The Ups and Downs of Motherhood
Topic: Mothers Day Verse: 2 Kings 4:8–4:37
“THE UPS AND DOWNS OF MOTHERHOOD”
2 Kings 4:8-37
Theme: Observing God’s faithfulness enables a mother to be capable of living confidently in crisis.
Women are an evidence of God’s genius. Strong in mind and body, women provide a dimension of humanity that brings creation to a point where God is able to declare that it is very good. The emotional depth, spiritual insight, mental acuity, and physical delight that a woman can bring to a man is something for which every husband ought to lift his hands before God and extol Him for His genius. The tenderness, compassion, attentiveness, consistency, and provision that a mother brings is something that every child ought and ultimately will be caused to rise up and bless. All women, whether married or not, whether mothers or not, are able to invest themselves in raising up children who are directed in the ways of righteousness to the glory of and submission to the Lord Christ.
Yet, the depth of a woman to care, the vulnerability that comes with caring, places a mother in a place where she is impacted by life in ways unique – that often men do not, and cannot comprehend. This often drives a women into deep anxiety and even depression as she senses the discrepancy between what she aspires her children to be and what they actually are. She can soar into great joy and delight in her children one moment and find herself crashed and burned the next. These fluctuations can be evened out by means of the cultivation of a woman’s relationship with God through her faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. I am not saying that following Christ will remove from life the variations of experiences in a woman’s relationship with her husband and children. However, I am suggesting, based on what God’s Word teaches, that one’s relationship with Jesus Christ orients a woman to the resources of grace that will strengthen her and provide her with the necessary means to go through life’s challenges maintaining a constant hope that the glory of God will prevail in and through her life and the lives of her family.
In our text this morning, we see this modeled in the life a woman in the OT known only as “the Shunamite woman.” …
I. SHE CULTIVATES THE CHARACTER NEEDED AS A WOMAN – 4:8-17
A. She Is Sensitive to the Needs of Others – vv. 8-10
1. This woman, although unnamed, is called a “prominent” woman – undoubtedly made great by means of her testimony of godliness and faith.
2. It is evident throughout this story that this woman was a believer – one who looked forward to the fulfillment of the Promise of God to provide a Deliverer who would save from sin.
3. In the midst of great godlessness, this woman pursued the grace of God – she sought to live in such a way to bring glory to God.
4. Her character was one that was hospitable – desiring to meet the needs of the man of God who was preaching and seeking to promote the priorities of God’s glory and she “persuaded him to eat food”
5. As Elisha continued to come through that area, she saw the need that he had for lodging and desires to provide a place where he could rest, know privacy, and enjoy some comfort.
6. All of these things demonstrate that she was a woman who cared about the needs of others – observing what was needed and seeking to meet those needs with generosity and sacrifice.
B. She Is Submissive to Her Husband – vv. 9-10
1. As she observed the needs of Elisha, she remained submissive to her husband – seeking permission from him to “make a little walled upper chamber for him.”
2. She goes beyond and furnishes and decorates it
3. Yet, it is evident that although being a great, or “prominent woman,” she seeks her husband’s approval of her plan – “Please …”.
4. We can also see the yieldedness to her husband as she seeks his permission to go to Elisha later in v. 22.
C. She Is Satisfied with Her Blessings – vv. 11-17
1. When Elisha desired to reward her for her generosity, he sought to find what she wanted – what blessing could he provide for her?
2. He asks her what she wants, and her response is powerful – demonstrating that she was truly godly – submissive to the will of God and content with His blessings.
3. He essentially provides her a “blank check,” asking her to name whatever she wanted even to the point of Elisha going to the King or to the captain of the army (the one who enforced the authority of the King).
4. Her response demonstrates that she was content – “I live among my own people.” – essentially stating that she had everything that she needed.
5. This is remarkable in light of the fact that she and her husband were childless – indicating that this woman had learned that resolved to be content with the life that God had given to her and her husband.
