When Faith Stands Alone
Text: 2 Kings 4:18-37
Introduction: Boudreaux and His brother Lafayette
The gators had gotten so bad in Louisiana that the state was paying a bounty of $100 dollar for each gator that was shot and you could even keep the skin for some boots and the meat for a big pot of alligator jambalaya. Two Cajun brothers, Boudreaux and Lafayette decide to go gator hunting in the Atchafalaya swamp. They paddle around in their little boat for days and days but they can’t spot a single gator. Finally, one day they were out in the swamp so late that they decide to pull up the their little pirogue on an dry island and sleep till morning.
The build a fire and fall fast asleep. In the middle of the night, Lafayatte gets up to put more wood on the fire and as the flames kick up he looks out into the night and all around the camp are hundreds of alligators. He can see their eyes glowing and their teeth flashing as they creep toward the brothers.
Lafayette wakes up his brother. “Boudreaux, Boudreaux, man you better wake yo self up now!”
Boudreaux says, “What is you goin on about, Lafayette? We been up all day and I is tired!”
Lafayette says, “Boudreaux, you got to open up yo eyes and look around. We is goin to be rich!”
I really like that joke, because it takes something that could be very bad and turns it around into something, that at least in Layfette’s mind, is going to be real good.
The Crises of Faith - 2 Kings 4:18-21
And when the child was grown, it fell on a day, that he went out to his father to the reapers. And he said unto his father, My head, my head. And he said to a lad, Carry him to his mother. And when he had taken him, and brought him to his mother, he sat on her knees till noon, and then died. And she went up, and laid him on the bed of the man of God, and shut the door upon him, and went out.
Faith Versus Fact
Shunem: a little village in the tribe of Issachar, to the north of Jezreel and south of Mount Gilboa. South of Nazareth in the North and Samaria in the center of Israel. Shunem was about twenty miles northwest of Abel-meholah, Elisha’s hometown, and twenty-five miles or so beyond Shunem was Mount Carmel. The village of Shunem was the halfway point whenever Elisha went to Mount Carmel. Mount Carmel was special to Elijah because his mentor Elijah’s had his greatest victory of the prophets of Baal and Asherah there.
Of the all the miracles done by the prophet Elisha, these two miracle are the most detailed, 37 verses of 2 Kings 4 deal with the Shunamite woman and her son. The later, Elisha once again intervenes in their life chapter 8. There the woman is a widow raising her miracle child and Elizha warns her of a coming 7-year famine. The story of the woman, we only know as this Shunamite, is an amazing and touching story of faith, love, and God’s providence for those who serve Him and for those who provide for His servants.
With the death of her child, there was a crisis of faith. Her faith must overcome the facts that her child was dead. Her little boy, the proof of God’s love and power, was gone.
The crisis of faith was how to believe God in her heart, when with her eyes, she could see that God had failed her.
Faith Seen In Crisis
We must understand that faith is given us by God for those times when we are in crisis.
Isn’t this what Paul meant when he told us that faith is a shield, in Ephesians 6 :16 … taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.
If it is a shield then we must understand it was meant for battle. It requires no faith to stand in time of peace. "Faith is not seen until we are under attack.”
Illustration: Faith In The Storm
Do you remember when Peter walked upon the water to go to Jesus? Matthew 14:26-31 And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear. 27 But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid. 28 And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water. 29 And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me. 31 And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?
Without the wind and the waves Peter would never have needed to get out of the boat. Without the storm threatening to sink them all, Jesus would not have needed to come to them in their peril. Only when the storm threatened to destroy them did faith become the most important thing they possessed.
The truth is that there will always be crises in our life and storms in our path. The crises that you and I will face, the times when we will need faith as we have never needed it before, are those in which everything around us clearly tells us, "The promises of God were wrong. The power of God isn’t real. And the peace of God does not exist.”
The facts of our crisis, our catastrophe, our calamity cannot be denied, the reality of what we are facing is as obvious as the lifeless body of that child.
So, when faith stands alone, will our faith stand?
The Cry of Faith - 2 Kings 4:22-26
And she called unto her husband, and said, Send me, I pray thee, one of the young men, and one of the asses, that I may run to the man of God, and come again. And he said, Wherefore wilt thou go to him today? it is neither new moon, nor sabbath. And she said, It shall be well. Then she saddled an ass, and said to her servant, Drive, and go forward; slack not thy riding for me, except I bid thee. So she went and came unto the man of God to mount Carmel. And it came to pass, when the man of God saw her afar off, that he said to Gehazi his servant, Behold, yonder is that Shunammite: Run now, I pray thee, to meet her, and say unto her, Is it well with thee? is it well with thy husband? is it well with the child? And she answered, It is well.
Her cry, “It shall be well.”
In spite of her undeniable loss, the harsh reality of death, and the loss of her son, when Gehazi asks, “Is all well?” She replies, “It shall be well.” This is just one word in the Hebrew, the word, shalom, peace.
