It is Well With My Soul

Scripture Reading:
 2 Kings 4:8-37

8 Now it happened one day that Elisha went to Shunem, where there was a notable woman, and she
persuaded him to eat some food. So it was, as often as he passed by, he would turn in there to eat
some food. 9 And she said to her husband, “Look now, I know that this is a holy man of God, who
passes by us regularly. 10 Please, let us make a small upper room on the wall; and let us put a bed
for him there, and a table and a chair and a lampstand; so it will be, whenever he comes to us, he
can turn in there.”
11 And it happened one day that he came there, and he turned in to the upper room and lay down
there. 12 Then he said to Gehazi his servant, “Call this Shunammite woman.” When he had called
her, she stood before him. 13 And he said to him, “Say now to her, ‘Look, you have been concerned
for us with all this care. What can I do for you? Do you want me to speak on your behalf to the king or
to the commander of the army?’”
She answered, “I dwell among my own people.”
14 So he said, “What then is to be done for her?”
And Gehazi answered, “Actually, she has no son, and her husband is old.”
15 So he said, “Call her.” When he had called her, she stood in the doorway. 16 Then he said, “About
this time next year you shall embrace a son.”
And she said, “No, my lord. Man of God, do not lie to your maidservant!”
17 But the woman conceived, and bore a son when the appointed time had come, of which Elisha
had told her.

This story has been on my heart all week.  I knew by Tuesday that it would be part of
this morning’s message   Elisha was Elijah’s servant/assistant/protégé/apprentice.  
When Elijah was taken up in the chariot of fire Elisha became his heir apparent as the
next great prophet of the LORD Yahweh.  He doesn’t get a lot of the press some other’
s do but God did many might works through him, and we’ll get to that.  It begins when
Elisha goes to Shunem.  A woman of some notoriety convinces him to eat at her
house.  Why?  It doesn’t really get into that, but remember hospitality was and still is
very important in the Middle East.  As you read the story you see that she is way more
than just hospitable. She talks her husband into an addition.  She says she can tell he
is a holy man so let’s make him his own room for when he comes.

You know it must have been some time that passed because the next paragraph shows
Elijah already in his new room.  He’s lying there and he thinks, this lady is being so nice
and she hasn’t even asked for anything.  He tells his servant Gehazi to go get her so
he can do something nice for her.  Now as you read this part it seems that it’s possible
they don’t speak the same language because it seems like Gehazi may be translating.  
He ask her what he can do for her and she basically says, nothing.  She’s fine.  There’
s nothing that she needs.  This goes to show that she was really being nice just to be
nice and not to get something in return.  She obviously leaves and he ask Gehazi what
he thinks and he comes up with something.  She has no son and her husband is old.  
This is very important because in most Middle Eastern cultures of the time, women
could not own property.  If her husband dies and she has no son she’s in trouble.  So
he calls her back, prophesies a son and the lady is like do lie like that.  She could not
believe it but she did indeed conceive and the next year she had her son.  She had
blessed the man of God and God had blessed her because of it.  But that’s not the end
of the story.  Let’s read on.


18 And the child grew. Now it happened one day that he went out to his father, to the reapers. 19 And
he said to his father, “My head, my head!”
So he said to a servant, “Carry him to his mother.” 20 When he had taken him and brought him to his
mother, he sat on her knees till noon, and then died. 21 And she went up and laid him on the bed of
the man of God, shut the door upon him, and went out. 22 Then she called to her husband, and said,
“Please send me one of the young men and one of the donkeys, that I may run to the man of God
and come back.”
23 So he said, “Why are you going to him today? It is neither the New Moon nor the Sabbath.”
And she said, “It is well.” 24 Then she saddled a donkey, and said to her servant, “Drive, and go
forward; do not slacken the pace for me unless I tell you.” 25 And so she departed, and went to the
man of God at Mount Carmel.
So it was, when the man of God saw her afar off, that he said to his servant Gehazi, “Look, the
Shunammite woman! 26 Please run now to meet her, and say to her, ‘Is it well with you? Is it well with
your husband? Is it well with the child?’”
And she answered, “It is well.”

What?!  It is well?  Didn’t she just leave her son, her only son dead on a bed in her
house?  She must not have even told her husband that he was dead because she’d
told him the same thing, it is well.   In fact, she never tells anyone that he is dead.  Lets
finish the story.

