10 Minute Read

TODAY’S BIBLE READING:

2 Kings 8:1–9:13
Acts 16:16-40
Psalm 143:1-12
Proverbs 17:26

TODAY’S BIBLE VERSE(S):

2 Kings 8:5-6 (CSB): “While he was telling the king how Elisha restored the dead son to life, the woman whose son he had restored to life came to appeal to the king for her house and field. So Gehazi said, ‘My lord the king, this is the woman and this is the son Elisha restored to life.’ When the king asked the woman, she told him the story…”

REFLECTIONS ON TODAY’S BIBLE VERSE(S):

The Lord LOVES stories! Much of the Bible is stories. When Jesus spoke, He often told stories.

In fact, I would argue that we all love stories because we were made in the image of God. God simply passed on His love for stories to us. We inherited the delight in stories from Him.

If you doubt my claim that humanity loves stories, just consider the fact that the movie industry lamented the fact that they only collected $43 billion in revenue in 2017. That’s a LOT of money! The movie industry, by in large, pumps out nothing but stories and people give their hard-earned money to watch those stories on the big screen. We love stories!

God, who is the Divine Author writing His story, brings us into the story. We become the actors in which Jesus is the hero. Every single thing that happens to you and me is part of the story He has scripted for your life.

One fascinating aspect of this truth is that God often weaves our stories together.

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Engagement picture (1997)

For instance, I remember the first time I really noticed Kim. She was wearing a beautiful red dress and was a little bit late for that morning’s Sunday School gathering. When she walked quietly into the room, I couldn’t keep my eyes off of her. It never even occurred to me to ask her out on a date because I thought I would never have a chance. She was worthy of someone much, much better than me.

So, I tried to forget her, I finished my college degree, and moved off to another state to go to seminary. A couple of years later, my sister began dating a young man who had a sister. My sister thought it would be cool for us to meet. Maybe, just maybe we would hit it off.

Guess who that young man’s older sister was?

Kim!

Coincidence? Nope! As a Christian, I don’t believe that coincidences exist. Instead, I believe in a Divine Author who is writing the story of our lives and loves to weave our stories in and out of each other.

Some call it coincidence but I call it providence.

This is exactly what we see in our Bible reading today. Let’s quickly go through the 6 verses, one at a time.

2 Kings 8:1 (CSB): “Elisha said to the woman whose son he had restored to life, ‘Get ready, you and your household, and go live as a resident alien wherever you can. For the LORD has announced a seven-year famine, and it has already come to the land.'”

The Shunammite woman’s son had died and Elisha had raised him back to life. You can read about that incident in 2 Kings 4:8-37.

At a later time, Elisha became aware that a 7-year famine was going to ravish Israel so he encouraged the Shunammite woman and her family to leave and take refuge elsewhere. Obviously, the woman and her family would leave their house and land behind.

2 Kings 8:2 (CSB): “So the woman got ready and did what the man of God said. She and her household lived as resident aliens in the land of the Philistines for seven years.”

The Shunammite woman and her family did exactly as the prophet said. She fully obeyed what she believed the Lord, through the prophet, had told her.

2 Kings 8:3 (CSB): “When the woman returned from the land of the Philistines at the end of seven years, she went to appeal to the king for her house and field.”

After the 7-year famine, the Shunammite woman and her family returned to Israel. But, in those 7 years, someone had taken up residence in her home. That person had claimed her home and her land. Apparently, there was nothing she could say to the person who had claimed her land that would get her property back.

Her only hope was to appeal to the king of Israel. He was her one and only hope. If the king was in a bad mood, or simply didn’t think it was the right thing to do, she would lose her land forever.

I suspect that she was praying very passionately to the Lord God as she made her way to visit the king.

2 Kings 8:4 (CSB): “The king had been speaking to Gehazi, the attendant of the man of God, saying, ‘Tell me all the great things Elisha has done.'”

While the woman was approaching the place where she would talk to the king, we realize that the king was talking to Gehazi, Elisha’s servant. The king wanted to hear some stories, particularly about all of the wonderful things that Elisha had done.

2 Kings 8:5 (CSB): “While he was telling the king how Elisha restored the dead son to life, the woman whose son he had restored to life came to appeal to the king for her house and field. So Gehazi said, ‘My lord the king, this is the woman and this is the son Elisha restored to life.'”

At the moment that Elisha’s servant was telling the king about how Elisha had brought a boy back to life, the Shunnamite woman stepped into the room.

Essentially, Gehazi said: “King! What an amazing set of circumstances. I was just talking about how Elisha raised the Shunammite’s son from the dead … and here is the Shunammite woman. Let her verify all that I have just told you.”

Unbelievers would call this coincidence. Christians call it God’s providence. He was weaving some stories together in beautiful timing.

2 Kings 8:6 (CSB): “When the king asked the woman, she told him the story. So the king appointed a court official for her, saying, ‘Restore all that was hers, along with all the income from the field from the day she left the country until now.'”

The king asked the Shunammite woman to tell him the story. She did so … and worked her present ordeal into the story. Yes, Elisha had raised her son from the dead but Elisha had also told her to leave Israel for the duration of the famine. Complying with Elisha’s instructions spared her the destructive famine but it also caused her to enter into an argument over who truly was the owner of the land and house that she left 7 years earlier.

The king, apparently endeared to this woman because of the power of the story she was a part of, instructed that she was to get her land and house back. Further, the king instructed that she was to be given the total sum of income that had been gained from the field since she left.

Conclusion

The story of the Shunammite woman reveals the power of stories, that we all are part of a story, and that our stories are periodically woven together by the Divine Author.

So, my friend, this means that your life has a purpose! You are part of a story that God is writing. But, that also means that your life and mine will periodically have bad things happen. The Shunammite woman had to leave her family and friends, house and land and then struggle to regain control of her land. But this is the kind of story that we like. We like stories filled with suspense, drama, and where the hero and heroine overcome what seem to be insurmountable obstacles.

My friend, God is going to write all sorts of things into your story, including things that other people might be tempted to call coincidences. Don’t believe it. God, the Divine Author, is providentially working all sorts of things into the story of your life.

So, enjoy it. Embrace what comes your way. Realize that God has promised to work everything out for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28).

And realize that you and I will have eternity to look back over our story and realize just how intricately God wove the story of our life with other stories. I suspect that we will be amazed when we get to Heaven and God tells us all that He was doing in our life to express His love and grace.

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