Seven Sneezes – Evidence of Life

Aug 17

Seven Sneezes – Evidence of Life

2 Kings 4:8-37 features a story about faith, expectation and evidence.

Elisha is God’s prophet, Elijah’s successor. He makes his rounds around the kingdom and stops off in various cities. He passes through Shunem often – often enough for a wealthy woman there to ask her husband to build a guest room for the prophet. Elisha and his servant, Gehazi, stay there often and one day he asks the woman, “What can we do for you?” She asks nothing in return for her hospitality, but Elisha promises her that the following year she will have a son.

She’s surprised by this, but her words sound hopeful. She tells him, “Don’t get my hopes up like that!” Scholars belief that this woman may have been about 200 years old at this time, and she had come to the conclusion that she would never have a child.

But true to the prophet’s word, she has a son the following year. The story jumps ahead in time, saying that the child grew and was in the fields with his father. We don’t know how old he is, but we know he’s not a man because he’s still referred to as a child. Something happens in the field – some scholars say sunstroke, some say a head injury or an aneurysm, because the child cries out, “My head, my head!” He’s taken back to his mother where he dies in her arms.

She leaves him on the bed in the guest room built for Elisha and asks her husband for a donkey. She needs to see the prophet. She doesn’t tell him their son is dead. She tells her husband everything is fine, yet she rushes to see Elisha.

The prophet sees her coming and sends Gehazi to her. She tells Gehazi they’re fine, but she continues forward until she is clinging to Elisha’s feet, telling him he needs to come home with her. Elisha knows she’s in distress and pain, but God keeps the reason from him. He sends Gehazi forward with his staff, telling him lay it on the boy’s face, and he follows with the woman.

They reach the house and Gehazi tells Elisha that the boy won’t awaken. Elisha knows now that the boy isn’t just sick – he’s dead. He goes into the room and prays. We don’t know for how long he prays, but after he prays he laid on the boy – eye to eye, hand to hand. The boy’s body grew warm and he sneezes seven times. Elisa rises and has the woman come get her son. The Bible says she takes her son and is full of gratitude.

This story was difficult for me to understand. Why did the woman rush to the prophet? Why would she have a son so late in life only for him to be taken away? Why didn’t God tell Elisha what the problem was? What was the meaning of the seven sneezes?

As I studied, I realized this story is about faith, expectation and evidence of God in our life.

Faith:

The woman had faith. She knew that Elisha was a prophet and he could help. She doesn’t tell her husband about the son. She just goes to Elisha on blind faith that he could help. She holds onto his feet and tells him he must come with her. Even in expressing anger at Elisha (Did I ask you for a son? Didn’t I say don’t get my hopes up?) she still has faith that he can help.

Our takeaway – Have faith that God can help and that He will, no matter the situation. Go to Him and hold on to Him in faith. Express your feelings – your doubt, your anger, your frustration – but don’t lose your faith.

Expectation:

The woman expected Elisha to help her. She went to him fully expecting him to come back with her and do something.

Our takeaway – Pray in expectation. Expect God to answer your prayers and the Holy Spirit to guide you.

Evidence:

The seven sneezes were evidence of life. Elisha had prayed, despite not hearing from God about the issue, and his prayers were answered with evidence of life. Sneezing is involuntary – we can’t control it. A sneeze – especially seven sneezes – was the perfect evidence that the boy lived.

Our takeaway – As you pray in expectation and follow the guidance from the Holy Spirit, God will show you evidence of your prayers being answered. It may be a phone call, it may be a Facebook post, it may be a song on the radio, but God will answer and you’ll see the evidence of His presence and life around you. It may be something simple, but it will be done in such a way as you KNOW it was God.

This wasn’t in my original study, but it jumped at me as I read this again. Gratitude. The woman was grateful for Elisha, even before he’d told her she would have a son, and she was grateful after he was healed. Gratitude is an important part of our walk of faith. Offering thanks isn’t just a one-time thing, and not to be given just after something good happens to us. Be thankful and have gratitude in ALL things. Make it a part of your life and you will see the changes begin.

 

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