When I was four or five years old, I was reading through “The Picture Bible” (still one of my favorite renditions of Bible stories) and decided that my favorite Bible story was the one in Second Kings Chapter four, where Elisha saves a widow’s sons from being sold into slavery. The woman has absolutely nothing that she can use to pay her debts. She goes to the prophet Elisha, who asks her what she has. “Nothing but a little oil,” she answers. He tells her to borrow jugs and bowls from her neighbors and start pouring the oil — which lasts until the very last jug has been filled. It’s enough to pay off the debt and live off the remainder.
It’s an awesome story and still one of my favorites.
But Second Kings Chapter four has another story, which has not one but two miracles. It has become one of my favorites as well. It is a tale of amazing faith. I call it the “It is Well” story.
Elisha the prophet often passed through a place called Shunem. A woman of the town invited him for a meal and suggested to her husband they set aside a room in the house with a bed and a table and other furnishings so that the prophet would have a place to stay whenever he passed through.
In appreciation, the prophet asked her what she wanted. “I’m good,” she answered. I could picture myself saying something like that. But in reality, she had a dream … a dream she had pretty much let go of by that time. She wanted a baby.
Elisha found out from someone else that she was childless and next time he saw her, he promised her that this time next year, she would be holding her son.
And so she was. Her dream had come true.
But one day, while working long and hard in the fields, the boy’s head started to hurt. He went home and died while resting on his mother’s lap.
Her son. Her dream come true. Dead.
Without a word to anyone, she asked her servant to take her to Elisha. He saw her coming afar off and sent his servant to ask if everything was okay. Her answer?
It is well.
Her only child had just died. I could think of nothing worse happening in my life than losing a child. But she answered, “It is well.”
Perhaps, like Abraham with Isaac, she knew exactly where her son came from: God, who holds the power of life and death within His hands. She knew He had the power to bring Him back, if it was His will. And so she answered, “It is well.”
And it was.
The boy rose from the dead. The mother’s dream woke up and breathed and she embraced him.
“It is well.”
On Saturday I will share the story of the man who wrote the hymn “It is Well with my Soul.” In the midst of deepest sorrow, he also spoke those words of faith in God.
Not everyone will have their dreams returned to them. And few will understand why, in this world, such things happen. But one day, they will be rewarded for simply trusting that it is well. One day …
“When our faith shall be sight
The clouds be rolled back like a scroll
The trump shall resound
And the Lord shall descend
Even so … it is well with my soul.”