer to your prayers are already on the way. You may not see them, you may not know them, you may not know where they’re coming from. But they are already on the way. God has great things in store for you and he wants to bless you in ways that you haven’t even imagined.
When the Shunammite finished telling her story, the king assigned an official to her case and told him to give her back everything that belonged to her. She didn’t have to beg or plead or cry. All she had to do was show up.
The things you are begging for God wants to bless you with (and more). Not only did the king return her home and her land to her, he gave her all the income made from the land for the last seven years. She got more than she was planning to beg for! God knows how to bless his children. He knows what we need and how to get it to us.
“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us” (Ephesians 3:20)