One of the stories in this chapter of 2 Kings has always stood out in my mind as a testimony to God’s intimate involvement in the life of a believer. It is the story of the Shunammite woman’s restoration of her land after she had been forced, by famine, to live in Philistia for seven years. Now, I took a statistics class in college, so perhaps that is why this story intrigues me so. I pose the question to you, “Just what are the odds that a poor, (presumably) widow, woman who is seeking justice from an evil king would ‘just so happen’ to have an appointment with that king coinciding with that of someone who knew her?” I think the statistical possibility would be close to – zilch, nada, the big zero. And yet, here we have the story, so objectively narrated for us, that at the exact moment Gehazi (former servant to Elisha but now a leper) is describing the miracles Elisha had performed in this “random” woman’s life, she walks into the throne room! Surely, only by the grace of God could this scenario have taken place!!
This woman’s life was characterized by God’s overt action to bless her in particular critical moments in spectacular ways. Remember she is the one who, in younger days, was so hospitable to Elisha and his servant Gehazi? She even convinced her husband to build a special addition onto their home so the prophet would have a private place to stay whenever he passed through their area. Ch. 4:8-10 Elisha was so delighted with her kindness that he interceded on her behalf so that she could bear a son. And when that same son died a few years later, she patiently awaited Elisha’s actions to resurrect him. Ch 4:11-37 And 2 Kings 8 begins with Elisha giving her the prophetic “head’s-up” to leave the land early and sojourn in a foreign land, before masses of refugees would be trying to resettle during a long, hard famine.
So, just perhaps, on the day she appears in the royal court to advocate for herself – she might not have been terribly surprised that this time again, God acts mightily on her behalf. Her past history indicates worship, prayer, patience and thankfulness were a part of her character. She certainly was a woman that had seen the miraculous hand of God in her life, and surely had grown in faith with each subsequent revelation. Her living son was a constant double testimony of God’s presence.
And why did God work in correlating time and circumstances in her life this way? Reading the story carefully can help us to flesh out the details. We know that her husband was “old” way back when her son was conceived, so the chances are that by this time she is a widow. And we know God is the God of the orphan and the widow, don’t we? – especially for the faithful. Psalms puts it this way:
A father to the fatherless and a judge for the widows, is God in His holy habitation.
He had cared for this faithful woman in miraculous ways many times in her life – and this is one more instance. She now stands defenseless before a powerful king but with the God of Israel as her contender. I submit her story is included to illustrate for us His care for people in their extremity and suffering and difficulty. She would have had no political clout to advocate for herself – and so God designed the details of that particular day so that she would be vindicated. It’s quite a marvelous thing to meditate upon!
So this story begs the question of whether He does the same for us. I say He does. I say He is just as actively engaged to help us and to guide us and to advocate for us – especially when we are without power to advocate for ourselves. He will swoop into our lives on multiple occasions to bless, deliver and save – especially if we are people who are growing in faith. Not only that, but He expects us to have hearts like that toward others – to be like Him in this way. Because:
This is pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father, to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.
So, I see this story validating my belief that there is no random chance in the life of a faithful believer. God rules in our lives just as much as He does in the kingdom of men. Daniel 4:17 He desires us to trust the outworking of His will in protecting, restoring, raising from the dead, saving, and giving us our rightful inheritance (His Kingdom) – just like the faithful woman from Shunem. How I look forward to meeting this remarkable lady someday!