Choose Faith as a Lifestyle: Upper Rooms
Astonishing transformations, and miraculous resurrections happen in Upper Rooms found in scripture.
Upper Rooms are pivotal, and still 100% necessary in our own transformation process. What happens in them is undeniable, and available to every single one of us.
Are you willing to go there?
Join me in this episode as we explore the Upper Room experience of the Shunamite Woman, and explore our own need to find the courage to journey to our own.
In this study we’ve been looking at the Shunamite and the pattern she leaves for us to follow when it comes to allowing our faith to step beyond Sunday morning and into our daily living. As we’ve walked through her message we’ve been looking at Elisha for the picture he paints of Jesus. What he did pales in comparison, but we cannot deny that his life was pointing us to Jesus.
We’ve also looked at the process the Shunamite walked through to get the man of God into her house, and discussed how that applies to our own process of getting the presence of God into our home. Stepping further into her story, we looked to the birth of the Shunamite’s son – and compared it to the truth that God wants to do something within and through each of us that is bigger than us – something we cannot do on our own.
Last episode we also talked about contentment and outlined 7 components that lead us to experience it. As we outlined them we mentioned there were still 3 that we were going to see play out this week:
- Seek God’s will
- Stand up to fear.
- Trust God
In this episode we’ll focus on 2 Kings 4:21-37 and then 8:1-6.
Today, we’ll see these things play out as we talk about the devastating tragedy she faces, and her Upper room experience. What she experienced was astonishing, and it points us to the same Upper Room experience God calls us all to. When you look at the Upper Room throughout scripture you quickly find Miraculous things happens.
So with that, let’s dive in.
Faith moves God.
We said that from the beginning and we see it even more so today The faith of the Shunamite Woman moved God. This is just the same for us. Last time we mentioned, God wants to do something within us that we cannot do on our own. Something miraculous, but for the miraculous to happen, a foundation of faith must be laid. The Shunamite has shown us how to lay the foundation, and then how to build on it by creating space in our home.
She did this by activating her faith, which led her to a place in God where the desire of her heart was revealed, and her inability to conceive was removed. The same is true for us. The conception we’re talking about though isn’t necessarily one of a child. Ours is conception of God’s plan in our life. The one He purposed us for and HIs desire to use to amplify His message to those around us catapulting it to a level we can never reach on our own.
Remember – we are called to send a message to those around us.
We are told this in 1 Peter 2:9, “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light;
Activating our faith though and comparing it to what we see in her story or those around us can cause us to shy away from struggles, thinking – we don’t have that level of faith. But we have to look at this pattern for what it is. Faith doesn’t have to be remarkable, refined or perfect. It can be a simple faith. We mentioned last time simple and easy are very different things.
We see this really beautifully put in Mark 9:23-25 where we learn about the man whose son was possessed. He said Lord, I believe, but help my unbelief. That doesn’t profound, speak perfect or refined to me – that speaks pure, honest, and simple to me. It even acknowledges that simple is not easy. And that’s what God is looking for in us. Pure, Honest, Simple which is exactly what we see playing out with the Shunamite too.
Proverbs 3:1-4, “My son, do not forget my teaching, but keep my commands in your heart, for they will prolong your life many years and bring you peace and prosperity. Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man.”
Faithfulness leads to favor.
The Shunamite was faithful throughout the unimaginable. Faithfulness in moments of tragedy and pain can be hard to hold onto. When we look to the life of the Shunamite, and couple it with these verses – the portion that says, “Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man. Love and faithfulness were close to her and we see the favor of God shine brightly. As we look to her story we see love and faithfulness never left her. That faithfulness however, wasn’t easy. In fact it was challenged profoundly when her promise dies.
We too can be faced with the same sort of trial. The kind where the promise God has given us, that thing in our life that God desires to do with in us, that desire of our heart that comes to fruition seems to be lost – or over. It can leave us feeling like a door has been closed, and what we thought to be – suddenly isn’t. The promise we received from God seems to be gone. Moments like this can come with an intense temptation to walk away, to give up without even consulting the Lord.
The Shunamite experienced this sort of loss. and just the same we can be faced head on with a fearful spirit. The one that tells us to sit down, turn around, back off, go another path. But we need to look at these situations the way the Shunamite did, and follow the path she reveals for us. The one of Courage. Her relationship with the man of God gave her courage to directly defy it. That connection she had cultivated was key in opening her up.
