• Consider, too, the experience of the widow of Shunem in 2 Kings 8:1-6. Elisha counsels this woman, whose son he had restored to life, to leave Shunem for seven years in order to avoid a famine. She obeys, then returns after this period to petition the king for her land. At the very moment she arrives to meet with the king, Elisha's servant Gehazi is talking with him, telling him about the prophet's activities. Seeing the woman and her son, Gehazi presents them to the king as a testimony to Elisha's ministry. Then the king, obviously impressed, "appointed an official for her, saying 'Restore all that was hers, together with all the produce of the fields from the day that she left the land until now.'"

    This event is a helpful one to remember at those times when, like the widow of Shunem, we choose to pull out of the mainstream of life for a personal sojourn of some sort -- to pursue an educational program, for instance, or special project. The passage demonstrates how God can arrange circumstances to help us get a foothold once we're finished. It points out, too, the value of sticking with the commitment we've made and not trying to take unreasonable shortcuts toward our goal. If the widow had returned early to Shunem out of concern for preserving her property, she might have defeated her own purpose.

  • Then there is the more mysterious incident in 2 Kings 6:15-18, where God opens the eyes of Elisha's servant to see the vast angelic army in chariots of fire ready to fight for them against Aram. It shows how God's spiritual forces working behind the scenes to accomplish his purposes vastly exceed our comprehension or ability to imagine.

    The situation, of course, was unique and involved a military battle; it would be naive to conclude that God needs to employ an army of angels to meet most needs that we face. Yet the passage gives us hope not only about what is happening behind the scenes on earth but in the spiritual realm as well. We may trust that God will use whatever means needed to work out his best in the world and in our own lives.

  • Finally, at this time of year especially, we should consider what the Christmas story suggests about God's behind-the-scenes activity in human life. When Jesus was born, few realized that God was acting in a way that would forever alter the course of human history and the destiny of innumerable lives. For most, it was simply business as usual. An event that would make unprecedented healing, salvation and purpose available had occurred. Yet few had any inkling of it.
  • As God was working behind the scenes for the benefit of many at the first Christmas, so he continues to do in our lives today. Take heart from this unspeakable fact. And in the midst of this hectic season, take time to reflect on Christ's goodness in your life -- not only upon his many blessings that you can see, but upon the fact that he is providing for you and protecting you in so many ways that you cannot see. Keep that thought in mind as you enjoy the festivities of this season, and let this be a time when your faith is strengthened as well. And may the knowledge that God works behind the scenes in your life give you the encouragement to take steps of faith and to stay hopeful in all of the challenges that you face.

    Copyright 2001 M. Blaine Smith. All rights reserved.

    Blaine Smith is the director of Nehemiah Ministries and author of Knowing God's Will.