I don’t believe in this case that Shalom was just used as a word of greeting just to get past Gehazi. This was not just an unthinking spoken word. No, for when asked by Gehazi is all “shalom, it all peace for you and your family?” She replied, It shall be peace. This was her statement of her faith in God and in God's word through Elisha. “It shall be well!”
Her promised child was dead, but she believed, she had faith that despite the terrible loss and the terrible pain she was feeling, she could truthfully say, "It shall be well!"
Hear Our Battle Cry
Will we dare to believe God even when faced with the facts that tell us, God is wrong? Actually, Isn’t that what faith does? It dares to believe when it should be impossible to believe. This is the battle of faith we all must face.
Will we also be able to truly say, "It shall be well" when everything around says it is not well and may never be again.
Will we raise our battle cry of faith, even when sinking in a sea of doubt and fear? Will I overcome the facts of this sinful, hurtful world with faith in God’s Word, God’s promises and God’s love?
When my health is failing, Can I say to those that ask, "It shall be well?" When my bank account is empty, can I still say "It shall be well?" When trusted ones have betrayed me. When I've been fired from my job, When my marriage is failing, when my marriage has failed. When loved ones are taken away in death. When my church is struggling, when even God’s people aren’t faithful.
Will I still believe and say, “I don’t know when or how but I know, it shall be well.”
Faith is not denying or ignoring our doubts and fears. Faith is admitting the doubts and fears but still having faith in the Lord.
Aren’t you glad that John the apostle wrote to his “little children” and told them in 1 John 3:19-21 19 And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him. 20 For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things. 21 Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God.
God is greater than our doubting, fearful hearts. He is greater than the facts that seem to contradict His word. It is not about my inability it is about his ability.
Illustration: Help thou my unbelief
The Father of the demon possessed son comes to Jesus and his disciples in Mark 9, just as Jesus descends from the Mount of Transfiguration. The man asks for Jesus to show compassion to his son, who has never known a life free from this evil spirit.
Mark 9:23-24 -- Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth. 24 And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.
Then, the Bible says, Jesus rebuked the foul spirit and it left the man’s son never to return. Notice carefully, He rebuked the demon, but He did not rebuke the man for his confession of faith mingled with fear.
“Lord, I believe; please help me overcome my doubts, fears and unfaithfulness.” Help me to always be able to say, “It shall be well!”
In order for us to have faith that overcomes the crises, faith that looks past the facts, faith that overcomes even our own doubts, we must fully understand what that faith is, what it is built upon.
The Core of Faith - 2 Kings 4:27-30
27 And when she came to the man of God to the hill, she caught him by the feet: but Gehazi came near to thrust her away. And the man of God said, Let her alone; for her soul is vexed within her: and the Lord hath hid it from me, and hath not told me. 28 Then she said, Did I desire a son of my lord? did I not say, Do not deceive me? 29 Then he said to Gehazi, Gird up thy loins, and take my staff in thine hand, and go thy way: if thou meet any man, salute him not; and if any salute thee, answer him not again: and lay my staff upon the face of the child. 30 And the mother of the child said, As the Lord liveth, and as thy soul liveth, I will not leave thee. And he arose, and followed her.
Let’s look at how faith works in this mother, in Gehazi and especially in Elisha.
The mother’s faith is in the promise of the word of God. She goes to where she had placed her faith, in the promise of the man of God, who spoke the word of God. She does not know the outcome of this crisis, but she knows what her faith was based upon.
Gehazi’s faith is in obedience to the command of Elisha. When Gehazi acts it is because Elisha is his master and gives him a command. Elisha tells him, “Gird up thy loins and take my staff.” And his faith is seen as he acts. He girds up his loins, that means he gathered up the ends of his long robe, tied them around his upper thighs so they will not trip him and he takes off. I believe he runs all the way back, possibly a distance of 7 miles or more. He runs without saying a word to anyone and enters the prophet’s chamber where the child of promise was laying lifeless on the bed of the prophet, where the woman had place her son and her faith. He places the staff on the face of the child as Elisha had commanded but nothing happens. He then runs back and meets Elisha and the mother with this seemingly hopeless report, “The child is not awaked.”
It was going to take much more than a quick touch to restore this life.
Then we see Elisha’s faith at work when we pick up the story in 2 Kings 4:32-34 And when Elisha was come into the house, behold, the child was dead, and laid upon his bed. 33 He went in therefore, and shut the door upon them twain, and prayed unto the LORD. 34 And he went up, and lay upon the child, and put his mouth upon his mouth, and his eyes upon his eyes, and his hands upon his hands: and he stretched himself upon the child; and the flesh of the child waxed warm.
Elisha, this mighty prophet of God, goes in shuts the door and the first thing he does is …pray. He prays, because just like the child’s mother, he doesn’t know what is going to happen. Elisha who once made an iron axe head float like balsam wood, who once turned a pot of poison into a wholesome stew. Elisha, who multiplied a small meal so that it fed hundreds, who was able to see the invisible army of the Lord and to blind the seeing army of Syria. Elisha who told Naaman to wash away his leprosy in the muddy Jordan river. This great man of God was not told by God why this promised child had died or what would ultimately happen.