Perhaps through that connection she learned what Elijah, Elisha’s predecessor had done for the Widow of Zarapheth.
We find her story in 1 Kings 17. The Widow was providing food for the prophet, as the story progresses her son becomes sick, and stops breathing. God uses Elijah to resurrect her son. The Shunamite could have been doing exactly what we’re attempting to do as we dive into her life and find ways of personal application. That practice could have led her to consider, “If He did it then, He can do it again.” Hearing how God works in the lives of others fuels courage within ourselves.
Courage breeds courage.
Just as the Shunamite could have been using the Widow of Zarapheth’s record to pursue the Lord – we use stories about the redemption of others to propel us forward in our own pursuit of Jesus.
The Shunamite demonstrates this for us by going directly to the Upper Room. The Shunamite’s son has died. She’s not telling anyone. Rather she’s taken her son laid him in the upper room she’s created…and she’s believing for a resurrection.
We’ve got to find that same courage. Rather than to assume our promise is gone, to take our promise to the upper room, take our hands off of it, and run to Jesus. Not everyone can find that sort of courage – but the Shunamite shows us what happens when we choose to seek God’s will first.
She then goes to Seek God’s will
“And she called unto her husband, and said, Send me, I pray thee, one of the young men, and one of the donkeys that I may run to the man of God and come again. And he said, wherefore wilt thou go to him today? It is neither new moon, nor sabbath – and she said, It shall be well.” It’s amazing that she had the ability to muster enough courage to say, “it shall be well.”
Friends – how many times have we been in the same sort of situation? Life has not happened the way we expected. Did you have the ability to say, “it shall be well?” Maybe not. Maybe something happened and it’s left you feeling unraveled. Where you’ve considered that maybe this is really over – you’ve turned your back on God and given up on what you thought to be. It’s ok, if that’s happened. It happens to all of us at some point. What I want us to consider through this study is that we don’t have to endure that unraveling.
We don’t have to endure that unraveling.
Remember All Scripture is profitable. With this understanding, and the deep dive of this study, the next time this happens to us we can use the pattern provided by the Shunamite. She had a plan – but she knew God had a better one. Rather than stalling out at the unraveling, and turning around, she pushed through her pain and went straight to the Promise Giver. We need to do the same, take our pain straight to Jesus. This is exactly what she did.
She gets on the donkey and tells the servant – keep moving don’t slow down unless I ask you. So they make the trek from Shunam to Mt Carmel. This was about a 15-20 mile distance which would have probably taken around 5 hours. Remember the boy died about noon. She’s enduring a trek to get to the man of God.
Sometimes although God is Omnipresent – being all places at all times, it can feel like there is a distance that separates us. Can you imagine what must have been going through her mind? This wasn’t running over to the neighbor’s house. This is hours of travel on the back of a donkey. It’s long, and it’s tiring. But she’s pushing through and as she’s working through that trek, something is happening within her. She’s staying focused as they pass towns, people – whatever. She’s staying focused. She’s having to reject that spirit of fear we talked about last time.
I can’t imagine all the thoughts she’s having to take captive – or how much focus that must have required to push forward when her flesh had to have been crying out to stop weep, break down. Her child had just passed.
By pushing on to the man of God, she’s acknowledging that the circumstances she’s facing are out of her control – but they’re in HIS control.
"Weeping may endure for a night but joy comes in the morning."
Elisha sees her from a distance and sends Gehazi to meet her and say to her – Is it well with you? Is it well with your husband? Is it well with the child? And she responds it is well. I love these response. If we remember back – when her husband asked her if everything was ok – she said it shall be well. now that she’s got an audience with the man of God her response has become more confident and she declares – it is well.
There’s a difference between Shall and Is.
She was now in the man of God’s presence, as a result she had a boldness with in her to declare it is well.
She gets to the man of God and she catches him by the feet. She starts to call out like she’s saying, “I didn’t ask for this. You manifested this. I’m not letting go – you brought me this far – finish what you have started.” Gehazi goes to push her away but Elisha stops her. What a beautiful picture of what happens with us and Jesus. He won’t allow anyone to push us from his presence.
Powerful things happen at the feet of Jesus.
Getting to the feet of Jesus requires determination, and humility, and getting there can involve a journey of sorts, just like we see with this Shunamite, but it’s one worth enduring. This isn’t the only instance where we find powerful things happening at the feet of the man of God. At the feet of Jesus – healing happens, truth is revealed, comfort is given, fear is stayed.