6. The fact that she was described as “prominent” while childless is remarkable as women who were without children were often made to feel “inferior” to other women.
7. Yet, in a godliness unparalleled her contentment was manifested in its most extreme test.
8. Similar to the experience of Solomon who asked for wisdom, and was given everything that he could have hoped for, this woman in expressing her contentment led Elisha to provide for her what he knew would bring her the greatest blessing – a child – vv. 14-16
9. Her response was one that astounded her and she protected herself from allowing her hopes to once again be dashed – “No, my lord, O man of God, do not lie to your maidservant.”
II. SHE COPES WITH CRISES IN LIGHT OF GOD’S POWER – 4:18-28
A. She Is Strong in Her Faith – vv. 18-23
1. Life had become wonderful – the Word of the Lord provided through the “man of God” had been fulfilled and she had a little boy who was growing and learning about life along with his father.
2. However, the child apparently suffered from some sort of catastrophic physical episode – possibly severe sun stroke, or perhaps an aneurism, but his father did not recognize the severity of his son’s condition.
3. When he is brought to his mother, and he fairly quickly died in her arms.
4. She had undoubtedly been praying for God to heal him, but as soon as the child dies, her faith becomes all the more evident:
a) She “laid him on the bed of the man of God” and put feet to her faith.
b) She sought permission from her husband to take the approximately 15 mile trip to Mount Carmel where Elisha was staying.
5. She was not in a state of denial, but was absolutely confident that God could raise her son from the dead – one of the features of true faith even as the resurrection of the Messiah is essential to our faith.
B. She is Singular in Her Focus – vv. 24-27a
1. She sets out for Mt. Carmel and will not be distracted from arriving where the Man of God could be found.
2. She would not be distracted even by means of Gehazi and responds to his inquiry as to the condition of her husband and son by replying “It is well” – indicating that she was filled with faith that God not only could, but that he would raise her son.
3. Her faith was settled on one thing – seeing the glory of God placed on display through the resurrection of her son from the dead – so “she caught hold of his feet” – indicating that she bowed to the one who represented the presence of God, the prophet.
C. She Is Straightforward about Her Frustration – vv. 27b-28
1. Elisha immediately perceives that “her soul is troubled within her” – a reference to a desperate spirit.
2. She then expresses her great fear – the one that had been expressed at the time when Elisha had prophesied of her pregnancy, that she wouldn’t be able to stand the disappointment of dashed hopes regarding a child and now her pain is even worse than she had imagined.
3. Why bless and then destroy? She was frustrated and was begging God through Elisha to deliver her from her despair knowing that God was able.
III. SHE CELEBRATES THE COMFORT OF GOD’S GRACE – 4:29-37
A. She Is Sustained by Her Confidence in God – vv. 29-35
1. This woman’s hope was directed to the source of God’s power in her life – the prophet.
2. Elijah had raised the widow of Zarephath’s son in 1 Kings 17 and this godly woman knew of that miracle and was aware of God’s power.
3. Elisha sent Gehazi ahead with his staff, but the woman wouldn’t leave Elisha – not going along with the younger, faster who could take a token of God’s power and presence to the child – the staff.
4. This woman insisted on remaining with Elisha – “As the Lord lives and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.” – compelling Elisha to himself come to her son.
5. She knew that there was no hope without the direct application of the grace of God and she maintained confidence in both God’s power and grace.
6. Elisha finally arrives and approaches the raising this boy in a manner similar to how Elijah had raised the previous boy.
7. The boy first “became warm” (v. 34), then “sneezed 7 times” (v. 35), then “opened his eyes” (v. 35) before the mother is called.
B. She Is Sincere in Her Gratitude – vv. 36-37
1. When she is called, “she came in to him” and was instructed to “take up your son” –
2. Her immediate response was to give glory to God for His grace – “Then she went in and fell at his feet and bowed herself to the ground” – a posture of worship before the Lord.
3. This woman went through various ups and downs – highs and lows of being a mother but did so with a firm grasp on her need for the grace of God.