In 1 Kings 17 we see Elijah come to the home of a widow in Zeraphath and ask her to give him everything that she had. “Give me everything,” Elijah said, “and God will feed both you and your son. Submit to the Word of the LORD and the jar of flour you own will not be used up neither will the jug of oil run dry.” Out of faith the widow submitted and God did not let her down. Everyday she was miraculously fed. Everday the widow say the power of God at work in her home. The miracle was a sign from the Almighty God that he was present in this widow’s home and he was protecting her and her son with His almighty hand. Each day and hour that went by was proof of a special protection that went beyond human capacities. All around her people were succumbing to the famine but after Elijah had entered her home, the power of Israel’s God sustained her, the life of her son, and the life of the prophet. God was with her protecting her and sustaining her just as Elijah had said he would. The widow was resting in the shadow of the almighty and trusting his goodness.
Then it happened. Almost the unthinkable happened. The son of the widow became ill; so ill that there was no more breadth in him. The widow’s son died. This death no doubt shattered the widow’s sense of security she had had in the strong arm of God. Consider this widow of Zerapheth. She helped the prophet Elijah. She had always been generous to him and fed him. As a result of this incredible hospitality to Elijah she was blessed with food and oil but now her son was dead. It was as if God’s blessing had gone and her absolute worst feelings were realized. Why would God allow this to happen? The widow had trusted God with her lively hood and now God was taking away the thing she loved more than anything else in the world. You can see her raising her fists to the Almighty and crying out in anguish, “You can have your flour and oil but don’t take my son!” Her heart was broken and her world was shattered. You see, she knew the drought was coming in verse 9, but she did not know death was coming in verse 17. She is placing blame everywhere. She blames Elijah for seemingly bringing this judgment from God to her home. She even blames past sins for the pain and suffering she is now experiencing. From the widow’s point of view it surely must have seemed that God had deceived her. She had been promised life, but she received death. The Lord had pulled the rug out from her. He had knocked down her crutches. God promised life and gave death.
Both the widow and Elijah were rocked with the tragedy they now faced. Why? Why did God have to take the widow’s son? What is the message God is bringing by this sad event?
What an effect this must have had on Elijah. He has trusted God to feed him with ravens. He has trusted God to give him water from a measly little brook. When the brook dried up and the ravens stopped coming he followed God’s leading and suffering the humiliating thought of being fed by a widow. He had trusted God and miracles had happened. He had seen the impossible happen. He had even watched as God worked in a little pagan widow woman’s heart and brought her to a place of faith so strong she was willing to give him her last bit of food. Now, this woman’s son is dead and she is pointing the finger of accusation straight at him.
Like the widow Elijah also struggled to find an answer. He cried out with anguish to God, “O LORD my God, have you brought tragedy also upon this widow I am staying with, by causing her son to die?” (1 Kings 17:20). Elijah’s heart was touched by the pain this widow was now experiencing. He took the child from the widow’s arms and gently carried him upstairs. There he struggled and prayed with the Lord. Alone in the upstairs of this widow’s home he cried out to his God. He stretched his body over the lifeless body of the child three times and cried out, “O Lord my God, let this boys life return to him!” (1 Kings 17:21). Elijah’s world has been turned upside down. Can God really raise someone from the dead? Elijah is asking God to do something he has never done. There is absolutely no record of any dead person every being raised from the dead up to this point. This is an amazing prayer of faith that Elijah is praying. Elijah places everything on the line. He trusts God for the unseen and unknown.
In 1 Kings 17:21-24 we read of the triumphant resolution to our story. These verses tell us the wonderful news that Elijah received the object of his faith. God honored the faith of His prophet and brought back to life the son of the widow. When Elijah carried the child up the steps all he had in his arms was a dead body. When he came back down he was holding a living miracles.
Both the widow and Elijah were left with a problem: why did God take the widow’s son, why did he take the boys life, what is the message of this tragic event? God was teaching them both that you can trust Him even in the darkest of trials.
Someone might cynically say that God may have comforted the widow by raising her son from the dead, but what about us? What about our dead? What about our pain and suffering? July 27,2013 forever changed my life. I watched as a bus carrying my brother and sister-in-law careened into concrete barrier right in front of me. In that instant God took both Chad and Courtney and their little baby girl to heaven. As I read a story like the one in I Kings 17 I can’t help but struggle and hope that God would once again touch down and raise people from the dead. But the point of 1 Kings 17 is that this resurrection of the widow’s son was only a temporary reversal of the natural order of death and decay. This boy was raised but he was raised again to a natural life. He still would have to live in a disordered and broken world. He would grow old in this world and he would eventually die.
The point of this story is not that for God to comfort us, He must personally enter each life and tragic situation and perform such temporary reversals. The point is that Jesus Christ had entered into the world as God, and that even this miracle was just a indication of the greater and conclusive reversal God was bringing into the turmoil of a sin-filled world. This miracle is just a proof that God has entered the world and begun the progression of gathering and regenerating this world from sin. Jesus own resurrection from the dead to a truly glorified and eternal body rather than a natural body was the first true and permanent resurrection.
This resurrection of Jesus is the basis of our comfort in grief. Not that God did something once but that continues to do something. This is how God draws the broken-hearted close to Himself. Everyone that has faith in His Son who conquered death for us shall also have victory over death.
Whatever it is that you may be facing today, I challenge you to bring it before the Lord and trust him completely. Trust that he will see you around, over, and through it. Just as the widow placed the burden of her lifeless son into the arms of the prophet Elijah, I challenge you to place you burden into the arms of your Savior. Chad and Courtney and their baby girl will not come and see me on earth but I can go and see them. I praise the Lord that both Chad and Courtney believed in the final and complete reversal of death that Christ provided for us by his
Posted by Caleb
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