The Shunammite Woman

We don’t even know her name. She was influential, she was rich. She was described as ‘prominent and influential, an important woman’. She was obviously kind. She was married to her husband and he listened to her when they needed to make decisions. Her husband trusted her. She was insightful and made good choices, so she was wise. Intuitively, she persuaded Elisha, the man of God to stop for a meal the first time, and then anytime he was passing by or going through Shunem, where she and her husband lived.

She sensed Elisha was a holy man of God. She anticipated his needs and so she went even further, convincing her husband to create a ready-made guest room for Elisha. It had a bed, chair, table and lamp stand and was located upstairs- on the roof terrace so he could have some privacy- his own space, perhaps to pray or rest or reflect. So Elisha had a safe space, his own lodgings within their home that he could come to anytime he wanted. And he did come there to rest.

At the time she met Elisha, this woman was childless and her husband was old. She was so kind to Elisha that he looked for a way to actively reciprocate her kindness. He offered to speak with the king or the top military brass on her behalf, perhaps she needed a favour, but she turned the offer down. She was content with her position and her place in her own town. Elisha still wished to be of help somehow so Gehazi, Elisha’s personal assistant found out and informed him that the woman had no sons. Elisha said to her, ‘by this time next year, you will have a son’. And she did. His prophecy came true and she had a little boy. He grew and the time came when he was old enough to go to the farm with his dad during harvest time. Unfortunately he took ill, complaining of a severe headache. His dad sent one of the servants with a donkey to take him back home to Mom. He got home to Mom but he passed away that day.

When everything went pear-shaped, his mom said, ‘it will be alright’. Her son, her only son, had just died on her lap following complaints of a headache. Yet she had faith. Her consistent answer to queries was ‘everything is alright. It is well.’ She was determined and persistent. When Elisha sent his personal assistant Gehazi to minister to their needs, she refused to settle for less. She was not going to budge until Elisha himself came to pray for her dead son. As well she might, because Gehazi’s ministrations made no difference. It was only when Elisha repeatedly prayed for the boy that something miraculous happened! The boy rose from the dead! This nameless, rich, but kind, wise, and determined Shunammite woman received the miracle she needed.


Trust and rest

Sometimes we look around the world and we feel like we should worry about the future. We hear news that is disturbing from the media or about people we love. We can rest in the truth of God’s word. He is working on our behalf. He is working everything-every situation, every tiny detail of our lives, every decision, every action, every event relating to us – he is working it out for our good. He is powerful enough and cares enough for us to handle the situation. He has a master plan for our future, one that will not be denied or derailed. Why? Because he is actively working on our behalf. And he is actively at work in us. God’s power is at work in us. Look at the references below:

Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. – Ephesians 3:20-21

for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. – Philippians 2:13

“He will not let you be defeated. He who guards you never sleeps.”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭121:3‬ ‭ICB‬‬

Rest, knowing God works for our good, in us, and his power is at work in us. Rest in God’s love, trust in God’s word.


Through their eyes

A reflection on some Bible stories. By Bukky Ajaks.

How to survive a loveless marriage.

Leah : The story of a young woman’s journey through life told through the names of her sons. From unloved teenager to honoured mother and burial in the family grave.

Leah had a hard time. She was the older sister to beautiful Rachel. Okay so Leah had lovely eyes, but what good were they if no one ever got near enough to see them? All everyone ever saw was her beautiful, vivacious younger sister Rachel. Their long lost cousin Jacob was such a great cook and extremely hard-working. He would make a fine husband for one lucky woman. No favours for guessing which cousin he would chose. He only had eyes for Rachel. Like all the other suitors who came calling, once they set eyes on Rachel, Leah might as well be invisible! If only their father, Laban wouldn’t keep insisting on Leah getting married first. So, traditionally the older sister did so before the younger one, but Rachel and Jacob were always mooning over each other. Did Leah really need to be made to compete with that?

This had to be the worst week of her life! Not only had her father embarrassingly deceived Jacob into marrying Leah by tricking him into spending the night with her. Now she and sister would be getting married to the same man within a week of each other. She might as well not have bothered with the tradition of her bridal week. Jacob obviously had his mind preoccupied with other thoughts! Thoughts of a beautiful young lady called Rachel, the love of his life. Not only had he worked the last seven years for their Dad to win Rachel’s hand in marriage. Now he had got Leah instead, he had promised Dad to work another seven years for him to win Rachel, again! It would have been a romantic story if only Leah wasn’t the third wheel stuck in the middle of this impossible love triangle.

Reuben. ‘God has seen my trouble’. God sees! Her beautiful baby boy. She had a son. Someone loved her unconditionally! His adoring eyes sought only hers. His chubby grin widened especially every time he set those piercing eyes on her. Could she love anyone as much as she loved her tiny baby boy. Yes! Simeon! ‘God has heard’ her. God hears. God sees and God hears. Another lovely boy all of her own. Now Leah would not have to compete in vain for a man’s attention. Not her dad’s, not a suitor’s, not even her otherwise pre-occupied husband’s attention. She had her sons to love her who loved her back. Levi! ‘To be close to’! Now Jacob would surely grow close to her since she had three strapping sons for him, right?

Praise God! Judah. ‘Praise’! Another son for her. This time, Leah was going to praise God. He loved her unconditionally. It didn’t matter that her husband would always love her little sister instead of her. God loved her. He saw her situation, he heard her cries, and he gave her these four gorgeous sons. What else could a woman ask for?

After all these years, to be blessed with two more sons! Issachar. ‘Paid for’. What a reward! Having her fifth son felt like a reward for all those years of patience in this relationship. His younger brother she named Zebulun. ‘Honour’. Leah would be forever honoured in her household. The proud and happy mother of six wonderful boys. Don’t forget their pretty little sister, Dinah. Leah felt complete. She felt replete. She did not have the passionate love of her husband but she had her family. She had honour and respect. She was well provided for. She had the unswerving love and devotion of her strong young lads and her gorgeous little girl. She had an amazing family. She knew God loved her. Leah lived to a ripe old age and was buried in a place of honour when she died, alongside her famous relatives Abraham and Sarah.

My coat of many colours: Joseph

Through their eyes

A reflection on some Bible stories. By Bukky Ajaks

My coat of many colours: Joseph.

Joseph wore many crowns: favourite son, slave boy, prisoner-in-charge, Ex-convict turned powerful prime minister and loving son and brother, generous family sponsor and provider. It all started with a dream. It ended with him saving a whole nation from starvation and possibly multitudes from other neighbouring countries. What’s your dream today? Do you let your past stop you? Your past shouldn’t stop you, it should push you forward. Keep going! You have a future because though others may mean you harm, God turns it for good.

“You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.”

Genesis 50:20 NIV