I loved it, but it got me thinking about great women of the Bible who are unnamed and less well known.
‘There lived a man and a woman,
In a town called Shunem,
They made a home for Elisha,
And found favour in his eyes.’
This is the start of a song I love, sung by the Isaacs. The song recounts the story, from 2 Kings 4, of an unnamed woman and her faith in God in what seemed like an impossible situation.
The Great Woman of Shunem
(2 Kings 4:8-37)
The Shunammite woman and her husband often saw Elisha, the man of God, passing their home, and eventually she prepared a room for him so he could come in and rest.
To show his appreciation Elisha promised her that soon she would hold a much longed for child in her arms and that’s exactly what happened
Then one day her son was brought to her ill and, although she gently nursed him, the boy died.
Who among us wouldn’t sympathise with the heartbreak of being given an only child for that child to then be tragically taken away.
Was the situation hopeless?
Not to this remarkable woman of faith; she ran to call Elisha, the man of God.
A couple of people asked her as she travelled if everything was okay and her incredible reply was, “It is well”.
Her only son had just died; how could she say things were well? She could say it because she had hope in her heart that God would move in her experience and make it well.
Elisha came and prayed over her son. The Lord sent a miracle - the boy sneezed seven times and opened his eyes.
There is so much we could learn from this remarkable woman; her hospitality, her humility, her spiritual perception but, above all that, her ability to say, “It is well” in the most distressing of life’s experiences. She had complete faith in a great God.
But here’s the thing - I know that some people reading this will think, it was okay for the Shunammite woman because her prayer was answered positively and her son was returned to her.
What if that hadn’t happened?
What if God had said no, would she still have been able to say, “It is well”? I believe she would; although we know the end of the story, she didn’t when she said it.
What about us, though?
We all have experiences of sadness or worry or hopelessness in our lives; times when God doesn’t answer our prayers in the way we want.
What is it, in these times, that can help us say, “It is well”?
It is well because all that God does is ultimately for our good and His glory.
His answer is the best answer for us and His will is the safest route for our lives. Is this always easy? Absolutely not, and many have known the despair and heartbreak of the hard path.
“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose”—(Romans 8:28).
It is well because God has promised His peace.
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your request be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus”—(Philippians 4:6-7).
It is well because what may seem the worst-case scenario to us, as we feel the loss of a loved one, brings glory and His presence for them.
“But he…gazed into Heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God”—(Acts 7:55).
It is well because, when there is a parting, it is only temporary.
“And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord”—(1 Thessalonians 4:16-17).
The chorus of the Isaacs’ song brings the reassurance,
‘It is well, it is well,
There is peace in my despair,
Knowing God will hear my prayer,
And I will cling
To the promise that He brings.
Even death will have no sting,
No power in hell.
In His presence I will dwell
Where it is well.’