2 Kings 8:6
My moods lately have been so unbelievably unpredictable. Some days I wake up full of hope and excitement, looking forward into the clear blue sky of possibilities, and other days I wake up and feel like I can’t see beyond my next heartbeat. The cycle of loss, grief, survival, repeat has drained me of becoming too comfortable with the idea that things could go smoothly for any length of time. I notice disordered thought patterns that try to convince me I can never enjoy the good things in my life because as soon as I do, they will become lost things. My therapist says it’s fear talking, and I’m sure she’s right, but it doesn’t make it any easier to combat.
I bought a book this week, Dear God: Honest Prayers to a God Who Listens by Bunmi Laditan, and I love it so much for the honesty. I found a prayer within the pages that sums up how I feel sometimes.
She writes, “Dear God, Hope is a dangerous thing to have. Every time I feel a spark of it trying to light the dark places in my heart, I blow it out. No more, I tell myself and return to the gray. I’ve tried hope before, believed in my good dreams, thought Today will be the day, and each time I was wrong. Each time I thought I heard you, I was wrong. Hope tells me about things I can’t have and realities that will never be mine. This is my life, this will always be my life, this has always been my life— I’ll always either feel alone or be alone. The sooner I accept it, the sooner things will get easier. Hope is not for me. Please stop trying. Love, Me.”
I know the prayer is dark, but if you’re being honest with yourself, haven’t you ever felt that way? I listened to a podcast by Elevation Church a few weeks ago about the Shunamite woman who was blessed with a son after decades of barrenness. When he was still a child he died unexpectedly, and she approached the man of God and said, “Did I ask for a son my lord?”
I knew how she felt. In my mind, she was really me, saying, “Did I ask for any of these blessings? You gave them to me even though I knew it was wrong to hope for them, and now you’re ripping them away and the pain is almost too much to bear. Why would you do this? What did I ever do to you?” Now, Elisha prays and God heals the woman’s son, and we assume life is going OK for them. That is until a few chapters later in 2 Kings 8 when we read about her next set of problems.
The land is in famine, and Elisha tells the woman that she must leave with her family and stay away for a while wherever she can because the famine will last 7 years. We aren’t given insight into her reaction except that she was obedient and took her family, and settled in the land of the Philistines, who were the sworn enemies of Israel. This staying away protected her. It protected her son. It kept their bellies fed and their lives spared. But it cost them. It cost them their home, and their comfort, and their sense of community. It cost them nearly everything.
This week I did the thing where you just open your Bible and a verse jumps out at you, and my attention was drawn to 2 Kings 8:6. By this point in the passage, the woman has returned and she has gone before the king to beg for her property to be returned— her house and land. When she went to make her request, Gehazi, the servant of Elisha, was talking with the King, explaining about how this woman’s son had been restored to life. He was giving the King her testimony. So the King looks at this woman, and asks her about it. About how she had lost the thing she so desperately wanted. The thing she didn’t even ask for. The blessing that nearly killed her to receive and lose, which was then restored to her in mint condition at the hand of a merciful God and his faithful servant. After hearing what she had to say, verse 6 says the King assigned an official to her case, and said, “Give back everything that belonged to her.”
When I read those words, it was like hope coming back to me. It was as if God was saying to me then and there, “It’s OK to hope. I can still do it. I can still handle all of this. I am still sovereign.” And He reminded me that the way that this woman received everything back that belonged to her was by her testimony regarding her prior losses. By being able to tell someone else about how, when her life looked grim and her grief was overwhelming, God provided for her and restored life where it looked like only death was all around her.
That is the path we have to take to get our stuff back. Our hope, our zeal, our fervor, our peace. Everything that we have lost can be recovered. All it takes is a few words. “Give back everything that belonged to her.” It’s coming. To me, and to you. I feel it. The honest prayer admitting fear— it’s OK to admit it to God. But then we have to shift our focus from the prayers from a fearful heart to the declaration of a faith-filled spirit. Your intent is to beg someone to restore something you’re not sure will ever be yours again, but there’s already someone talking about you, paving the way, and God is saying, “It’s time. Give all of her stuff back.” —Amanda