27 Now when she came to the man of God at the hill, she caught him by the feet, but Gehazi came
near to push her away. But the man of God said, “Let her alone; for her soul is in deep distress, and
the LORD has hidden it from me, and has not told me.”
28 So she said, “Did I ask a son of my lord? Did I not say, ‘Do not deceive me’?”
29 Then he said to Gehazi, “Get yourself ready, and take my staff in your hand, and be on your way. If
you meet anyone, do not greet him; and if anyone greets you, do not answer him; but lay my staff on
the face of the child.”
30 And the mother of the child said, “As the LORD lives, and as your soul lives, I will not leave you.”
So he arose and followed her. 31 Now Gehazi went on ahead of them, and laid the staff on the face of
the child; but there was neither voice nor hearing. Therefore he went back to meet him, and told him,
saying, “The child has not awakened.”
32 When Elisha came into the house, there was the child, lying dead on his bed. 33 He went in
therefore, shut the door behind the two of them, and prayed to the LORD. 34 And he went up and lay
on the child, and put his mouth on his mouth, his eyes on his eyes, and his hands on his hands; and
he stretched himself out on the child, and the flesh of the child became warm. 35 He returned and
walked back and forth in the house, and again went up and stretched himself out on him; then the
child sneezed seven times, and the child opened his eyes. 36 And he called Gehazi and said, “Call
this Shunammite woman.” So he called her. And when she came in to him, he said, “Pick up your
son.” 37 So she went in, fell at his feet, and bowed to the ground; then she picked up her son and
went out.

Elisha perceives that there is something wrong.  She basically says, did I ask for this?  
Still she never lets the unthinkable come out of her mouth.  Never does she say her
son is dead.  Some people would say she was in denial.  Through this entire ordeal
what she says most is, it is well.  Wow!  Talk about speaking that which is not as if it is.  
How many of us can do that in the midst of catastrophe?  Within ourselves it would be
difficult but as Phillipians 4:13 says, I can do all things through Christ who strengthens
me.

When Jairus was with Jesus asking Him to come to heal his daughter and someone
came from his house to tell him his daughter was dead, Jesus told him not to be afraid,
only believe and she will be made well (Luke 8:50).  He didn't take a bunch of people
(doubters) with Him; only a few of his disciples.  When the people said she's dead, He
said she's only sleeping.  They thought He was in denial too!  Even laughed at Him, but
Jairus' daughter did get up.

Paul says in Phillipians 4:11-12, 11 Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have
learned in whatever state I am, to be content: 12 I know how to be abased, and I know
how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be
hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.  It is well!  In whatever state I am, it is well.  
That's something we should all strive to be, well, content in all things.

Do you remember the old hymn 'It is well with my soul'?  Do you know the story behind
the song?  The writer’s name was Horatio Gates Spafford. He was born on October 22,
1828, in Troy, New York. Mr. Spafford became a successful lawyer and real estate
investor in Chicago and was a friend of the great preacher DL Moody. His first tragedy
was the loss of his only son.  While he and his wife were still grieving for this loss, he
lost much of his real estate fortune in the great Chicago fire in October 1871. He spent
the next two years serving those who had suffered in the fire.

After serving those in need, Mr. Spafford decided to take a vacation to Europe with his
wife Anna and their four daughters. Business delayed him so he took his family to New
York and boarded them on a luxurious French ocean liner, the S.S. Ville du Havre. Mr.
Spafford planned to meet them later in Europe.

However, their ship never made it. At 2:00 a.m. on November 22, 1873, it collided with
an English iron sailing vessel, the Lochearn. The Ville du Havre sank in only 12
minutes. It was the greatest disaster at sea until the sinking of the Titanic. His wife
Anna survived by clinging to a piece of the floating wreckage, but his four daughters
were among the 226 people who perished. Anna sent her husband a telegram that
said “saved alone.”

Several weeks later on his way to join his grieving wife, Mr. Spafford’s ship passed the
spot where his four daughters had sunk to the depths of the sea. The loss of his real
estate fortune paled in comparison to the sudden and unexpected loss of his four
daughters and his earlier loss of his son.

Yet, in spite of all his grief, Mr. Spafford was inspired to pen the words to that famous
hymn “It Is Well with My Soul.” Can you imagine the tremendous grief that he must have
felt? Yet, his faith helped him to endure his trials and find the peace that passes
understanding.

When peace, like a river,
attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot,
Thou hast taught me to know,
“It is well, it is well with my soul”

