Fear and failure never rear their ugly heads stronger than when the acid rain of life comes.
The “Why me-s?!” of life easily turn into “If I would have…” when we begin to feel pelted with life at its junkiest — loss, humiliation, disappointment in humanity, the uphill climb. To avoid our fears, in a vague attempt to make sense of all the calamity of life in our own lives and around us, things like blame, bitterness, broken relationships, and isolation become realities that weigh heavy in our chests.
There is the story of a woman in 1 Kings 17:17-24 who couldn’t make sense of calamity. She lashed out. But God provided an answer…a resurrection kind of answer.
Read 1 Kings 17:17-24 –
17 After this the son of the woman, the mistress of the house, became ill. And his illness was so severe that there was no breath left in him. 18 And she said to Elijah, “What have you against me, O man of God? You have come to me to bring my sin to remembrance and to cause the death of my son!” 19 And he said to her, “Give me your son.” And he took him from her arms and carried him up into the upper chamber where he lodged, and laid him on his own bed. 20 And he cried to the Lord, “O Lord my God, have you brought calamity even upon the widow with whom I sojourn, by killing her son?” 21 Then he stretched himself upon the child three times and cried to the Lord, “O Lord my God, let this child’s life come into him again.” 22 And the Lord listened to the voice of Elijah. And the life of the child came into him again, and he revived. 23 And Elijah took the child and brought him down from the upper chamber into the house and delivered him to his mother. And Elijah said, “See, your son lives.” 24 And the woman said to Elijah, “Now I know that you are a man of God, and that the word of the Lord in your mouth is truth.”
Don’t miss verse 18 and verse 20. Both the woman and Elijah end up with questions for God:
“What have you against me, O man of God? You have come to me to bring my sin to remembrance and to cause the death of my son!”
And he cried to the Lord, “O Lord my God, have you brought calamity even upon the widow with whom I sojourn, by killing her son?”
We always jump to look for sin when calamity comes – Who messed up? Was it me? Was it my spouse? Was it my friend?
This woman had a close connection to Elijah. In the very same chapter of 1 Kings in verses 8-16, immediately preceding the previous reading, the woman experiences an honest-to-goodness miracle through Elijah, acknowledging the might and power of the One True God — food for many days, unspent oil, provision.
What was the problem then? What happened? Why this meeting of fear and faith in verses 18?
Asking questions during times we don’t understand is always a good start; let’s give the woman that. Fear and all the feelings of failure — our own or that of others — spoken is a lot less powerful in our lives. Questions are not the problem.
Matthew Henry puts it like this –
“Our mountain never stands so strong but it may be moved…”
The miracle, the provision is an important act of God. However, when we place our faith in the mountain, in only the tangible acts of God — provision, stability, prophets and preachers, breath and life we can see in front of us — we will be disappointed in what God offers time and again.
We end up looking at God and saying, “What the heck?! What is this? Which sin are You punishing me for?” We see ourselves as big enough to escape the destiny of a broken world, but then the mountain is moved and crushes our hope.
Instead, God offers us more in the Resurrection of Christ Jesus –
Hope that cannot be seen.
And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.
We are all imperfect in our response to God, even Elijah. But God does not demand a perfect response. He answers Elijah and the widow with a promise, a foreshadowing –
3 times Elijah lays on the boy
3 days of death Jesus sat in a dark cavern
And then Life.
This story of Old Testament resurrection reminds us that our confidence is in things not seen, mountains of stability in the storm like the peace that passes all understanding, joy constant, and eternal Life today.
Our questions, our fears are met with answers in the Word of God, and in calamity we see Life because of the Resurrection.
Look for the Life. Think of a recent struggle of your own, or a report you have heard on the news. Where is God working Life? What promises of God remain despite it all? Share your thoughts with us in the comments.
This is our resurrection God, making sense of calamity, bringing Life.