Found an article I wrote a couple of years ago and realized I never posted it here. The Shunammite woman has been on my mind lately, so maybe this article was supposed to wait until today. Blessings! Lynette
Saddle Your Donkey
She was a master at hiding her feelings. Yes, there was likely a time she had cried at the altar just as Hannah had, but those days were long past. She had accepted her fate. She had moved on. After all, it’s safer keeping it hidden away, isn’t it? Those deepest desires we think no one knows we have.
As a woman of high standing in her community, the Shunammite woman poured herself into caring for others. When she saw a need, she searched for a way to meet that need. One day, Elisha, the man of God, passed through her town. Certain that he was hungry, she convinced him to stop at her home for a meal. Soon it became custom for Elisha to visit each time he traveled through Shunem.
Desiring to bless the man of God, the Shunammite woman asked her husband to build a room for Elisha to use each time he visited. Elisha was so blessed by this woman and her husband that he asked what he could do in return. He offered her anything – even so much as to bring a request before the king.
Her “no” was quick and sure, “I am secure and satisfied,” her smile securely in place. Elisha wasn’t convinced and discussed the matter with his servant who pointed out the Shunammite woman’s lack of children. Elisha approached her once more and promised her a son within one year.
And there it was. He had found it. He had pulled open the old, dusty, creaky door of her soul that had hidden away her deepest longing - her greatest desire. “Don’t play games with me!” she objected, shaking her head. Her heart lay bare before him, vulnerable. The man of God had met her at a place no one was allowed to go.
Hadn’t she found a way to live while ignoring the yearning in her heart? Hadn’t she long since buried this desire, convinced it would never again be resurrected? Hadn’t she even convinced herself that it was “ok”! She could live without it! This door was clearly marked “No trespassing” and Elisha had blatantly walked through and offered her the very thing she had trained herself to ignore – her longing to be a mother.
I wonder how many Shunammite women I see each day. How many of us have buried a desire so deeply, few can see beyond our good deeds, great hair and cute shoes? How many of us are such masters at hiding it away, we struggle ourselves to put a name on what “it” is? The thought of allowing anyone – even God Almighty – to see us vulnerable and longing in the deepest recesses of our heart is enough to slam the door shut forever! Could it be we’ve convinced ourselves that no one – not our friends, not our spouses, not even God alone, can be trusted?
God did indeed give the Shunammite woman a son. I’m convinced there were days where she sat watching him follow his father as he worked, smiling at the handsome boy he was becoming. Undoubtedly, she thanked God daily for blessing her – for opening up her heart and granting her her deepest desire.
But the story doesn’t stop there! Life isn’t always full of happy endings, and the Shunammite woman was about to find that out.
Perhaps she was washing dishes, or maybe preparing supper when the shouts were heard. Maybe she was there helpless to stop it when it happened. But it did. The unthinkable! The greatest fear any mother could face! The very child she had secretly longed for all those years – died.
She could have raged at God! “How could you? I trusted You! I told You my life was fine the way it was – and… and now, this? Now, I have completely lost myself in my love for my son, and You’re taking him away?”
But she didn’t.
She could have buried herself in her sorrows and given up. Turned away from family and friends with only her tears left for company. No one would have blamed her if she had.
But she didn’t.
Instead, the Shunammite woman saddled her donkey and raced off to find the man of God. Once there, she could hardly speak through her sorrow. She simply clung to him. “What’s the matter?” Elisha asked. How could she tell him what had happened? Her emotions were raw. She fought between wanting to retreat back to the dark room in her soul to giving in to the need to scream at the heavens. “Did I ask for a son? Didn’t I tell you ‘Don’t tease me with false hopes?’”
Elisha knew immediately what was wrong. Without hesitation, he raced to the woman’s home and found the boy’s cold, lifeless body. Closing the door behind him, he prayed to God. Then, stretching his body over the child, Elisha felt warmth reenter the little boy. The Shunammite woman’s son sneezed seven times and then, he opened his eyes.
Friend, our lives aren’t full of happy endings either. Too often we believe we’ve reached “happily ever after”, when in all reality, the story has just begun.
Marriages begin and we are certain we’ve attained the ultimate happiness. So, why the heartache, why the pain that so often finds us a few short years down the road?
Children are born and we rejoice at the perfection of newborn humanity. Yet, rebellion or disease can steal the joy of parenting.
Dreams grow in our hearts - hidden desires of who we want to be or what we want to do. But the realities of life crush those dreams with little to no sympathy.
What is left to do? The Shunammite woman knew the answer – she saddled her donkey! When her world was crashing down around her, she went to the very One Who could give – and take away! Her mother-heart didn’t want to settle for the latter! She had protected that desire with everything she’d had. She thought no one knew; yet God knew and He delighted in giving her this gift of a son. She wasn’t about to let him go without having her say!
You have the same option. When you find yourself crushed and broken, surrounded by broken dreams, He's waiting. He longs for you to run to Him, to cling to Him. Even when your heart is so broken you fail to find words to convey the sorrow crushing your soul. He wants to take your brokenness and breathe life into it. His desire is for you to live the abundant life He has for you!
Don’t roll over and die. Don’t let go of your dreams. He’s waiting for you to come to Him. Get up, climb out of the pit of despair. It's time to saddle your donkey!