Sermon by: Denise Baxley
Date: May 14, 2006
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Keep Pressing On Genesis 37:3-4 3 Now Israel loved Joseph more than all his children, because he was the son of his old age. Also he made him a tunic of many colors. 4 But when his brothers saw that their father loved him more than all his brothers, they hated him and could not speak peaceably to him. This is where the story of Joseph begins. He’s favored in his father’s house but hated by his brothers. He’s a dreamer who dreams lofty dreams that make his brothers hate him even more. Genesis 37:18-20 & 25-28 18 Now when they saw him afar off, even before he came near them, they conspired against him to kill him. 19 Then they said to one another, “Look, this dreamer is coming! 20 Come therefore, let us now kill him and cast him into some pit; and we shall say, ‘Some wild beast has devoured him.’ We shall see what will become of his dreams!” 25 And they sat down to eat a meal. Then they lifted their eyes and looked, and there was a company of Ishmaelites, coming from Gilead with their camels, bearing spices, balm, and myrrh, on their way to carry them down to Egypt. 26 So Judah said to his brothers, “What profit is there if we kill our brother and conceal his blood? 27 Come and let us sell him to the Ishmaelites, and let not our hand be upon him, for he is our brother and our flesh.” And his brothers listened. 28 Then Midianite traders passed by; so the brothers pulled Joseph up and lifted him out of the pit, and sold him to the Ishmaelites for twenty shekels of silver. And they took Joseph to Egypt. His brothers hated him so much they were going to kill him but decided to sell him into slavery. Can you imagine how Joseph felt? I can imagine him asking why they were doing this. He must have felt horribly rejected. I can’t even imagine how that would feel. So Joseph goes off into slavery and ends up in Potiphar’s household. His master saw that everything he put his hand to prospered so he ends up putting him in charge of everything in his house. The LORD exalts him here but again there is someone coming against him. Potiphar’s wife has her eyes set on this good-looking young man. She pursues him but he says no I can’t sin against God because you are my master’s wife. She has her own ideas though. Genesis 39:11-20 11 But it happened about this time, when Joseph went into the house to do his work, and none of the men of the house was inside, 12 that she caught him by his garment, saying, “Lie with me.” But he left his garment in her hand, and fled and ran outside. 13 And so it was, when she saw that he had left his garment in her hand and fled outside, 14 that she called to the men of her house and spoke to them, saying, “See, he has brought in to us a Hebrew to mock us. He came in to me to lie with me, and I cried out with a loud voice. 15 And it happened, when he heard that I lifted my voice and cried out, that he left his garment with me, and fled and went outside.” 16 So she kept his garment with her until his master came home. 17 Then she spoke to him with words like these, saying, “The Hebrew servant whom you brought to us came in to me to mock me; 18 so it happened, as I lifted my voice and cried out, that he left his garment with me and fled outside.” 19 So it was, when his master heard the words which his wife spoke to him, saying, “Your servant did to me after this manner,” that his anger was aroused. 20 Then Joseph’s master took him and put him into the prison, a place where the king’s prisoners were confined. And he was there in the prison. So here again Joseph is taken from a place of favor to a lowly place through no fault of his own. Once again he is rejected and cast out. In the prison, the keeper sees that the LORD is with Joseph and he ends up putting him in charge over the other prisoners. Again, he is elevated to a place of favor. If you don’t know the rest of the story you should read it some time. He eventually is called on to interpret the dreams of Pharoh and when he does it Pharoh is so impressed that he also exalts him to a level of favor over everything in Egypt except Pharoh himself. He’s put into a position where he is eventually able to save his entire family from the famine. He tells his brothers not to worry about what they’d done to him because although they meant it for evil, God was able to use it for good. Joseph went through a lot of things he would have preferred to avoid. As it turns out, every place he went was necessary to bring him to where he needed to be to be able to help his family. Joseph seems to have kept a good attitude throughout it all. You might ask me how I know that. Well, wherever he went the LORD’s favor went with him. The LORD is the same yesterday, today, and forever. 400 years later as Moses is leading His people out of Egypt they murmured and complained and God told Moses He would just zap them and start over with Moses children. God doesn’t like complaining. In the natural, Joseph had every reason to complain but he didn’t. Also, the fact that he was exalted everywhere he went says something about his attitude. If he were whining and crying about things not being fair he wouldn’t have been at his best and he wouldn’t have made everything his hand touched prosper. Let’s move on to someone else who has to deal with an unfair situation. Luke 22:38-44 39 Coming out, He went to the Mount of Olives, as He was accustomed, and His disciples also followed Him. 40 When He came to the place, He said to them, “Pray that you may not enter into temptation.” 41 And He was withdrawn from them about a stone’s throw, and He knelt down and prayed, 42 saying, “Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.” 43 Then an angel appeared to Him from heaven, strengthening Him. 44 And being in agony, He prayed more earnestly. Then His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground. Our Lord is in a very unfair situation. Having no sin He is to be made to bear the punishment for all sin on Himself. I’m sure He would have rather been in His Father’s house with favor, than to be getting ready to bear this great burden. He’s in such agony that He sweat drops of blood. Yet, He yields to the will of God. He presses on just as Joseph pressed on, just as we should press on in every situation. I have always loved my husband. Over the last four years the level of respect I have for him has grown immensely. I watch him wake up day after day while most are still snug in their beds and go off to a job he doesn’t enjoy. It a difficult job both mentally and physically. He comes home tired and dirty then he gets up the next morning and does it all over again. He presses on. He doesn’t do it just for his benefit but to benefit the whole family. Even on the days that he doesn’t want to play work, he presses on. As Paul writes to the Philippians: Philippians 3:12-14 12 Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. 13 Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, 14 I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Press on! Remembering that all things work together for good for those who love the Lord and are the called according to His purpose. Notice that I didn’t say all things are good. I’m going to borrow an analogy from Kent Hovind. Let’s say you come over to my house and you’re hungry. I say to you how about a cup of flour? Here’s a teaspoon of salt. How about a half cup of olive oil? Tasty, huh? A teaspoon of baking soda maybe a pat of butter. What? All those things are nasty? Well, how about we mix them all together and make some biscuits. See! They work together for good.
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