The woman of Shunem
In 2 Kings Chapter 4 is the incredible story of the woman from Shunem. We don’t know her name, but she is a known in heaven as a mighty woman of God.
Her story starts in verse 8 “One day Elisha the prophet of God went to Shunem. And a well-to-do woman was there who urged him to stay for a meal. So whenever he came by, he stopped there to eat.”
In that one verse, we can tell a lot about this woman. She was kind, generous, hospitable and wealthy - and she also used her resources for God by inviting Elisha to her home for respite. But she was also a risk-taker who stepped out of her comfort-zone to approach Elisha - a bold step for a woman in that culture.
Her action changed her life in a way she could never have imagined. It opened the door to her destiny. This woman illustrates that our destiny is not going to arrive at our front door like an Uber meal. Steps of faith are needed.
This woman was also a dreamer. She had a plan and a vision to do an extension to their home so that Elisha could stay whenever he came through her village. She went out of her way to bless and honor the prophet of God.
As well as having such outstanding qualities, she was also wise. She knew that by inviting Elisha to stay, the great prophet who carried God's anointing and authority, she was in effect inviting the presence of God into her home. You could say that she was 'hungry for God.'
What do you think they talked about after they had eaten their dinner?
No doubt the stories of all that God was doing through Elisha. She heard of the miracles, signs and wonders that God was doing throughout Israel and with every story, her eyes widened and her faith grew. She came to understand the greatness of who God was.
This story challenges me to have such a passion and hunger for the Word of God. Someone once said that when we eat natural food, we get full. But when we eat spiritual food, it makes us hungrier for God. It is true.
Elisha was so grateful for her hospitality that he wanted to bless her. 1 Samuel 2:30 says "those who honor me, I will honor." God kept that promise through Elisha who wanted to bless her in return. He suggested having a word to the King on her behalf to curry some favor. But she didn't want it - in fact she said she didn't need anything. However, she was without a child. Having children in that culture was extremely important, and we are told that her husband was very old so perhaps this was the reason. Regardless, she appears to have given up all hope of having a child, it looked beyond the realms of all possibility.
When Elisha discovered this, he prophetically declared "About this time next year, you will hold a son in your arms." (verse 16). Her response is so interesting. She said "No my Lord, do not mislead your servant O man of God!" Her desire for a child was so great, that she didn't want to hope for it (the reason she hadn't mentioned it to Elisha.) We know that this is true, because later in verse 28 (when the child died) she said to Elisha "Did I ask you for a son? Didn't I tell you 'Don't raise my hopes.'"
Have you ever had a dream so big, you find it even too hard to keep hoping for it? If so, this woman would want you to know that nothing is impossible with God.
Back to the story ... Elisha's prophecy was fulfilled, and a year later, the woman held her dream in her arms, a baby boy.
You most likely know what happened next. A few years after he was born, the little boy became sick and died.
Her response to his death is the most important part of this story, I believe. We are told "So she went up t Elisha's room and lay the boy on his bed, then shut the door and went out." (verse 21).
How interesting ... what was she up to?
By laying the child on Elisha's bed, she had in effect given the situation to God, and made a bold decision - she was going to believe God for a miracle!
Where did her faith come for this miracle??
From listening to all stories Elisha told in her home over many years! Romans 10:17 says "Faith comes by hearing the word."
So she saddled her donkey and hurried all the way to Mt. Carmel to see Elisha. It was 32 miles and the entire way, she carried a belief in her heart and declaration on her lips that 'nothing was impossible with God!'
Having reached Elisha and explaining the situation to him, he returned to her home and verse 32 says “When Elisha reached the house, there was the boy lying dead on his bed. He went in, shut the door on the two of them and prayed to the Lord." Elisha was now in the 'secret place' with only God and the boy. And there ... he began to pray.
Then he got up onto the bed and lay upon the boy, mouth to mouth, eyes to eyes, hands to hands. As he stretched himself out upon him, the boy’s body grew warm…… in other words, a visible manifestation of answered prayer had begun - but it was not complete - the boy had not yet come back to life.
So Elisha 'turned away and walked back and forth in the room' (verse 35)
What was he doing? Praying to the God of miracles! The boy had been dead for 24 hours so he was walking back and forth, standing in his authority and anointing as a prophet to declare a miracle for the boy.
Soon, he came back to the bed and stretched out on the boy once more ... eye to eye, mouth to mouth, hand to hand …”
And this time, the boy sneezed seven times and opened his eyes. He came back to life!
His mother was called and when she came into the room, "she bowed down" thanking God and then "took her son in her arms."
We can be sure that when Elisha stayed for dinner, they didn't talk about the miracles happening in the surrounding villages, because their very own miracle was sitting at their kitchen table!
I love so much about this story. This generous and determined woman arose up to become a bold warrior in her faith who pressed on to see her dream restored back to life.
I am reminded that as God's children, because of the victory of Jesus, we live under a better covenant. I believe the Lord is calling us to remember the authority and anointing we carry to call forth life into dead places. (Mark 16)
Perhaps you relate to this woman in some way? Maybe you also have a dream which you knew was from God, but now it looks dead.
Could God be calling you to 'stretch out upon your dreams' as Elisha did? We have the authority to 'cover' and stretch out upon our dreams ... calling them forth in our authority, declaring over them resurrection life. You may even feel to do a prophetic act and picture your dream on your bed, then climb on to it ... face to face ... eye to eye ... hand to hand ...
Like Elisha, you may feel to walk 'back and forth' around your room declaring the promises of God over your dream ... then climb onto your bed again and by faith see your dream arise once more until it 'sneezes' and comes back to life.
Every time I read this story, God speaks to me in a different way. Praise God for how alive and powerful His Word is.
Father in the name of Jesus, I pray for every woman reading this. Lord, if this is a word for them, quicken their spirit now to take hold of it, in the mighty name of Jesus. May supernatural courage and faith arise in their heart as they speak forth the declaration from their lips that 'nothing is impossible with God.' May boldness in you be their portion as they step into their inheritance in Christ with your authority so that the manifestation of their resurrected dream becomes their reality, and your name is glorified. In the mighty name of Jesus, amen.