Prospective parents spend hours discussing and researching the right name for their little ones. Countless books and websites as well as friends and family are full of
helpful suggestions, opinions and ideas. Your name identifies who you are but actually tells very little about the whole person. Due to marriage, divorce and remarriage, my name, like the names of many other women, has actually changed a few times. Unless a person is really important to you or it is someone you see frequently, their name is easily and quickly forgotten.
The book of 2 Kings, tells of a woman of Shunem. This woman is mentioned in Chapters 4 and again in Chapter 8; we are never told her name, she is referred to always and only as “the Shunammite”.
She is a prominent woman but we are not told how this came to be (2 Kings 4:8). She is hospitable, inviting Elisha to dine and building a small room for his exclusive use when he is in her neighborhood (2 Kings 4:10). She is content; when Elisha asks how he can repay her kindness she asks for nothing. She is childless and her husband is elderly; Elisha tells her she will embrace a son next year (2 Kings 4:16). She is courageous, calm, and determined, when her son dies, she tells no one and rides quickly to Elisha (2 Kings 4:20 – 27). She is humble and grateful; Elisha comes to her home, restores her son to life; she falls at his feet in gratitude (2 King 4:37). Some time passes and Elisha warns the Shunammite woman to leave her home and find a new place wherever she can; a seven-year famine is coming. She is wise and obedient; she does not hesitate, she leaves immediately and settles in the land of the Philistines for seven years (2 Kings 8:1, 2). She is bold, upon her return she appeals to the King for the return of her house and property (2 Kings 8:3). She is honest, the King, hearing about her, asks her to tell her story; her story matches what he had been told and the King not only restores her property but orders that she be given any produce from the seven years she was away (2 Kings 8:6)
In a time of plenty, the Shunammite is generous. In a time of sorrow, she is purposeful and controlled. Given a gift she is grateful, given advice she listens. During a time of want she is not afraid but takes practical and decisive action. She is known, recognized, recorded and remembered as a woman with no name but of vast integrity. I believe God purposefully does not tell us her name because He wants the focus on what matters; on her actions and character. She could be “Anywoman”. The story of this woman without a name makes me wonder how people would describe me. I pray that my character is worthy of remembrance and imitation long after my name is forgotten and that God would transform me from the inside out, conforming me to His image. I know that when I get to heaven God will give me a new name, the perfect name – I can’t wait!
He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, to him I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, and a new name written on the stone which no one knows but he who receives it. Revelation 2:17