STUDY | Spend the week studying 2 Kings 4:8–37 and 8:1–6. Consult the commentary provided and any additional study tools to enhance your preparation.
DETERMINE | Which discussion points and study questions will work best for your group.
PRAY | Pray for our pastors and this week’s message, the upcoming group time, your group members, and their openness to God’s Word.
LANDING POINT | My heavenly Father is always working to satisfy, comfort, and restore me.
Remember the 4 Rules for Small Group Discussion
- Confidentiality. What’s said in the group stays in the group.
- No cross-talk. Be considerate of others as they share. Refrain from side conversations and texting during group time.
- No fixing. We are not in the group to fix each other. Jesus does that part.
- Sharing. Be sensitive to the amount of time you share. Don’t talk too much or too little. Every person brings something valuable to the group.
As your group time begins, use this section to introduce the topic of discussion.
OUT OF THE OFFICE
Tim spent weeks on this project, often working late into the night. Finally, it was near completion. Tomorrow morning he would present to the president of the company. He had just one problem. He needed some critical information from someone in another department. So he sent her an email. His heart sank when he got an immediate reply: “I’m out of the office this week on vacation. I’ll return on Monday.”
Do you ever feel like God is out of the office and unavailable when you need Him? That relationship isn’t getting better. It’s getting worse. The change you hoped for isn’t happening. You’re still coming up empty on the job hunt. The sorrow and hurt you thought would eventually pass still hovers over you like a dark cloud all the time.
Q: Where do you most see God’s presence in your life right now? Where does He seem absent or inattentive to your prayers?
A FATHER’S LOVE
Some situations and seasons in life can make us feel small and forgotten. In those times we might wonder, “God are you there? Do you care?” Jesus came to show us that God is a Father who knows and cares for His children. He knows the deepest desires of your heart, and there isn’t a longing or need He isn’t aware of. As a child of God, Jesus gives you hope that your Heavenly Father is always working to satisfy, comfort, and restore you, even in your darkest hour. This week your group will discuss a time when God worked in the life of a Shunamite woman to do just that.
Q: How does seeing God as a loving Father change the way you approach Him with your needs and desires?
Select 2-3 questions to discuss as a group.
A DESIRE FULFILLED AND SHATTERED
One day Elisha went to the village of Shunem, where he met a wealthy woman who invited him in to share a meal together, a sign of hospitality and friendship in those days. As he traveled, Elisha often shared a meal with this woman and her family. Impressed by this prophet, the woman asked her husband to make a guest room for him. Moved by her hospitality, Elisha offered to repay her. He was politically connected and could speak on her behalf to the king or the commander of his army. But the woman didn’t need their help. What she truly desired was a son. So Elisha told her that by that time the next year she would hold a son. The woman, in disbelief, said, “Don’t lie to me.”
But the prophet’s words proved true and the woman gave birth to a son. Years passed and the child grew. One day the child came to his father, complaining of great pain in his head. The father acted quickly, taking the son to his mother. But nothing could be done. The child died in the woman’s arms and she wept in great grief and pain.
Read: 2 Kings 4:8–37 and 8:1–6. How would you describe the Shunamite woman’s faith in the story?
Q: How do you typically react to God when you face difficulty and disappointment? What does that reveal to you?
SON AND LAND RESTORED
The woman thought about the holy man of God, her friend Elisha. Maybe he could do something to save her son. The Shunamite woman, brave and undeterred, went on a mission to find her friend. When she found him, she fell at his feet, crying out, “I told you not to deceive me! My son is dead!” After a failed attempt by Elisha’s servant Gehazi to raise the child, the prophet came and prayed over the child, laid hands on him, and waited. Soon life reentered the child and he was restored to his mother.
Later the woman reappeared in Elisha’s story. A great famine was coming to Israel as a sign of God’s judgment. So Elisha told the woman to take her household and go to wherever she could in order to avoid it. When the woman returned to Shunem after seven years, she discovered her land had been taken. She had to do something. By divine providence, when Gehazi was talking to the king about Elisha’s miracles, the woman appeared to make her appeal. The king was so moved that he restored her land as well as the income she would have received in those seven years.
Q: How did God work through Elisha in the story?
Q: Where do you need restoration in your life currently?
Select 2-3 questions from this section to answer.
