Some time later the son of the woman who owned the house became ill. He grew worse and worse, and finally stopped breathing. She said to Elijah, “What do you have against me, man of God? Did you come to remind me of my sin and kill my son?” “Give me your son,” Elijah replied. He took him from her arms, carried him to the upper room where he was staying, and laid him on his bed. Then he cried out to the LORD, “O LORD my God, have you brought tragedy also upon this widow I am staying with, by causing her son to die?” Then he stretched himself out on the boy three times and cried to the LORD, “O LORD my God, let this boy’s life return to him!” The LORD heard Elijah’s cry, and the boy’s life returned to him, and he lived. Elijah picked up the child and carried him down from the room into the house. He gave him to his mother and said, “Look, your son is alive!” Then the woman said to Elijah, “Now I know that you are a man of God and that the word of the LORD from your mouth is the truth.” – 1 Kings 17:17-24
One of the stages of grief a person goes through when losing a loved one is anger. And it seems inevitable that at some point when a person dies, the anger of the grieving one is directed at God.
The woman in our lesson appeared to have a right to be mad at God. After all, she did everything God had asked of her. She let Elijah stay in her home without charging rent. She made Elijah food everyday even though she and her son were on the brink of starvation. And God was generous to her. She and her son always had enough to eat. They were making it through the famine … until this day.
How quickly the woman connected her son’s death to sin. She asked Elijah, “Did you come to remind me of my sin?” She had a guilty conscience. She knew death was the proper payment for her sin. Yet, in misery she reached out to Elijah. She had nowhere to go but back to God to ask for mercy.
Elijah was kind and patient with the widow and promptly asked God for the impossible. “LORD my God, let this boy’s life return to him.” Elijah knew that the Lord, the author of life, could answer his request. And God did.
It was about 850 years after the time of Elijah that God would let another son die. But this son was God’s only Son, Jesus Christ. Jesus also died because of sin, but not his own. He died for the sins of the world. And after the payment for sin was made, God again showed his mastery over death. Jesus rose from the dead and promised that all those who believe in him would one day do the same.
Perhaps you are grieving the death of a loved one. If not, sometime in the future you will. You will have to process different emotions like denial and anger and sadness. These are normal steps through a grieving process. But take comfort in God’s certain promises. Jesus has power over death. He has forgiven your sins and opened the gate of eternal life for you.
Prayer: Lord, facing death is scary. It is hard to think about losing people close to me and even harder to know that one day I will have to face death myself. Because you have taken away my sin I know I don’t need to fear death. Help me to see it as a doorway through which you will lead me to heaven. Amen.