When Death Isn’t Final

By Courtney Lee

This summer on the Equip Her Blog, we are focusing on three distinct concepts: Restore, Revive, and Renew. Last month, we had some amazing authors write about what that first concept, “restore,” means and looks like in accordance with Scripture. (Read those HERE and HERE and HERE.) For the month of July, our theme is “revive” and we will do the same. Revive means to bring back to life. The questions we will consider this month are: “Was there something dead inside of you that has been revived?” “Has God’s Word been speaking to you about new life and growth?”

To begin this month’s journey, we will take a look at one little boy’s story from the Old Testament. His account is taken from II Kings 4 and is imagined from his point of view. (CLICK HERE for the full Bible text of this story.) Do we still believe God can make dead things come alive?  This is the story of the Shunammite Son. . . . Enjoy! 

I’m not sure what I like better—watching mama work in the house or being outside with papa. Mama tells me more stories and gives me more treats . . . but papa lets me ride on his shoulders sometimes. We live in a house in Shunem, near Mount Moreh. 

I like living in the city but being close to the countryside as well. It’s only a short walk to get to the fields from our house. Our house is on the main road so we see all the comings and goings of people traveling in and out. I also love when we take day trips to the Jordan River Valley or over to Mt. Carmel and then stand on the shore of the Great Sea. 

Mama says I’m her miracle boy. I think it has something to do with the extra room built above our house. A holy man stops by to rest and eat every so often and only he gets to stay in there. 

Mama says I was his idea. 

He knew I was to be before mama even knew to ask. 

I’m not sure what all that means so I just nod my head mostly when she tells me the story. Sometimes telling it makes her face wet, so I usually try to do something silly to change the subject. “Happy tears, son, happy, happy, happy…” she always says and pulls me up onto her lap. I’m almost getting too big for her lap now, but I love it there. She has the best lap of all the laps.

Today, though, I get to go visit my father. He is working with the harvesters, and I get to go watch and maybe even help a little! I’m very excited! Papa says I’m getting to the age where I need to spend less time on mama’s lap and more time learning how to be a man. Mama is worried about me, but I will be fine! The field is only a few miles away and I’ve walked there myself many times. She packs me some bread and tells me to be careful, kissing my cheek as we say good-bye. 

I grab my walking stick and set out along the road leading out of the city. I see Mount Moreh in the distance, thinking about the time we climbed to the top as a family! We could see the whole valley from up there but try as I might, I could not find our house from that view! Everything was so tiny. 

I kick a rock for a while, squinting at the already hot sun in the sky today. It was then that I realized I forgot to grab a water jug from the well. Ah well, surely there will be a well nearby and I can drink once I get there. 

I see a lizard hop into the grass ahead of me and I follow it, forming a new trail, finally catching it and putting it in my pocket. I hope it will stay put until I get home so I can show mama. 

Back on the road now, I’m getting closer. I see papa and the other men. 

Boy, it was hot out today. 

I’m wet with sweat and a lot more tired than I thought I would be for a couple mile walk. 

But I made it! 

I wave to papa and he gives me a nod. There is no shade but I find a rock to sit on to rest for a little bit. Papa is right. It’s time for me to start learning how to be a man, how to work, how to provide. I watch the men—studying their movements, figuring out the steps, and learning all there is to know. 

Then I feel a little movement in my pocket and remember my lizard! If I’m this hot, the little guy must be suffocating. I reach in and bring him out—poor, limp thing. I put my hand over his back and give him a little rub, trying to wake him up. I find some grass in the cool of the ground and put him down. I put my head on the dirt next to him—willing him to be okay, blowing on his face a bit to see if that will help. It takes a couple seconds, but he starts moving again. Whew! I didn’t kill a lizard today. That’s good. And mama will be happy not to have to clean out a dead lizard from my pocket. 

I wait for the harvesters to take a water break, to show me where the well is to draw up a drink, but they never do. They just keep right on working. So I wander a little closer to papa. He’s a hard worker and I don’t want to disturb him. 

