Today we get to enter the weird vortex of Scripture that is Elijah and Elisha. Two guys, different stories, freakishly similar.
Elijah came first. We read about him raising a widow’s son yesterday from 1 Kings 17. Today we will hear the story of Elisha…raising a different woman’s son in 2 Kings 4. Find the backstory in 2 Kings 4:8-17 — Elisha stays with a couple, and he promises they will have a baby boy in the coming year. They never asked for a child. It was a gift from God to this couple, proclaimed through the prophet. 2 Kings 4:18-37 brings us to the rest of the story. It’s pretty lengthy, but has some great dialogue. It’s as action packed as any Netflix drama:
The child grew, and one day he went out to his father, who was with the reapers.19 He said to his father, “My head! My head!”
His father told a servant, “Carry him to his mother.” 20 After the servant had lifted him up and carried him to his mother, the boy sat on her lap until noon, and then he died. 21 She went up and laid him on the bed of the man of God, then shut the door and went out.
22 She called her husband and said, “Please send me one of the servants and a donkey so I can go to the man of God quickly and return.”
23 “Why go to him today?” he asked. “It’s not the New Moon or the Sabbath.”
“That’s all right,” she said.
24 She saddled the donkey and said to her servant, “Lead on; don’t slow down for me unless I tell you.” 25 So she set out and came to the man of God at Mount Carmel.
When he saw her in the distance, the man of God said to his servant Gehazi, “Look! There’s the Shunammite! 26 Run to meet her and ask her, ‘Are you all right? Is your husband all right? Is your child all right?’”
“Everything is all right,” she said.
27 When she reached the man of God at the mountain, she took hold of his feet. Gehazi came over to push her away, but the man of God said, “Leave her alone! She is in bitter distress, but the Lord has hidden it from me and has not told me why.”
28 “Did I ask you for a son, my lord?” she said. “Didn’t I tell you, ‘Don’t raise my hopes’?”
29 Elisha said to Gehazi, “Tuck your cloak into your belt, take my staff in your hand and run. Don’t greet anyone you meet, and if anyone greets you, do not answer. Lay my staff on the boy’s face.”
30 But the child’s mother said, “As surely as the Lord lives and as you live, I will not leave you.” So he got up and followed her.
31 Gehazi went on ahead and laid the staff on the boy’s face, but there was no sound or response. So Gehazi went back to meet Elisha and told him, “The boy has not awakened.”
32 When Elisha reached the house, there was the boy lying dead on his couch.33 He went in, shut the door on the two of them and prayed to the Lord. 34 Then he got on the bed and lay on the boy, mouth to mouth, eyes to eyes, hands to hands. As he stretched himself out on him, the boy’s body grew warm. 35 Elisha turned away and walked back and forth in the room and then got on the bed and stretched out on him once more. The boy sneezed seven times and opened his eyes.
36 Elisha summoned Gehazi and said, “Call the Shunammite.” And he did. When she came, he said, “Take your son.” 37 She came in, fell at his feet and bowed to the ground. Then she took her son and went out.
In verses 18-26 we see a woman trying to hold it together. She takes great pains to use language that says, “I’m fine.” Only her version of I’m fine is “All is well” in verses 23 and 26 (ESV) or “Everything is all right” in the NIV translation.
When have you ever felt like you just needed to hold it together? What situations and people in your life don’t quite feel safe enough to spill all the drama of life to? Just like this woman, we have places where we need to put boundaries, people we can’t spill it all to. We can relate.
Then, she gets to Elisha in verse 27. She falls at his feet. Elisha’s servant tries to push her away, but Elisha recognizes her distress.
Loss brings with it the kind of fear that sucks your breath in and you just want to fall down; you can try to hold it all together, but when we are grieving we need those safe people we can grab on to their feet and they won’t push us away.
The world is a scary place. The world is much scarier without the people we love in it. It’s even scarier without Jesus, without a Savior, without a Resurrected God.
When you have found yourself grieving, who are your safe people? Who can you grab hold of their feet and let the tears fall?
Not grieving? Now is the time to build your tribe, to invest in relationships with people who don’t push away at the hard things, but have their feet planted firmly in the Lord and His Love, and are ready to bear the burden with you, as you will with them.
Elisha responds right away and sends His servant to heal the child. He has faith and hope in a God who does resurrection miracles. He believes God can simply use his staff to do it, but for whatever reason, God sends the man himself. Maybe for this woman’s benefit, maybe so she can have the comfort of his person bringing the Spirit of the Living God into her home once again.
And the boy is healed. He is risen. His resurrection points to the Savior who will bring the power of the resurrection to all His people and the Living Spirit into all our homes through Baptism and the Word of Life — all yet to come.
Elisha and this woman have another moment. Read 2 Kings 4:37 one more time –
She came and fell at his feet, bowing to the ground. Then she picked up her son and went out.
Relationships don’t just consist of falling at feet in grief, but in thankfulness and joy as well. How often is thankfulness related to all that we fear –
Will we have enough money?
Will someone get hurt?
Will people break our hearts?
We fall at the feet of our Lord each day and say,
We pick up our bounty of strength and mercy and we move along in the journey.
Who are your people that you share “Thank you-s” with? Who sing praises to God with you? Who fall at His feet with you, wondering at all He has done?
Fears, friendship, and thankfulness — God brings all of it together in His plans and His time. All we can do is fall at His feet time and again as we witness His Resurrection in our days.