Summary: Part 6 of the Sermon Series, "God of Elisha"
God rewards the generous faith of the Shunnamite woman. Let us look into five more marks of her faith. It may well describe our faith as well.
A Tested Faith
“And when he had lifted him and brought him to his mother, the child sat on her lap till noon, and then he died” (2 Ki. 4:20). The miracle baby grew up to be a young boy. One day, during harvest season, the boy complained of a headache. He probably suffered a heatstroke. A servant brought him to his mother. She held him on her lap until noon, until he died.
If you were this mother, how would you feel watching your only child, the treasure of your heart, the gift of God, die on your lap? In the school of faith, there will always be exams. The exams take the form of trials, troubles, and tribulations. Sometimes, we will fail the exams of faith. The important thing is to learn the lessons after we fail the exams.
The Shunnamite woman faced a crisis of faith. In your faith journey, you will also face a crisis of faith. Your faith in God will be tested by fire. The divine purpose of the tests of faith is to show the glory of the grace of God in times of troubles. It is also to sharpen your faith, to stretch it, and to shape it.
That is what happened to Abraham, the dean of faith. God told Abram to go to the land that God shall give him. Then when he got to the promised land of Canaan, there was a famine in the land (Gen. 12:1-10). Imagine going to the land of blessing, only to find a famine in the land. That is why the prosperity gospel is a false gospel. It tells you that if you obey the Lord, the Lord is obligated to bless you with health and wealth. Abram obeyed the Lord perfectly. But when he got to the land of promise, there was a famine in the land.
The famine was a test of faith for Abram. Is that not a picture of the faith journey of the nation of Israel? In Deuteronomic stipulation, Yahweh shall bless Israel for covenant obedience. Yet along with the blessings are the trials of her faith in God. I think that the writer of Kings included this story of the miraculous birth and resurrection of the Shunnamite woman’s son to show a greater miracle—the miracle of God’s grace to Israel.
Are you trusting God today, walking in a faith journey with Him? Expect the tests of faith. The tests shall show the glory of God’s grace. It shall also sharpen your faith.
But you must learn to trust God in the trials of faith. The time of troubles is the best time to trust God. It is the best place to exercise your faith in God.
A Working Faith
She put the boy on the bed of Elisha (2 Ki. 4:21). Maybe she did not want anyone, including her husband, to bother the body before Elisha comes back. Then she asks her husband to send her a servant and a donkey to go with her to Elisha. Her husband, not knowing about the boy, asks why she wants to go to Elisha. It is not yet the new moon or Sabbath. The prophets conducted worship or preaching services during the new moon and Sabbath.1 The husband seemed to say in modern terms, “Why go to him when it’s not the time for church?”
She answered, “All is well” (v. 23). The Hebrew word is shalom. Then she told the servant to go full speed ahead to Mt. Carmel (v. 24). She has finalized her plan. She was determined to achieve her plan. She will not allow anyone to jeopardize that plan.
True faith is a working faith. Do you believe that you are saved by grace through faith? Then work out your own salvation, for it is God who works in you (Phil. 2:13).
Faith without works is dead. A living faith is a working faith. James wrote, "If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, be warmed and filled,’ without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead" (James 2:15-17).
Prove your faith by your works!
Do you believe that God will provide your needs? Then work hard for it! God does not bless lazy people. Paul said,
"For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat. For we hear that some among you walk in idleness, not busy at work, but busybodies. Now such persons we command and encourage in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living” (1 Thess. 3:10-12).