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1 Kings 17:17-24, Elijah Revives the Widow’s Son

Wednesday, November 1

Bad Things, Good People

Narrative Lectionary Daily Devotions written by Kace Leetch from Clergy Stuff.

Elijah had been weathering the famine with a widow and her son, who were taking care of the weary prophet. The woman and her son nearly died from the famine, and when Elijah arrived, God provided enough food and water for them to survive. They took Elijah in while they waited for God to heal the famine. But then, the woman's son died of an illness. How unfair life can be! The woman and her son were saved so they could tend to Elijah, just to have her son die anyway.

Recently a friend told me of a sexual assault she had recently endured. As she sat in my arms crying, she asked why this was happening to her and what she had done wrong. I told her (not in these words, but to the effect of) sometimes bad things just happen to us through no fault of our own.

Another well-meaning, but ignorant friend had told her she was just too nice. The problem is, by telling her she was too nice, the friend inadvertently put the blame on her. It was not her fault and she didn't deserve it. Sometimes awful things just happen, even when we do everything right. In Elijah's case, there was no one to blame, and God stepped in to make it right. In my friend's case, there was someone to blame -- the perpetrator -- and while it can never be set right, it can be healed. Regardless, it is frightening and frustrating to accept that we can do everything right, and yet things can still happen to us that we do not want or cannot control.

So where's God in all this? No, God didn't cause it to test you or to teach you a lesson. No, God didn't stand idly by letting the thing happen while you endured it alone. I believe God's heart breaks every time something bad happens to us. Sometimes, it is the intimate presence of God that sees us through those situations. Sometimes God holds us as we suffer, and comforts us as we recover. Sometimes we are the arms of God as we hold each other, comforting one another and letting us know we are not alone.

Narrative Lectionary Text: 1 Kings 17:17-24

After this the son of the woman, the mistress of the house, became ill; his illness was so severe that there was no breath left in him. She then 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!” But he said to her, “Give me your son.” He took him from her bosom, carried him up into the upper chamber where he was lodging, and laid him on his own bed. He cried out to the Lord, “O Lord my God, have you brought calamity even upon the widow with whom I am staying, by killing her son?” Then he stretched himself upon the child three times, and cried out to the Lord, “O Lord my God, let this child’s life come into him again.” The Lord listened to the voice of Elijah; the life of the child came into him again, and he revived. Elijah took the child, brought him down from the upper chamber into the house, and gave him to his mother; then Elijah said, “See, your son is alive.” So 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.”