And so he did what all children of God do when they are confronted with the casualties and catastrophes of this sinful world, he got alone with God and he prayed. When he finished praying, he stretched his body upon the body of the dead child staying there so long that the flesh of the child began to warm. This was something that Elijah, his master, had done when the child of the widow of Zarephath had died and now Elisha does it again but even more fervently. This was not some form of resuscitation but was an extension of the prayer. Both prophets prayed with their words, prayed with their hearts and then, they also prayed with all of their physical being, as if willing life back into the empty body by holding the child close.
I wonder if James was thinking of Elisha praying in that upper room when he wrote, James 5:16 … The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.
The story finishes in 1 Kings 4:35... 35 Then he returned, and walked in the house to and fro; and went up, and stretched himself upon him: and the child sneezed seven times, and the child opened his eyes. 36 And he called Gehazi, and said, Call this Shunammite. So he called her. And when she was come in unto him, he said, Take up thy son. 37 Then she went in, and fell at his feet, and bowed herself to the ground, and took up her son, and went out..
Even after praying, even after warming the child’s flesh with his own body, the child still lay lifeless upon the bed. Not once did God tell Elisha anything. In this case faith was not based upon special revelation but upon the promise already given to the Shunamite woman. The reason Elisha kept trying and would not give up was because his faith was based upon his knowledge of the character of God. He knew the his God and he knew that his God did not lie or play games with people’s pain. Who God was, formed the core of his faith. And that faith would not accept the fact of a child taken after God had given His word.
Please listen, many people are failing as Christians because they really don’t understand what faith is. They don’t know its foundation and therefore it can’t be built up in their lives.
Faith is not our willpower. It does not grow strong simply because you wish it or try to force it.
Faith is not some kind of supernatural element or visualization. It doesn’t make things happen out of thin air or simply use your desires to bring something out of nothing. Though there are many sad heretics who teach such lies.
Nor is faith a simple generic, belief in God. A kind of “I believe God can do anything.”
What is faith then? Here is what the Bible teaches. Faith is a direct, active belief in God’s character, God’s love, God’s power and specifically God’s Word. Let me show you what the Bible tells us of our God.
God’s Character, who He is. The Bible says that God is the author and giver of all that is good.
God is good James 1:16-17 Do not err, my beloved brethren. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.
God, the Bible tells us is faithful in all his promises Hebrews 11:66 But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.
God reveals himself to us in His word and His word says, He is love.
1 John 4:16-19 And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him. Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear...
God Is unfailing in His Power and Providence. We must believe in God's Power and His plans, a power that will overcome the crisis we must walk through and providence that will supply our every need.
Romans 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
1 John 4:4 Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.
This is faith that overcomes the facts of a world that just doesn’t make sense, a world that seems to be out of control and rapidly spinning downward into hell. But if we have this faith, then we know and believe that God’s is still in control. We know and believe that God will always rule and reigns in the affairs of all men.
Finally, true, “It Shall Be Well” faith, is built upon God's Word.
And by God’s word I mean this written, in your hand, before your eyes, hidden in your heart, Holy Bible.
Once I heard a professor and Pastor preaching about faith and he mentioned a mound of asphalt that was on the back side of the church parking lot. And used it as an example. “If I had faith I could say to that mound of asphalt, be gone.” He went on, “If we can have faith to move mountains, why don't we see more land leveling?” Well I can tell you why, because nowhere in this book are we told to move a mound of asphalt in the parking lot much less Mt Everest.
True faith is based on the revealed word of God. This is the way, the only way I can know what I am to believe in and act in faith upon.
Psalms 119:80 Let my heart be sound in thy statutes; that I be not ashamed.
Romans 10:17 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. It’s true for my saving faith, and its true for my walking faith. That is what it says in …
Romans 1:17 For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.
When I know, what the Lord has said to me, as a New Testament, new covenant child of God, then my faith can face and overcome dangers, disappointments, depressions, degradations, and the despair of death.
Job, because He knew his Lord, had this kind of faith, in the depths of despair, confronted with the doubts of his family, his friends and even himself, still sounds the cry of faith in Job 13:15 “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him: …16 He also shall be my salvation”
What is your cry today?
Is it a cry of faith or of despair? Are you calling out, "Oh, Lord, why?" or "Oh, Lord. It shall be well."
Can you stand in that faith here at Calvary Baptist Church? Can you see a church with people filling the pews again? Can you see lives being touched, families being strengthened, missionaries being sent, people being changed by the power of God?
Can you believe “It shall be well” for your family? Even when faced with the sinful facts of this immoral time we live in? When facing the dangers, the drugs, the finances, the job of just staying together. Can you still say, "It shall be well."
Can you say it when looking at your life? Can you look at the things in the past and the prospects for the future and say, "It shall be well?"
Do you believe it for your soul? Can you look at the part of you, that only you and God can see and say, “No matter what happens in this world, today or tomorrow, or for eternity, I know, "It shall be well!"
If you know God, If you’ve read His word and if you’ve experienced His love through Jesus Christ, His son and your Savior, then you will know that even when faith stands alone, it stands strong.