In last week’s scripture lesson, we were blessed with the image of a woman who offers radical hospitality to a virtual stranger. This week we are blessed to see how this woman’s perseverance and faith helped her deal with two experiences of loss in her life. We have much to learn from the Shunammite woman who is willing to build an addition to her home to accommodate a stranger. What can we learn about perseverance and faith from the woman in this scripture lesson?
On last week we learned that her radical hospitality toward Elisha was an act of God’s grace. God’s grace is given to us freely and it is the unmerited love of God. We cannot earn it and we do not deserve it. God often uses other people as a channel of grace. The Shunammite woman allowed herself to be a channel of God’s grace for Elisha. Also, we learned that when we allow ourselves to be channels of God’s grace for others, likewise, we open ourselves up to experience radical hospitality in our own lives. The Shunammite woman experienced the miraculous birth of a son because she showed radical hospitality to Elisha.
This week, in spite of her acts of grace, she experiences two losses in her own life. In verses 18-21, we see that her son dies. Many scholars believe that the boy died from heat stroke. This belief is based on the two details: the boy was working in the field and the boy says that his head is his source of pain.
How could this be? Why would God miraculously bless the Shunammite woman with a son, only to allow him to prematurely die? Why would a good and perfect God allow this to happen? I am sure that the woman may have been struggling with these questions as she went on her journey to see the prophet. While we don't know why God allowed this to happen, we do know that it is this Shunammite woman’s faith that brought her son back to life. In verses 23 & 26, she said that things were alright. Even though things were not alright at that moment, she believed that things would be alright in the end. She convinced Elisha to go restore her son back to life.
In 2 Kings 8:1-6, Elisha tells the Shunammite woman to take her family to another land because God decreed a famine in the land for seven years. The Shunammite woman did as the prophet instructed, but when she returned her house and land had been seized. Why did God spare her from the famine, yet allowed her house and land to be taken away? I am sure the woman had to be wrestling with that question, but she does not allow the question to keep her from doing something about her situation. The loss of the woman’s land had to be a traumatic experience, but the woman did not waste her time saying “whoa is me.” Instead she goes directly to the king to petition to have her land and house returned to her. When she arrives Gehazi is telling the king about all of Elisha’s miracles including restoring the Shunammite woman’s son to life. The king is so impressed that he gave her all her property back plus all the income that as generated from her land during her seven year absence. This was all possible because of the woman’s radical acts of hospitality toward Elisha.
What is faith?
How is faith and radical hospitality connected to each other?
Why does God allow bad things to happen to good people?
Are you making room for God and new people in your life? What is the process for making room?
How can we practice radical hospitality outside of the comfort of our homes? Now do it.
Pray for ten minutes a day. Read 2 Corinthians 9:6-15
Read scripture for ten minutes a day.