Devotional Week 36 Thursday
“Trust in, lean on, rely on, and have confidence in Him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts before Him. God is a refuge for us, a fortress and a high tower.”
Psalm 62: 8
“When is the time to trust?
It is whenever the way grows dim,
It is whenever we look to Him,
Feeling our need the most;
There is never a time or place, -
Be it no more than a moment’s space, -
But we have need of God’s strength and grace,
‘Always’ the time to trust!”
Thomas O. Chisholm
Today’s Study Text:
“And when she came to the man of God to the hill, she caught him by the feet: but Gehazi came near to thrust her away. And the man of God said, ‘Let her alone; for her soul is vexed within her; and the Lord hath hid it from me, and hath not told me.’ Then she said, ‘Did I desire a son of my lord? Did I not say, ‘Do not deceive me?’…and the mother of the child said, ‘As the Lord liveth, and as thy soul liveth, I will not leave thee.’ And he (Elisha) arose, and followed her.”
II Kings 4: 27, 28, 30
“The Shunammite” – Don’t Let Go
Definition of “vexed” in English: Irritated, baffled, annoyed, puzzled. Can’t figure something out.
Definition of “vexed” in Hebrew: To make bitter. To be grieved.
“The heaviest thing in the world is a heavy heart.”
Is there something going on in my life right now which is “vexing” me?
Have I taken this situation to my Father because I have decided not to let go of Him?
“This only can my fears control,
And bid my sorrows fly;
What harm can ever reach my soul
Beneath my Father’s eye?”
“God, how much more can I stand? Help me, Lord, help me to keep my sanity and my strength. God, please take some of these interminable problems from me. Disperse them, deal with them through some other channel. Surely I have been used enough. Surely I have been pursued and caught and used enough. There is not much left. Lord, restore me. Give me strength. But, oh, release me for a little while too. Please give me a respite from these problems.”
The prayer above was penned by inspirational author Marjorie Holmes who died in 2002 at the age of 91. She was often called the “patron saint of housewives” for this Iowa born writer had a special gift for making the stories of Biblical heroes come alive in ways that her critics found baffling. However, her ability to reach out to “every day folks,” relating religious topics such as prayer to current cultural events makes her writings a continual favorite.
Just like her prayer which I shared with you, I think there isn’t a person in the Garden who would have difficulty relating to this passage: “God, please take some of these interminable (to prolong in time) problems from me.” Who of us wants our problems, trials or sorrows to go on forever, with no end in sight? I doubt a one of us wants to live under a dark cloud of tribulation all our lives.
However, if there is one terrible challenge that I’ve repeatedly heard haunts an individual for years, it is the death of a child. As one of my friends told me, “The pain doesn’t go away until the day the parents die. You live with the agony of what has transpired your entire life.”
This being the case, we can understand why the great woman of Shunem was in such a rush to get to Elisha, the man of God – her only hope for release from the bitter grief that came upon her when her precious, young boy suddenly fell ill and then died.
Instructing the servant to “get a move on it,” she rode in haste to Mt. Carmel where Elisha happened to be at the time. When we come upon her in today’s study text, we find that she was bowing at Elisha’s feet, clinging to him with a heart ripped apart by grief. It is not just the fact that she wouldn’t let Elisha go that gets our attention, it’s also what she said to Elisha. Here’s how I’d put her words in 21st century language:
“Elisha, I’m not the one who asked for a baby. You didn’t find me complaining about what I couldn’t or didn’t have. I was content with my lot in life. But then you came along and promised me what I couldn’t have – a baby. You were the one who ‘teased’ me with the idea that the impossible was possible. This entire mess is laid on your feet.”
That’s what I would have told Elisha. And maybe ever more. I might have chided him with the fact that if my son was going to die, why give me the child in the first place. For you see, when tremendous tragedy befalls us, we sometimes are thrown into a pit of pain that is so deep we can’t see anything but darkness around us. And in the fury of the moment, we may lash out at God, for isn’t He in control? I know that upon hearing the sudden news that my dad had dropped dead, my immediate shock turned into anger for I found it unthinkable that one week earlier, when my parents and Jim and I were carefree and enjoying a weekend in Palm Springs swimming, eating and laughing, that God on His throne in heaven knew full-well that within a few short days, the world as we knew it, would come crashing down and so my cry was, “How could you let this happen?” This was the essence of the words spoken by the distraught mother, “I didn’t ask for this tragedy! How could you do this to me?”
Maybe right now you are facing the same challenge. Without warning you lost that job you’d had for years. Boom! And the world of stability you had built crumbled before your eyes. Or possibly that 16 year marriage you had put your heart into is lying in shambles around your feet and like the “great woman” you are saying, “I didn’t ask for this!”
Not a one of us asks for trouble. Even in those times when I’ve willfully wandered off into a mud puddle, knowing that my steps could lead me in a way that might not turn out the best, it wasn’t because I wanted to see how badly I could mess things up. That wasn’t my intention. And this fact reminds me of another story where we find an individual, like the mother of Shunem, clinging to the only hope they had.
In this situation, found in Genesis 32, Jacob, who had gotten himself into a heap of trouble by stealing the birthright from his brother Esau, found himself at a point in time when a brother-to-brother confrontation was going to take place. The night before this eventful meeting was to come about, the Bible tells us, “And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day…and the “Man” said, ‘Let Me go, for the day breaketh. And (Jacob) said, ‘I will not let thee go, except thou bless me.’” (Genesis 32: 24-26, K.J.V.)
Do you find a common link between the mom in Shunem and the patriarch Jacob? It is this: when in a time of complete desperation, they wouldn’t let go until God’s power was released. No wonder this mother is called a “great woman” and Jacob’s name was changed to “Israel” – these two individuals understood the secret to unlocking heaven’s storehouse. They wouldn’t let go of God. As the mother told Elisha, “You aren’t leaving me behind, because I’m not going to let you go.” And the same message was Jacob’s. “Until I receive all You have to give, I won’t let go of You!”
Are you with me today! Let’s make this promise: we won’t let go of our Father when we face the challenges that enter our lives. Instead, let’s hang on tight and never lose our grip. No matter how tough or disturbing our problems are let’s follow the example of the Shunammite, “She threw herself at his feet and held tightly to him.” Hold tightly to your Father in heaven and don’t let go!
“As the rain hides the stars,
As the autumn mist hides the hills,
As the clouds veil the blue of the sky,
So the dark happenings of my lot
hide the shining of your face from me.
Yet, if I may hold Your hand in the darkness,
it is enough.
Since I know that, though I may stumble
in my going,
You do not fall.”
Translated by Alistar MacLean
“What time I am afraid, I will have confidence in and put my trust and reliance in You.”
Psalm 56: 3
“I asked the Lord for a bunch of fresh flowers
but instead He gave me an ugly cactus with many thorns.
I asked the Lord for some beautiful butterflies
but instead He gave me many ugly and dreadful worms.
I was threatened,
I was disappointed,
But after many days, suddenly,
I saw the cactus bloom with many beautiful flowers,
and those worms became beautiful butterflies flying in the spring wind.
God’s way is the best way.”
Written from prison
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.