- Matthew 15:30, The multitude came to Jesus and laid at his feet the lame, blind, dumb, maimed – and he healed them.
- Mark 5:22, Jairus whose daughter was sick fell at Jesus feet. She’s healed.
- Mark 7:25, A woman whose daughter has an unclean spirit – came and fell at his feet.
- Mary of Bethany, we find her at the feet of Jesus several times. and with each something different, and something powerful is happening with each occurrence.
When we get to the feet of Jesus – astonishing things happen.
Elisha tries to send Gehazi. Gehazi goes, but the Shunamite refuses to leave Elisha.
She doesn’t want his servant, she wants Elisha himself. She demonstrates such an immense level of determination. We need to find ourselves in that same place where we refuse to settle for anyone but Jesus. Stand ins won’t do. We have direct access to the King of kings, and we have to position ourselves to get into his presence.
- Venting to an ear of a friend won’t suffice.
- Self Help won’t sustain us.
- Social media isn’t going to provide us any answers.
Elisha goes with her. Gehazi goes and does as Elisha commands but nothing happens.
So Elisha goes into the room and shuts the door. It’s just he and the boy in the room at this point. Powerful things happened behind closed doors in the Bible. Sometimes we just have to get alone with God. There is a freedom when we get alone with God. We silence every voice of skepticism, every accusing thought, every barrier that might try to hold us back from God.
Remember this was a work of God. The Shunamite had taken her hands off of her promise, and waited for the Lord. She embraced that her role in this resurrection was faith and faith alone – we already mentioned previously that’s hard enough especially in moments like she was living. Fixing this situation required God to breathe new life into that boy. We see that he does just that. Friends, we want the breathe of God breathed into the plan He has for our life.
As we finish the message of this scripture we see just that happening when we find Elisha stretches himself out on boy eye to eye, mouth to mouth, nose to nose. and we see as this happens life begins to flow back into the child. God breathed new life into that child in the Upper Room. Astonishing transformations – Miraculous resurrections happen in Upper Rooms.
He sneezes 7 times, which is a number of completion. The Shunamite is called back in, and told to take up her son. It’s her turn to scoop up her promise. But before she does, she went in and fell at his feet, and bowed herself to the ground. She gave honor first – then she took up her son and went out.
What God desires to birth through us requires his breath to be breathed into it.
It isn’t a work of our own hands – it’s one of His. The message of the Shunamite shows us this powerfully.
But the work of God doesn’t stop after those Upper Room experiences. We can’t let go of our relationship with God after the miraculous happens. Remember this isn’t a one and done checkbox sort of thing. It’s a continuous journey – and with each step of life we’re given the opportunity to continue growing our faith and going deeper in our relationship with Jesus. I imagine the pattern of her life like a cycle, each time we work through this cycle God creating a deeper trench taking us deeper with each step we take to get more of Him into our life.
This isn’t the end of what we find in the Shunamite. We see her again in 2 Kings 8. Her relationship with Elisha is still intact. They’re still connected, and this time Elisha is telling her to take her household and go where they can, because a famine is coming and it will last 7 years. The Shunamite is sensitive, and obedient – she goes to Philistine and when the 7 years is over she returns. She returns to find her land is no longer her own. She goes to the king to ask for her house and her land – and as she is going Gehazi happens to be telling the King all that Elisha had done. As he is telling the King about the Shunamite’s son she just so happens to walk in.
Guys – there are no coincidences with God, this is a divine orchestration. Remember how Elisha was looking to do something for the Shunamite that involved the King. Well, he got his chance, just not how he expected. The King asks the Shunamite about what Gehazi had shared and she responds. Yet again, we see the favor of God is still there even though she’s just lived through a famine and been pushed from her home. She’s lost everything. After enduring it all – The King restores everything back to her.
God is a God of restoration.
That same restoration is what we are called to experience – It’s a promise given. Sometimes we walk through situations in life that feel like a famine pushing us from where we are, even taking what once belonged to us – but friend, that is not the end of it. Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you plans to give you hope and a future.” She experienced and held on to that hope of future. Faithfulness led her to that place – and faithfulness leads us to that same place. the place where we find just how deep the faithfulness of God goes..
I hope you’ve enjoyed working through this study with me. The message of the Shunamite Woman is one that will radically change your life, if you’ll allow it.