I told you a few days ago the Lord had been dealing with my heart about the topic of giving up. The lessons haven’t stopped. In fact, at a missions conference this weekend, I saw a Bible story in a whole new light, and the message has stuck with me. I’d like to share a portion of it with you today.
Second Kings 4 tells the story of a couple who loved the prophet, Elisha so much they built a room for him within their home. He was welcomed any time, and they saw to his needs on more than one occasion. In thanks for their faithfulness and hospitality, Elisha promised them a son, for the woman was barren. And it came to pass, the couple had a boy just as the prophet had said, but one day, the child went out with his father into the field and became ill, crying about a pain in his head. The Bible doesn’t specify what the illness was, but it caused the child to die. The Shunammite woman, heartbroken, went out in search of the man of God, and when she found him, she explained what happened. Distraught by the news, Elisha resolved to set things right.
The first thing Elisha did was to pray, which is an excellent reminder to us that the first thing we should do in a crisis is call upon the Lord. But look at what he did next. He lay face down upon the child. It’s strange, I know, but the action had a positive response—the child grew warm. However, the child still wasn’t awake. The situation was still dire.
Elisha paced the house, and I have no doubt in my mind, he was still praying. But I have to wonder, too, if he was beginning to question. Did I do the right thing? Did I do it the right way? Am I missing something? Why didn’t it work? Could it be this is not God’s will?
Oh, how I can relate to the flurry of questions! When I’ve done what I know to do and things don’t work out the way they should (or I think they should), I find myself in a tug-of-war between praying and questioning. Typically, the struggle ends with a final question: what do I do now? Faith urges me to keep doing the right thing and leave the results up to God while doubt cause me to wonder, What’s the use?
I can’t say for sure Elisha faced that same tug-of-war, but I can tell you he acted in faith. After pacing a while, he repeated his previous action, stretching out upon the child, and his faith paid off. The child awoke. The family was reunited. And the prophet was reminded that persistence is golden. I’m not sure who coined the phrase, “If at first, you don’t succeed, try, try again,” but they were following Scriptural advice.
Even when what we’re doing doesn’t seem to be working, if we’re following God’s will for our lives, we can trust our persistence will pay off. Keep working even when the rewards are few. Keep witnessing even when the message seems to fall on deaf ears. Keep training your children even when it seems they’re not interested. Keep fighting even when you feel you don’t have the strength to stand. Keep on keeping on, and God will reward your faith.