Sudden bursts of tragedy are never easy to handle. But such events are doubly hard when they come right after enduring a consuming and exhausting trial. Without a doubt, you have had a situation that suddenly appeared, leaving you feeling, “Why is this happening, after I’ve had such a difficult year, or month, week or even day?” Truth is, 2020 has been a VERY tough year – for us all.
A very bleak future – that sums up the condition experienced by the widow and her son as recorded in 1 Kings 17:17-24. Many of us are familiar with the story of this woman who, with her son, was about to face death by starvation. God sent the prophet Elijah to this lady, telling him that she would provide food for him (1 Kings 17:9). This had to be good news for Elijah, who had just recently had his meals delivered to him from ravens!
Elijah obeyed and went to the lady, but once he asked her for a meal, the woman gave him the news that she only had enough for her son and herself, and then they would both die.
Well, the widow’s paltry pantry did not match God’s boundless provision. Not only did God use this situation to meet Elijah’s own need for food, it was an Old Testament version of the feeding of the 5000 with a bit of bread and few fish! The supply of food didn’t run out, and all three were miraculously sustained.
That is… until verse 17, which begins with two fateful words: ”After this…” Abruptly, and apparently unrelated to the earlier trial, the widow’s son up and dies.
Now, the widow is completely overwhelmed with grief, and in that moment she did what most of us would do…instead of responding, she reacted. Basically, she blamed three people…1) Elijah – she turned to him first, asking “What have you against me?” 2) She brought God into the discussion, for in her eyes, Elijah was God’s man. And 3), because of that, she quickly blamed herself, indicating that her own sin had to be part of the reason why her son was now dead.
Elijah, however, did not react. He responded. Oh, may I respond to difficult situations the way he did! First of all, he DIDN’T lash back at the woman in self-defense. Instead, he had compassion on her, lifting her son’s lifeless body from her arms and placing the son in his own.
Then, Elijah did a most curious thing, something that we most undoubtedly would not do. He carried the son’s body to his own chambers, and there began a prayer meeting with God. He prayed…not once, not twice, but three times. And God listened to Elijah, and gave life back to the son.
Sometimes it just seems that life isn’t fair. Those times may be difficult…but they do carry a benefit – they help us realize that we are not God. Only God is God. He sees the end from the beginning. We don’t, and truth is, we can’t.
That is a God thing.
It was a God thing in Elijah’s situation, too. We can learn from what he did in that difficult moment. Pray. Pray without ceasing. Pray the same prayer over and over again, if necessary. And pray knowing that we serve a God who listens to our prayers.
In time, He will give us His answer. He always will.
Mike Gilland is Operations Manager for The Shepherd Radio Network, a group of radio stations in Florida that features the “Christian Teach/Talk” format. Mike hosts a daily talk radio show in the 2 PM hour called “Afternoons with Mike”, talking to local pastors and newsmakers. In Gainesville, Mike is heard on WTMN – 96.3 FM / 1430 AM. In Ocala, on WRZN – 103.5 FM / 720 AM. In addition to his broadcast experience, Mike spent 36 years in full-time ministry as a pastor and worship leader. As a guitarist, Mike performs at concerts, restaurants, private parties, etc. He is married to Cindy, the father of four grown children and grandfather to seven grandchildren.