Thursday, July 12, 2012


In continuing through my Bible-reading plan, I read about the Shunammite woman in 2 Kings 4:8-37. At the time, Elisha the prophet was at work prophesying for the Lord as he traveled around the land. This story is about a Shunammite woman, who I'm assuming was barren even though it doesn't explicitly say she was barren, and how her kindness and hospitality allowed her to receive the blessing of a child.

The story says that every time that Elisha and his servant would pass through the Shunammite's territory, the Shunammite woman would request that Elisha and his servant come and allow her to serve them a meal. After a few times of this, the Shunammite woman asked her husband if she could prepare a guest room for Elisha and his servant to stay in whenever they passed through because she knew he was a man of the Lord. So the husband consented, and Elisha and his servant stayed in the guest room prepared for them whenever they passed through.

While staying with the Shunammite couple, Elisha was overcome with gratitude for the woman's hospitality and asked his servant to inquire what Elisha could do for her to make it up to her. The servant asked the woman, but she did not ask for anything in return. But the servant observed that the couple had no children and went and told Elisha that she has no son and her husband is very old (implying that she too is very old, past childbearing age). So Elisha told the woman that by the same time next year, she would embrace her son. So the woman conceived and she bore a son.

When the child was grown up a bit, the child became ill and died. The woman placed the boy in the bed Elisha slept in in their home, and then she immediately traveled to where Elisha and his servant were at the time. Elisha returned with the Shunammite to her home to help the boy, and God worked a miracle through Elisha by reviving the boy.

This story made me think of two applicable points: (1) Serving the Lord with a joyful heart is always the right thing to do; and (2) The pain and suffering you experience with infertility doesn't necessarily end once you have a child.

Serving the Lord
Not much is said about this woman, so I may be stretching it here, but I would assume that if this woman did not have a son for most of her life, she was probably sad and disappointed about this. She probably had a desire to be a mother, and wondered why she couldn't.

But she didn't let that sadness affect her ability to serve the Lord and those chosen by the Lord. She served joyfully. She served thoroughly. She served as much as she could in as many ways as she could think of. Serving meals to Elisha and his servant wasn't good enough in her mind. She knew she could do more to help.

The way I apply this to my own life is how I often allow myself to get into a mental rut associated with our routine life. I get up, get dressed, go to work, come home, go to bed. Sure, there is more to it some days. Some days are more enjoyable than others. Some days I easily have a heart of joy and patience. Usually I enjoy the work I do at my job. But some days I go to work with a non-joyful heart, and that causes me to fall into a negative pit of despair. I will not have a productive day, or be in a pleasant mood, because all I'm really thinking about is how much I want to stop working and be a mother. I whine and complain about how much I can't wait for that to happen. Instead, I should realign my heart and serve the Lord as much as I can, with joy, while I'm in this present struggle.

Colossians 3:23-24
Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve.

I have touched on this topic in a previous blog post, but this served as yet another good reminder of this truth. We as believers in Christ will always suffer in some form or another. Maybe not every minute of every day. Certainly to varying degrees. But don't buy into the prosperity gospel rubbish that when you become a believer in Christ, your life will magically get better and you'll be rich and happy. What is the truth?

Philippians 1:29-30
For to you it has been granted for Christ’s sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake, experiencing the same conflict which you saw in me, and now hear to be in me.

Philippians 4:11-13
Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.

2 Corinthians 1:5-7
For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ. But if we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; or if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which is effective in the patient enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer; and our hope for you is firmly grounded, knowing that as you are sharers of our sufferings, so also you are sharers of our comfort.

2 Timothy 2:3
Suffer hardship with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus.

1 Peter 2:20-21
For what credit is there if, when you sin and are harshly treated, you endure it with patience? But if when you do what is right and suffer for it you patiently endure it, this finds favor with God. For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps.

1 Peter 3:13-17
Who is there to harm you if you prove zealous for what is good? But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed. And do not fear their intimidation, and do not be troubled, but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence; and keep a good conscience so that in the thing in which you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ will be put to shame. For it is better, if God should will it so, that you suffer for doing what is right rather than for doing what is wrong.

1 Peter 4:12-13, 16
Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation...but if anyone suffers as a Christian, he is not to be ashamed, but is to glorify God in this name.

1 Peter 5:10
After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you.

The Shunammite woman likely suffered with sadness at not having a child. Then God finally blessed her with a son in her old age. But her suffering did not end there, it merely changed forms when her son died. She still kept faith by seeking out Elisha's help, instead of letting herself fall into a pit of despair.

So for my life, I need to remember to not be fooled into thinking that the suffering ends with the end of infertility. My suffering may diminish, but I'm almost certain I will experience a great suffering in the future in other ways. But I should strive to respond to that suffering like the Shunammite woman - with joy and faith, turning to the Lord for help. The world is watching us, Christians. Suffer with joy. Keep on rejoicing. Endure it patiently and without giving up hope.

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