Prince Charming – Infertility
Written by Major Susie Erickson
In II Kings 4:8–37, I found a woman whose story is similar to mine. She was a well–known, older woman with the gift of hospitality. She seemed to be happily serving the Lord by extending friendliness and openness to those around her. She lavished love on her husband and enjoyed doing life and ministry with him.
One day she met God’s prophet Elisha and invited him to come have a meal in her home. Elisha savored any opportunity to put his feet under her table. He became a frequent guest in her home. When she built a small room on the roof, it became a second home for him. He had a place to stay whenever he came to town.
Elisha was grateful for her hospitality and desired to give her a nice gift. A box of fine European chocolates seems like an appropriate hostess gift to me, but Elisha pondered a more personal gift. He offered his influence with Israel’s king, but she declined his offer. Her people took care of her. She had what she needed. Elisha asked his servant for gift ideas for her generous hospitality. He replied, “She has no son, and her husband is old. Secure her future by giving her a son.”
They discovered the perfect gift. He called her to the room and prophesied, “About this time next year you shall embrace a son.” Her response is surprising to the heart of the barren, “No, my lord,” she objected. “Please don’t lie to me, O man of God.” Do you hear the hidden meaning in her words? Those who have ridden the rollercoaster of infertility, experienced the silent pain of miscarriage, or held stillborn babies in their arms understand what she is saying. “Please don’t get my hopes up because I can’t bear being disappointed again.”
She had what she needed, but her reaction tells us there was an unfulfilled desire in her heart. A place where fear stood guard over her hopes and dreams. While she had dealt with the pain, the wound was too raw for the salt Elisha poured out with his prophecy. Her reaction said, “I’ve given up my dream for a child, please don’t get my hopes up.”
After years of a childless marriage, she held a baby boy in her arms just as Elisha had prophesied. She was charmed by the little prince in her arms. She counted his ten little fingers and toes to make sure they were all there. But just when she let her guard down, calamity knocked on the door. The boy was helping his father in the fields when he suddenly became ill. His father carried him home and placed the boy in his mother’s lap where he died. Without a word, she carried his limp body to the prophet’s room and laid him on Elisha’s bed. She summoned a servant and left at once for Mount Carmel. Spotting her in the distance, the prophet instructed his servant to meet her. She was not settling for a stand–in. She came to see the prophet.
She dreamed of having a son, but the dream died a long time ago. Gnarly vines had overtaken the place where hopes and dreams once grew. Calamity was always lurking in the shadows for any point of entry. She kept her heart guarded. She told the prophet not to get her hopes up. He opened Pandora’s box the day he cut the vines away from the entrance of her heart. The vines formed a barrier over a dungeon hidden in what was once an enchanted garden. In the deep recesses of the dungeon was a girl who longed to be a mother. Light shone around the edge of a window above her, but it was always just beyond her reach. Elisha took the skeleton key and placed it in the lock. He gently turned the key until it clicked. He removed the heavy chain and opened the secret passageway to all her hopes and dreams. He had promised her a son and it happened. She had tasted motherhood, experienced the softness of a newborn’s skin against her breast. She experienced freedom, and this was one promise the enemy would not steal from her. She would not go back in the dungeon.
Elisha went to her home, climbed the steps leading to his rooftop room, and closed the door. As the Shunammite woman stood outside, the light peeking underneath the door reminded her of the window in the dungeon where infertility held her captive. The memories of enslavement flooded her mind. She tried to hope, but month after month the heartbreak grew with intensity when Mother Nature whispered, “You are not enough.”
When a battle is long, weariness tempts you to believe the lies of the enemy. She grew fatigued in the fight. She was tired of trimming vines. In no time at all, the vines overtook her. Over time she gave up her dream of having a child. She learned to be content in the confines of the walls surrounding her. Life happened and she made the best of her circumstances. The prophet of God helped her to hope again. He unlocked the door to freedom when he cut the ancient vines away. Sprouts from the ancient vine brushed against her neck. The memories flooding her mind brought back familiar fears. The same fears that kept her hopes and dreams just beyond reach during the years of enslavement were threatening to wrap their tentacles around her neck. She would not stand still and allow the vines of worry and fear to extend their reach to her heart as her son lay lifeless and still on the other side of the door. No, she would stand guard. Watch. Pray. And hope for a miracle with all her might. As the door cracked open, light shined through once again on a dark place in her soul. Hope burst forth like a new dawn when Elisha said, “Come get your son.”