Rembrandt’s The Departure of the Shunammite WomanI’ve written about Horatio Spafford and why he wrote “It Is Well With My Soul.” And, I’ve written about the Shunammite woman. One Sunday those came together for me when I read:
So she went and came unto the man of God to mount Carmel. And it came to pass, when the man of God saw her afar off, that he said to Gehazi his servant, Behold, yonder is that Shunammite: Run now, I pray thee, to meet her, and say unto her, Is it well with thee? is it well with thy husband? is it well with the child? And she answered, It is well. (2 Kings 4:25-26 KJV)
But – it wasn’t, thought she answered her husband the same way:
And she called unto her husband, and said, Send me, I pray thee, one of the young men, and one of the asses, that I may run to the man of God, and come again. And he said, Wherefore wilt thou go to him to day? it is neither new moon, nor sabbath. And she said, It shall be well. (2 Kings 4:22-23 KJV)
No, it wasn’t well with her – or her son:
And he said unto his father, My head, my head. And he said to a lad, Carry him to his mother. And when he had taken him, and brought him to his mother, he sat on her knees till noon, and then died. And she went up, and laid him on the bed of the man of God, and shut the door upon him, and went out. (2 Kings 4:19-21 KJV)
Her story begins in 4:8. She was a capable wife and showed no regret for the lack of children in a society where women were judged by the children they had. We’ve seen that in other Bible stories. Elisha promises a son, and a son was born. Now, he’s dead and she’s saying “It is well.”
Don’t we do that? I know I have. Someone kindly says in passing, “How are you?” And, I respond, just as much in passing “Just fine.” It isn’t. It wasn’t for the Shunammite woman. Her son is dead.
When she reached Elisha, he did not know why she was there:
And when she came to the man of God to the hill, she caught him by the feet: but Gehazi came near to thrust her away. And the man of God said, Let her alone; for her soul is vexed within her: and the LORD hath hid it from me, and hath not told me. (2 Kings 4:27 KJV)
She only asked Elisha two questions:
Then she said, Did I desire a son of my lord? did I not say, Do not deceive me? (2 Kings 4:28 KJV)
Elisha knew exactly what was wrong and what to do – but it didn’t work. What it took was prayer in a closed room. Go ahead, look it up.
Even when God’s answer is “Not now,” or “No,” quiet prayer does bring the peace that absolutely passes understanding – and I can say as the Shunammite woman and Horace Spafford, “It is well,” because God said so.