1 Kings 17:17,18
And it came to pass after these things, that the son of the woman, the mistress of the house, fell sick; and his sickness was so sore, that there was no breath left in him. And she said unto Elijah, What have I to do with thee, O thou man of God? art thou come unto me to call my sin to remembrance, and to slay my son?
This may very be a real “Say what?” moment. Things have been tough on both Elijah the Prophet and the widow woman he has been living with. Elijah has spent a year camped out by a brook, alone save for a providing bird. The woman had been living alone with her son, watching the land grow dry and her food run out. Then Elijah had come along and things may have seemed to be looking up.
The woman’s son became very sick, and he died.There was no breath left in him. Here they were, being quite handily provided for by God, and He allows her son to die. What in the world could be going on here?
Previously we talked about what was going on in this house for perhaps as long as two years with Elijah and the widow woman. This woman was a gentile, and there is much thought that she was not a believer in God when she first encountered the Prophet Elijah. We know, since we know the end of the story, that God has big plans for Elijah. We know, because we know the end of the story, of the big contest between Elijah and the prophets of Baal which is coming soon. Elijah likely had no clue what was in his future. He was just a man doing what God was telling him to do.
In this case, all Elijah was doing was ministering to one woman, perhaps a woman who did not yet know The Lord. Later we will see the Lord bringing the boy back to life, but in the meantime, there is a lesson here.
God may have big plans for us, or He may not. He may have a showdown with the enemy in our future, or He may not. There are a couple of lessons here. First, perhaps God wanted to see how willing Elijah was to witness and minister to the seemingly most insignificant of souls before giving him additional challenges to face. Perhaps God’s only work in this house was to see the woman come to repentance and faith, and Elijah was the chosen tool.
How about us? Are we so concerned about the “big” plans God has for us that we forget the small plans count also? Are we wanting to get revived by a big hoopla in our church buildings with crowds, preaching, and music or are we willing to work the details of God’s plan person by person as Elijah did here? If we are only living for the big, high visibility plans, and don’t have time or inclination for the seemingly small plans, we may need reviving.
Why would God allow this to happen? Why, if He did, would He actually cause this to happen? That is a good question! First, we need to note that with God, there are no accidents. He either causes or allows all things, He is in control of His creation. So, we can’t deny God’s involvement in this unfortunate situation and write it off as merely happenstance. So, why?
Well, really we can only theorize, so I offer you mine. Remember, we aren’t really positive at what point this woman became a true believer in The Lord. It seems certain that when Elijah finished his business with her that she was, but perhaps she was not yet at this point.
I think we are comfortable that one reason Elijah was in this home was to minister to and teach this woman. We probably also agree that one way God teaches us is through trials. In other words, we are tested and taught by fire sometimes. Maybe by this point, the woman was a believer, but simply needed more development in her journey to spiritual maturity. She had certainly had proof that God would provide her physical needs, as the flour and oil continued to be refilled daily. Is is possible that she had become complacent with her daily needs being provided? Is it possible she considered herself safe from and immune to the trials and troubles facing those around her? After all, she had the prophet living with her. I welcome thoughts on this, by the way.
Perhaps what was needed her was another reminder of just how God is involved in our lives, and how He will take care of us in the ways that are in accordance with His will and our best needs. Perhaps the death of her son was needed to remind both Elijah and this woman of that simple and true fact.
So, what’s this got to do with us? Sometimes, especially in these times, we tend to be focused on the quick solution; we are a sound bite world. Sometimes, if we want to see change in the people around us or the world around us, we have to be willing to trudge through the little stuff to see the big stuff happen.
As we have covered, this event must have been quite a shock for both Elijah and the widow woman he was living with during this time. Here they were, contently being provided for by God in a very direct way, and suddenly for no apparent reason her son dies. Reams of commentary has been written about the whys of this, and reams have been written about the meaning of it. More have been written about the woman’s reaction to her son’s death.
Was she saved? Was her statement about her sin conviction? So on and so forth it goes. A while back, I got a great comment from another blogger that provides an explanation for this event that I really liked. Ben over at Another Red Letter Day had the following to say:
Sometimes we ask why things happened, rather than looking at what God can do in our circumstances. Our Lord who makes all things work together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purposes told the disciples they were asking the wrong question in John 9. I love how the Message Bible puts it:
Jesus said, “You’re asking the wrong question. You’re looking for someone to blame. There is no such cause-effect here. Look instead for what God can do. John 9:3-4
Jesus ignores the cause and works the work of God to bring Glory to Him. Perhaps the same principal is at work here. It may not have been anything the woman did, or needed, that brought this tragedy into her life, but the circumstance created a place for God to bring glory to Himself, through a man willing to pray. Elijah was a man, made of the same stuff we’re made of, but he knew the power of prayer (according to James.)
Good stuff huh? Sometimes the things that happen to us really aren’t about us in the first place. Maybe they are there for the sole and only purpose of allowing God to show his great mercy and grace and bring glory to Himself.
Next: A life returns