YOUR DEEPEST LONGINGS
The Shunamite woman longed to have a son. To be childless was a great fear for a woman in her culture. Her husband wasn’t getting any younger and neither was she. She spent years with that desire unmet. She had little hope, but her desire remained and she took it to God.
God knows the deepest longings of your heart. God gave you good desires that 1) He wants you to express in healthy ways and 2) only He can satisfy. But there’s a problem—sin. Sin pushes you to go elsewhere to satisfy those desires, which always ends in disappointment. When you try to satisfy your longings with anything or anyone other than God, sooner or later you will be let down.
Q: What does your heart long for most right now?
Q: In what ways has sin pulled you elsewhere to satisfy your desires?
HOPE IN THE DARKNESS
Those who have lost a child know it’s one of the most painful things you can experience. The Shunamite woman was in her darkest hour, and God was right there with her to bring comfort and restoration. He miraculously raised her son from the dead. Later God restored this woman’s land and wealth to her as well.
Jesus Christ, the Light of the world, defeated the darkness of sin, Satan, and death. Jesus experienced His darkest hour on Calvary. The Father endured the pain of giving His Son over to death. This Son was also raised back to life. The gospel is a story of how God restores to you all that sin, Satan, and death have taken from you. He does this through the finished work of Jesus. This is a story that can give you hope in your darkest hour.
Q: Recall a dark time in your life. What did you learn about yourself? What did you learn about God?
Q: What are some practical ways to remind yourself that the gospel gives you hope as you face dark and difficult times?
Select 1 question from this section to ask your group.
GOD’S RESTORATION PROJECT
God is doing a restoration project in you and through you. Daily, God is working to restore you so that you can enjoy His best and be the man or woman He created you to be. This is known as sanctification. He has also given you a role in His kingdom project. This restoration project is cosmic in scale. Jesus, the King of kings, is restoring all things to their original beauty and purpose.
You play a significant role in God’s restoration project. You are Jesus’s hands and feet in the world. You show others what it’s like to follow Jesus and put your ultimate hope in Him. God wants to spread a joy for His name to others who don’t yet know Him or trust Him as Savior and King. And He wants to do it through you.
Q: Imagine what you would be like if you were fully restored. What would be different about you?
Q: Why is it important to understand that God’s restoration project extends beyond you and your faith?
Pray for faith to live each day with the belief that God alone satisfies your deepest longings, comforts you, and is restoring you to be the man or woman you were created to be.
Midway through this week, send a follow-up email to your group with some or all of the following:
- Read Romans 8:18–30 and reflect on how God is restoring all things—including you—by working all things for your good and His purposes.
- Ask the group to share any stories or lessons learned where they see God at work in their lives.
Elisha is referred to as a “man of God” no fewer than thirty times in the Bible. He was a prophet, a messenger of God commissioned by God to influence Israel’s leaders to obey Him and be a “kingdom of priests” who show the world what God is like (see Exod. 19:6). Elisha had enormous authority and influence as an advisory to kings. In fact, he was sought out by them (2 Kings 3:10–12). This much is obvious from the stories related to the Shunamite woman. “Although he does not prophesy in long speeches in the same fashion as the writing prophets (such as Jeremiah and Ezekiel), his communications to officials on behalf of the Lord shape the course of Israel’s history.”1
A Childless Mother
The Bible gives multiple examples of childless women, who endured the shame and heartache of infertility and saw God’s miraculous provision to give them a son. Those examples include: Abraham and Sarah, Elkanah and Hannah, Monoah and his wife, and Zechariah and Elizabeth.2 Paul cites Abraham as an example of faith because he did not weaken or waver in faith regarding the promises of God to make him the father of many nations (Rom. 4:18–20).
When the Shunamite woman found him at Mt. Carmel, Elisha confessed that he was unable to predict what would happen in the woman’s life (“the LORD has hidden it from me,” 2 Kings 4:27). Prophets in the Bible were not omniscient; they were always dependent on God to reveal things to them in His perfect timing, just as we depend on God to do the same in our lives today.
1. Amy Balogh, “Elisha the Prophet,” ed. John D. Barry et al., The Lexham Bible Dictionary (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2016).
2. Paul R. House, 1, 2 Kings, vol. 8, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1995), 267.