“Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me.” (John 14:1)
Judas had just slunk out of the room to betray Jesus; their lord and master had just washed their feet; the disciples had just received the new commandment to love one another as He had loved them; having followed Him for three years they were told that they could now not go where He was going; and faithful, passionate Peter had just found out that he was about to deny knowing Jesus three times. Against this tumultuous setting Jesus tells them: “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me.”
If our hearts are troubled our faith is hindered. If we focus on Jesus we can find a path through our troubles, but if we focus on our troubles Jesus becomes remote. In 2 Kings 4: 19-37 we find the story of Elisha and the Shunammite woman. The son that had been born to her according to Elisha’s word had died. This was her only son, the vessel of all her hopes for the continuation of her family. Her heart had every cause to be troubled. But this is what we read is vs 21:
“And she went up and laid him on the bed of the man of God, shut the door upon him, and went out.”
She shut the door on him. Do we shut the door on our troubles, or do we let them invade our hearts? The Shunammite woman had one thing on her mind now, which was to run to the man of God:
“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.”
Shut the door on your troubles; run to the man of God. Let not your heart be troubled; believe in Jesus. Keeping that door closed is an act of the will, because troubles can come knocking very loudly. The woman’s husband said: “”Why are you going to him today? It is neither the New Moon nor the Sabbath.” And she said, “It is well.” Do we open the door by lamenting our difficulties, or do we saddle the donkey and run to Jesus, declaring with the hymn writer that “it is well, it is well, with my soul?”
“Therefore we will not fear,
Even though the earth be removed,
And though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;
Though its waters roar and be troubled,
Though the mountains shake with its swelling.
There is a river whose streams shall make glad the city of God,
The holy place of the tabernacle of the Most High.
God is in the midst of her, she shall not be moved;
God shall help her, just at the break of dawn.” (Psalm 46 2-5)
Elisha saw her coming from where he was on Mount Carmel, and sent Gehazi, his assistant, to her. “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.” She still refused to let her heart be troubled. Only when she had physically taken hold of Elisha’s feet did she speak of the death of her son. If we would only speak of our troubles when we are safely in the presence of the One who can either take them away or help us bear them, how much stronger our faith would be!
Elisha sent Gehazi ahead to lay his staff on the boy’s face, but the woman was adamant: “As the LORD lives, and as your soul lives, I will not leave you.” (vs. 30) Her trust was in the Man of God: not in his staff, not in his assistant. We need the presence of the Lord in our own lives, not just in the life of someone with a staff of ministry. She shut the door on her troubles, ran to Jesus (Elisha), took hold of him and stayed with Him until her child was restored to life. Not only did she believe, but she persevered in her faith. The writer to the Hebrews says:
”And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope until the end, that you do not become sluggish, but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises” (Heb 6: 11-12)
I think many of us are quick enough to run to Jesus, but instead of shutting the door on our problems we put them on the donkey and take them with us, telling everyone about them on the way. Instead of persevering in our faith and seeking Jesus, we persevere in our problems and He stays remote. Of course we pray. We are exhorted to pray at all times. (Eph. 6:18). When David was in the cave hiding from Saul, he wrote:
“I cry out to the LORD with my voice;
With my voice to the LORD I make my supplication.
I pour out my complaint before Him;
I declare before Him my trouble.
When my spirit was overwhelmed within me,
Then You knew my path.” (Psalm 142: 1-3)
God knew David’s path, and David knew that. But David always trusted God for His divine plan; he didn’t ask God to bless his own agenda. He didn’t carry it around on a donkey and ask God to bring it to life. When the Shunammite woman shut the door on her son she shut the door on the hopes and aspirations she had for his life. What she didn’t know was that a 7-year famine was coming to Israel; that God, through Elisha, was going to send her and her son away to live among the Philistines for that time so that they wouldn’t suffer; that Gehazi was going to tell her story to the King; and that when she came back she was going to have all her fortunes restored, including the value of any crops that were harvested during her absence. (2 Kings 8). God can always “do infinitely more than all we can ask or imagine. ” (Eh 3:20) Believing in Jesus means not letting our hearts be troubled by anxiety over our own agendas, but trusting Him to know our paths and fulfil His purposes, His way.
Many of us have “dead sons:” words that have been spoken into our lives that seem light years from being fulfilled. Many times we may have put them on the donkey and carried them to the Man of God, or gone for prayer and had the staff of someone’s ministry laid on their face, but life has not come. But Jesus says: “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me.” He doesn’t want us just to believe that God is able to answer our prayers: He wants us to shut the door on what has died and run after His presence, so that He can personally come and revive them Himself.