I wonder if someday I will be as strong as him! I feel my own muscles, flexing to see if my arms have any more bulge to them, imagining how it would feel to be super strong! Strong like my dad! That’s what I want! 

Suddenly, I feel a searing pain come into my head like a thousand knives stabbing me. I drop to my knees and cry out so papa can hear me, “Papa! My head hurts! My head hurts! PAPA!” He comes quickly and calls one of the servant men to carry me home to my mother. 

I’m so hot and my head hurts so bad. I try to hold on to the man carrying me but it is so bumpy and I feel so weak. I don’t remember much from the trip home, but I do remember him handing me over to mama and fitting me into her lap. She holds me and rocks me and puts a cool cloth on my forehead and whispers prayers over and over and over. I don’t feel better, but I know I am safe in her arms.  

And then all at once everything goes black. 

The next thing I know I am in the holy man’s room and feel his presence over me—his mouth on mine, his eyes on my eyes, and his hands on my hands. As I wake up, I sneeze seven times and open my eyes. 

What is happening here? 

I’m not exactly scared but I am very confused. 

I’m never allowed in this room. 

Why am I here? 

Why is that holy man on top of me when I wake up? 

Where is mama? 

My eyes must give me away. The holy man asks the other man to go get my mama and she comes in just as I sit up in bed. Mama rushes to the holy man, in the room she built for him, and falls at his feet. She just keeps weeping and thanking him, over and over and over again. Wiping her wet face, she picks me up and carries me downstairs. 

Mama again calls me her miracle boy— “Not just once but TWICE!” she says. 

I think about the lizard that was in my pocket earlier today. 

I guess not everything that looks dead has to stay that way. 

“I guess not everything that looks dead has to stay that way.” Sisters. This statement wrecks me. 

I think about my own heart and how good and passionate and creative parts of it have died. 

I think about the effects of Covid 19 and the death it has brought upon our world and how it has destroyed life and industry and economy and cities. 

I think about marriages and friendships and how they can go from distant to done to divorce. 

I think of churches that have broken apart and dislocated from the heart of God. 

I think of leaders teetering on the edge of burnout from facing crises after crises after crises just needing a minute to disengage . . . from all of it. 

I think about the defiance of American democracy and the dangerous politicization of this country, deepening the divide in overt darkness. 

See, the thing about death is that it focuses us on the event itself. And death is worthy to be mourned. Death deserves its own space—a time to process before we proceed. 

But what we also know to be true is that all throughout the Bible, God shows us that not everything that looks dead has to stay that way. Not with the Shunammite boy, nor the daughter of Jairus, not with the adulterous woman nor the Samaritan woman, not with David & Bathsheba, or Joseph, and definitely not with Jesus. 

What Elisha did with the Shunammite boy is what Jesus does for us. He lays His life on top of ours, bringing us back to life with the same power He used to raise Himself from the dead. He conquered death because He could, because He knew we could not, and because He knew it was the only way. 

So when we’re looking at the dead parts of ourselves, wondering if the spark is ever going to come back, let’s trust that Jesus can make a way for life again. 

When we’re struggling with the effects of Covid 19 and wonder if we’re ever going to come back from this, let’s trust that Jesus can rebuild. 

When we’re wondering if things are ever going to get better between me and so-and-so, let’s remember that Jesus is the great reconciler and in Him, we can find healing.

When we’re not sure about church anymore, not knowing if we can darken the doors even one more time, let’s look to God and be reminded that He knows. He sees. And He loves His bride with an everlasting love. Let’s leave the sorting out to Him. 

When we as leaders feel like we can’t do one more crisis, let’s take it to the Lord in prayer, trusting in Him to fill us up when we are well beyond empty. 

When we think about America and democracy and politics, may we remember that our beloved country is not the Kingdom of God, and it’s well within His sovereignty to take care of the rising and falling governments of this world.

Not everything that looks dead has to stay that way, friends. 

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