Here’s a title to lift your day– ‘Deceived, Doubting and Downcast’! Should you stop reading this? Maybe, just maybe, the Lord has something to say to you and me from deep within the Old Testament, from 2 Kings 4.
Here’s a story about the prophet Elisha and a couple from Shunem, a town in the northern part of ancient Israel. Of the couple, it’s the wife our author focuses in on. They’re probably a tad wealthy, so she suggests to her husband that they build a room for Elisha, on the upper story of their house, for when he comes their way. She’ll also provide necessary food.
When Elisha stops by one day, he feels obligated to return the favor. 2 Kings 4:13–‘…See, you have taken all this trouble for us; what is to be done for you?’ Elisha’s sidekick, Gehazi, pipes up that they would love to have a child. They’re a bit long in the tooth with biological clock about to strike midnight.
2 Kings 4:16–‘…At this season, about this time next year, you shall embrace a son.’ Wow! Really, Elisha? Are you joshing us? Putting one over on us? Snow job in the hot desert? She’s unsure. Maybe he’s lying, trying to butter her up, keeping this free Airbnb alive and well. ‘…O man of God, do not lie to your servant’–2 Kings 4:16. Liar, liar, pants on fire? Not so. For next year she cradles a lovely baby boy, all of their own, as promised.
Time passes and this boy grows up into a young man, who helps his father in the fields. One day their son experiences searing head pain, causing him to collapse. Carried back to his mother, he dies. She seeks out Elisha for emergency help saying–“Did I ask my lord for a son? Did I not say, ‘Do not deceive me?'” (2 Kings 4:28). Not only lied to but deceived. Torrid finger-wagging right in Elisha’s face.
Elisha rushes to the deceased boy’s side and you know what happens. A miracle! Life restored! Not by Elisha but through you-know-who. The mother now rises up in gratitude for what the Lord has done. Note that Elisha doesn’t gloat over his success or throw salt in her wounds by maligning, denouncing and tearing into her for being faithless. A hint there? About how considerate I am of other’s frailty? How Jesus treats me? How I care for myself?
Even when downcast, especially then, the Lord wants to draw near, not with scorching, strident potshots, but with kindness, understanding, and tender loving care. I often expect the back of His hand only to find the one that helps. His forgiving love more than anger.
I need more of Jesus as He truly is. Not as my peabrain misreads Him. Don’t you want the same? Gone on–grab hold…of Jesus!
Thank you, Lord Jesus, for being here with me today and always. Amen.