Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“He remains true, faithful to His Word and His righteous character, for He cannot deny Himself.”
II Timothy 2: 13
“Bad news has come, and heart and mind are sobered,
We did not think that things would come to this;
We deemed that God would surely send deliverance;
We asked that what was threatened we might miss.
What shall we do? Succumb or get down-hearted?
That were, indeed, the easy road to tread;
With hope and trust cast over, faith abandoned,
And God – the God who loves- why, deemed as dead.
Bad news indeed! But God abideth faithful!
Some fresh unfolding of His power He will show;
Thus, unto Him, Whose love is quite unending,
Whose care and power are limitless – we will go.”
J. Danson Smith
Today’s Study Text:
“And Gehazi passed on before them, and laid the staff upon the face of the child; but there was neither voice, nor hearing. Wherefore (Gehazi) went again to meet (Elisha), and told him, saying, ‘The child is not awaked.’ And when Elisha was come into the house, behold, the child was dead, and laid upon his bed. (Elisha) went in therefore, and shut the door upon the twain, and prayed unto the Lord. And he (Elisha) went up, and lay upon the child, and put his mouth upon his mouth, and his eyes upon his eyes, and his hands upon his hands; and he stretched himself upon the child; and the flesh of the child waxed warm. Then he returned, and walked in the house to and fro; and went up, and stretched himself upon him; and the child sneezed seven times, and the child opened is eyes. And (Elisha) called Gehazi, and said, ‘Call the Shunammite.’ So he called her. And when she was come in unto him, he said, ‘Take up thy son.’ Then she went in, and fell at his feet, and bowed herself to the ground, and took up her son, and went out.”
II Kings 4: 31 - 37
“The Shunammite” – She Took Up Her Son
“The chief purpose of prayer is that God may be glorified in the answer.”
R. A. Torrey
In the darkest times of my life, what qualities of my heavenly Father have I been able to personally rely upon?
Do the requests I’ve asked of my Father, when answered, bring glory to Him?
“Cast yourself into His arms not to be caressed but to wrestle with Him…He may…lift you from your feet. But it will be to lift you from earth, and set you in the heavenly places which are theirs who fight the good fight and lay hold of God as their eternal life.”
P. T. Forsyth
The Soul of Prayer
“Faith is the simple belief that God will keep His promises.”
She was a childless woman with an elderly husband. Through the message from Elisha, this Godly lady was promised she would have a son. And this promise was fulfilled, just as Elisha had told her it would be. But then, without warning, the long-dreamed for child became ill and within hours had died.
What I find simply spectacular about this great woman’s behavior is that with an unquestionable faith that God’s promise to her was true, she went directly to Elisha and informed him of her crisis. But she didn’t just stop by telling the man of God about the tragedy that had infiltrated her life, instead she brought Elisha back with her to her home, to face the crisis which had befallen her family.
Yesterday, as we studied about the way this mother physically fell at the feet of Elisha, holding on until she recognized that heaven’s blessing would be bestowed upon her, we also looked at the way the Old Testament patriarch, Jacob, wrestled with God until the promise of God’s blessing was conferred upon him.
Interestingly, as I was comparing these two rather similar human expressions, I came upon a book entitled, The Best Christian Writing 2000.
Much to my delight, I found an essay called “Holy War,” penned by one of my favorite authors, Ben Patterson. His thoughts about what he describes as “wrestling” with God during times when our faith is stretched to the limit really opened my eyes to an element which presents itself as a heavenly opportunity, during times of severe crisis and heartache, for us to acquaint ourselves with our Father in heaven in a very personal manner.
Here’s the way Patterson describes those times when even our questioning helps us grow deeper as we expand our faith in God:
“Ah, perplexity! Bitter, sweet perplexity…No perplexity, No questions. No questions, no faith. So the God (of Hebrews 11: 6 who says, ‘But without faith it is impossible to please Him’) puts questions to us…Through circumstances He nudges us or draws us or jolts us…Suddenly we are faced with something that challenges our deepest securities, knocks away all of our props or violates everything we ever believed to be true about God and His ways.”
I want to ask you, “Has this kind of a jolting experience ever happened in your own life? Are the foundations of your world trembling right now?”
It was three years ago when Jim and I had an unnerving interruption in our lives that has continued to turn our world upside down for the past 36 months. Several weeks ago, I found myself, again, asking God, “Why did you let this happen? What did we do to bring this on?” Believe me, my list of questions went on and on. And to be honest, I’m certain God has heard these questions from me enough by now that if I didn’t know Him to be so patient, I would think if He was human like me, He might say something like, “Dorothy, enough all ready!”
It is likely that there may be an issue in your life too, that has led you to ask God repeatedly, “Why is this happening?” Oswald Chambers, in his wonderful volume, My Utmost for His Highest, describes what he calls “gracious uncertainty,” those times he defines as moments when, “We are uncertain of the next step, but we are certain of God…we are not uncertain of God, but uncertain of what He is going to do next.” Sounds like what a lot of you are going through in your life.
As Ben Patterson explains in more detail, “Where do the questions of faith lead us?...To the place where (we) discover God to be better than (we) had ever before imagined.” Don’t you just love this! Even in the dark times, we can find heavenly solace in our grand and gloriously faithful Father.
I don’t know what that dear Shunammite mother may have thought Elisha would do for her dead son. But if she had to hang on for dear life to find out – she would.
Her faith, in the words of Kay Arthur, saw with eyes, “beyond the moment, beyond the situation, to her God.”
In her book, Amazing Love, written in 1953, Corrie ten Boom came to this conclusion: “It is not great faith that we need, but faith in a great God.” This is the story of the Shunammite mother for her God was so great that in the darkest, most despairing time of her life, the Bible tells us, in answer to her longing heart, her, “child sneezed seven times, and opened his eyes…and she took up her son and went out.” PRAISE GOD!
“Sometime, when all life’s lessons have been learned,
And sun and stars for evermore have set,
The things which our weak judgments here have spurned,
The things over which we grieved with lashes wet,
Will flash before us, out of life’s dark night,
As stars shine most in deeper tints of blue;
And we shall see how all of God’s plans were right,
And how what seemed confused was love most true,”
J. R. Miller
Hymn of Trust
“O Love Divine, that stooped to share
Our sharpest pang, our bitterest tear,
On Thee we cast each earth-born care,
We smile at pain while Thou art near!
Though long the weary way we tread,
And sorrow crown each lingering year,
No path we shun, no darkness dread,
Our hearts still whispering, ‘Thou art near!’
When drooping pleasure turns to grief,
And trembling faith is changed to fear,
The murmuring wind, the quivering leaf,
Shall softly tell us, ‘Thou art near!’
On Thee we fling our burdening woe,
O Love divine, forever dear,
Content to suffer while we know,
Living and dying, Thou art near!”
Oliver Wendell Holmes
Dorothy Valcàrcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
P.S. Over the past few weeks, because of the generous outpouring of gifts from God’s “Garden daughters and sons,” we were able to complete our current projects and send 10,000 bookmarks to Papua New Guinea. We also sent 500 bookmarks in the Hindi language to Northern India. Thank you. Now we are undertaking the challenge of sending bookmarks to Russia, Lithuania and Brazil and to several domestic abuse shelters here in the United States.
My book, When A Woman Meets Jesus, is available wherever books are sold and on the internet at www.amazon.com, and www.Christianbook.com, or by calling toll-free, 1-800-Christian. You may also call Transformation Garden at 480-349-8619