Have you ever waited a really, really long time for something?
I don’t mean waiting for a few hours, days, or weeks, but I’m talking about waiting years….decades….what seems like an eternity.
And then, in God’s perfect timing, almost like a surprise it happens.
Having experienced this in my own life, I can say that it’s almost an indescribable feeling filled with elements of shock, unbelief, amazement, and an almost giddy, giggly happiness.
After waiting so long that you almost never thought it would happen, you actually feel like you can’t believe you’re living the dream.
It’s almost like Sarah felt when Isaac was born and all she could do was laugh saying, “Who would have ever thought this would happen?” (Genesis 21:6-7)
I experienced something like this last year during my ordination ceremony in May 2015.
Those of you who know my story know that there was an almost 20 year gap between the time that I graduated from Bible college and receiving my ordination. During the 15 years where God had me in a Joseph-like waiting pattern, I have to admit that there were days when my dream of being in full-time ministry had to die. Learning to find contentment in serving God in whatever situation (no matter how crazy or odd it may seem), like the Shunammite woman we talked about last month, I stopped hoping, wanting, and waiting and simply began loving God and serving Him the best way I could in my situation.
Honestly, I was okay with it.
What I didn’t know then was that God’s plan wasn’t finished yet. In His time and in a way that only He could imagine, after 15 years of waiting He began opening doors for full-time ministry.
Five years later, as I stood at an altar, officially becoming an ordained minister, I was overwhelmed with feelings of joy, excitement, almost giddiness as I thought, “I can’t believe this actually happened.”
I wonder if this is how the Shunammite woman felt in 2 Kings 4:17:
“But the woman became pregnant, and the next year about that same time she gave birth to a son, just as Elisha had told her.”
After years of disappointment, after completely giving up on the idea of having a child---so much so that she told God’s prophet to not even talk about it---she had the son she’d always wanted. It must have seemed like a dream!
For several years, she had the life she’d always wanted. If this were a Hallmark movie, the credits would roll and we’d all assume the family lived happily ever after.
However, unlike Hollywood, the Bible tells the stories of real people with real lives. Even though our remarkable heroine had overcome the obstacle of hope deferred, her greatest challenge was about to come when she faced a crisis of hope as the unthinkable happened.
The child grew, and one day he went out to his father, who was with the reapers. He said to his father, “My head! My head!”
His father told a servant, “Carry him to his mother.” After the servant had lifted him up and carried him to his mother, the boy sat on her lap until noon, and then he died. (2 Kings 4:18-20)
What??? How did this happen???? This was a miracle child, what was going on???
I love this woman’s response:
“She went up and laid him on the bed of the man of God, then shut the door and went out.
She called her husband and said, “Please send me one of the servants and a donkey so I can go to the man of God quickly and return.”
“Why go to him today?” he asked. “It’s not the New Moon or the Sabbath.”
“That’s all right,” she said.
She saddled the donkey and said to her servant, “Lead on; don’t slow down for me unless I tell you.” So she set out and came to the man of God at Mount Carmel.”
This is one incredible lady!!
There’s no panic, no hysteria---just resolve---she had some business to do with the man of God (ultimately God).
Notice that the first thing she does is take her son to the prophet’s room. It’s a holy place set apart for the holy man to do his business. What better place could there be?
Next step, get to the man of God as fast as you can. Yet notice, that she doesn’t even tell her husband the reason for her trip. She doesn’t tell anyone until she gets to Elisha.
Why would she? This was a God-sized heartache. No man could help.
One commentary says “Elisha had previously announced life for her who had no hope of producing life; perhaps he could once more give life to her son.”
Look what she says when she finally does get to the man of God.
When she reached the man of God at the mountain, she took hold of his feet. Gehazi came over to push her away, but the man of God said, “Leave her alone! She is in bitter distress, but the Lord has hidden it from me and has not told me why.”
“Did I ask you for a son, my lord?” she said. “Didn’t I tell you, ‘Don’t raise my hopes’?” (2 Kings 4:27-28)
Hear the vulnerability in her voice.
“I didn’t ask you to get my hopes up….in fact, I clearly remember telling you NOT to get my hopes up….still, GOD chose to do a miracle and give me a son. Now what is GOD going to do about this?”
In her time of crisis, when it seemed that all hope was lost, this woman of faith sets an example for all of us who experience a crisis of hope. When her hope seemed stolen, she knew exactly where to turn for answers. Because even though it may appear that she was running to a man for help, the truth that she was running to the God that Elijah served and saying, “You’re the only One Who can help.”
During the times in our lives when we are faced with a crisis of hope, we need to follow her example and run right to God saying, “You’re in control of my life, what are YOU going to do?”
I learned this lesson a few months ago when I was faced with a crisis of hope. It seemed like it came suddenly and out of the blue. Life was going along fine, when all of a sudden a crisis occurred threatening to take away parts of my life that were very dear to my heart.
I’ll be honest and admit that my first response was not as faith-filled as the Shunammite woman’s. Instead, I cried….and panicked…and then cried some more.
Thankfully, I had friends around me who refocused my attention away from the crisis and on to God. As we talked, I realized that the heart of the matter was that I needed to turn the thing I was so afraid of losing…the thing that I had wanted, wished for, prayed for, and waited on for so long…over to God.
Like the Shunammite woman I had to run to God and say, “I didn’t ask You to resurrect my hopes…I was willing to serve you no matter if I ever got what I wanted or not. Now, as I’m looking at a tremendous loss I resurrender this situation to You to do with as You please. If You can resurrect it, please do; but if You choose to take it away, I’ll still love and serve You anyway.”
I had to run to God, place my dream in His hand, and then leave it with Him to do as He willed.
In my crisis of hope, I had to once again find my hope in God….just like the Shunammite woman.
Thankfully, in both of our circumstances, God worked a miracle and restored what appeared to be lost.
“Elisha turned away and walked back and forth in the room and then got on the bed and stretched out on him once more. The boy sneezed seven times and opened his eyes.
Elisha summoned Gehazi and said, “Call the Shunammite.” And he did. When she came, he said, “Take your son.”
She came in, fell at his feet and bowed to the ground. Then she took her son and went out.” (2 Kings 4:35-37)
However, the lesson that we need to learn from this woman’s remarkable faith in found in her process.
In her crisis of hope, she didn’t run from God…she ran to Him.
With quiet confidence, she made a beeline directly to the Source of her hope and placed her fate in His hands.
Just as she had trusted Him to take care of her if she never had a child, she now turned to Him and trusted Him with the life of her greatest love, her child.
Her life challenges each one of us to ask, “Where do you turn when you are faced with a crisis of hope?”
Do you run from God or run to Him?
Does you let anger that God allowed this to happen to you control you or do you control your anger and questions and seek God’s will?
Do you find your hope in God or in your circumstances?
I pray that the Shuammite woman's story encourages you that no matter what your crisis of hope, your best choice is to run to God. Know that He is the Source of your hope, the Source of your strength, and the One Who will see you through this crisis onto the other side.