Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“Happy and fortunate is the man (and woman) whom God reproves; so do not despise or reject the correction of the Almighty for He wounds, but He binds up; He smites, but His hands heal. He will rescue you in six troubles; in seven nothing that is evil will touch you.”
“How oft at the touch of that
My storm – troubled soul
has at once grown calm,
The tempest that surges I will not fear,
For how can I sink if that Hand is near!”
Today’s Study Text:
“And he (her husband) said, ‘Wherefore wilt thou go to him (Elisha) today? It is neither new moon, nor Sabbath.’ And she said, ‘It shall be well’…‘Is it well with the child?’ And she answered, ‘It is well.’”
“The Shunammite” – It Is Well
“When we know God and recognize fully His deep love for us, we will more willingly and freely yield ourselves to His plan for us and our life. Although in our pain we may sometimes ask, ‘Why?’ we can trust that God’s plan for us is good.”
If I had been in the position of the “great woman” from Shunem and my child had just died, could I have said with surety, “All is well?”
“Things happen. Deep hurts happen. If you and I are going to walk in this trust thing, we’ve got to get down in under all those conditional elements until we can say this, ‘I just trust You.’”
“Nothing can happen to a child of God outside the will of God.”
Ever since I read Jill Briscoe’s terrific book, There’s A Snake in My Garden, in 1980, I have attempted to read every book she has written because I have found her thoughts tremendously helpful as I have tried to faithfully walk with God.
But I have to be completely candid about the words above which she penned for I don’t really like them at all! How do you feel when you read: “Nothing can happen to a child of God outside the will of God.” That’s a tough thought for me to get my head around. It means that when a young man intentionally tried to kill my husband and me, that somehow and in someway, God’s will had to be woven into bringing out of this terrifying and evil event, something which included the promise that all things would work to accomplish God’s will in Jim’s life and in my life, too. Honestly, there are days when I’m left scratching my head, left to wonder how unending pain works to fulfill God’s will. And least you think I’m feeling too sorry for myself, I want to quickly point out that I recognize many of you face trials and tribulations that don’t just seem overwhelming – they are overwhelming.
A few weeks ago our “resident” poet here in Transformation Garden, Linda Oliver wrote me and shared the fact that the disease she battles daily, Multiple Sclerosis, has flared up and she was suffering uncontrollable muscle pain. Yet, and this is quite unbelievable, through all her agony, she sent me the words to a new poem she had written, called “When Did You Meet Grace?” It’s truly one of Linda’s deepest expressions of heaven’s touch in her life and as I read the words she wrote, I wondered to myself, “Is it in our most difficult moments when God’s revelation of His will and power in our lives reveals itself the most?” It’s a question I won’t attempt to answer for others. However, in my own life, when threatened by the greatest challenges, it is then that I become the most aware of my incompetence in handling all that life throws at me. And so I must turn to the “One” who can keep me within the hollow of His hand.
Thus it was with the mother in Shunem who had lost her child. A promised child. A child who was a gift from God. A child that was this mother’s complete delight. Don’t you imagine that this mother’s future was bound up in the life of this boy? With an aging husband, it is very likely this mother looked at her son as her future security and as the long-term foundation of her family. And then, just as the young man was old enough to go into the field and work along beside his father, the unthinkable happened.
Might I be frank with you? I have found that it is the unthinkable that often knocks us off our feet. Sometimes I know I can dream up crazy things to worry about. But in my own life, it is those events which I could simply not imagine happening to me which have up-ended my life the most. These are the times when you say to yourself: “Who in the world could have dreamed that something like this could have happened to me?” I rather think that the woman of Shunem could never have conjured up in her worst nightmares, that a gifted son of promise would die. It’s not even something that would run through your mind. And yet, the unthinkable did happen. Suddenly, with no advance warning, this loving mother had to face a reality that seemed impossible to believe. With a swiftness borne within a desperate mother’s heart, she laid her son on Elisha’s bed and then asked her husband to immediately arrange for her to go to see, “the man of God.”
Obviously, from her husband’s response, she had gone to see Elisha before – during sacred times and special events – but this time was different. With words that were meant to reassure rather than alarm, when asked why the visit to the man of God was necessary at this very moment in time, she replied, “All will be well.” And again, when asked by Elisha’s servant how her child was, this God-trusting mother explained, “It is well.”
As I read these words, I found myself doing some deep soul-searching for I wondered, “Would I have responded in the same way?” In those times when my heavenly Father’s presence seems the farthest away and when darkness appears to block any light, will I say with confidence, “all is well?”
In the 19th century, poet Mary Gardiner Brainard, penned the words to a poem entitled, “Not Knowing.” I’d like to share her insightful words for although they were written many years ago, they apply to us today:
“I know not what will befall me: God hangs a mist o’er my eyes;
And thus, each step of my onward path, He makes new scenes arise,
And every joy He sends to me comes like a sweet surprise.
I see not a step before me as I tread on another year;
But I’ve left the past in God’s keeping, - the future His mercy shall clear,
And what looks dark in the distance may brighten as I draw near.
For perhaps the dreaded future is less bitter than I think;
The Lord may sweeten the waters before I stoop to drink;
Or, if Marah must be Marah, He will stand beside its brink.
It may be He keeps waiting, for the coming of my feet,
Some gift of such rare blessedness, some joy so strangely sweet,
That my lips shall only tremble with the thanks they cannot speak.
O restful, blissful ignorance ‘Tis blessed not to know;
It keeps me still in those mighty arms which will not let me go,
And lulls my weariness to rest on the bosom that loves me so.
So I go on not knowing, - I would not if I might;
I would rather walk in the dark with God than go alone in the light;
I would rather walk with Him by faith than walk alone by sight.
My hearts shrinks back from trials which the future may disclose,
Yet I never had sorrow but what the dear Lord chose;
So I send the coming tears back with the whispered word, ‘He knows.’”
When asked how things were going, the mother of Shunem responded with confidence “All is well!” How could she speak these words? It is because as Mary Brainard wrote, “I would rather walk with God in the dark than go alone in the light.” Who we choose to walk with, makes all the difference in the world. And it makes it possible for us to say, “All is well.”
“Afresh I seek thee. Lead me – once more I pray – even should it be against my will, Thy way.”
Diary of An Old Soul
The words to the hymn, “It Is Well With my Soul” were written by Horatio G. Spafford after learning that his four daughters, Maggie, Ianetta, Annie, and Bessie had perished in the sinking of the Ville du Havre, a luxurious French liner. After receiving the news in a cable from his wife, he said to himself, “It is well; the will of God be done.” And later he wrote the following:
“When peace like a river,
Attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot,
Thou hast taught me to say,
It is well with my soul.
It is well.
It is well – with my soul.”
Horatio G. Spafford
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.
My book, When A Woman Meets Jesus, is available wherever books are sold and on the internet at www.amazon.com, and www.Christianbook.com, or by calling toll-free, 1-800-Christian. You may also call Transformation Garden at 480-349-8619