1 Kings 17.17
“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.”
In the midst of the hardship and adversity of the drought, both Elijah and the widow were faithful, and God supernaturally sustained them. But then, unexpectedly, the widow’s son takes ill and dies.
What will the widow do? How will Elijah respond? Will the Lord intervene?
“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!” (1 Kings 17.18)
In her distress, she believes that God (through Elijah) was punishing her for her past sins, so she challenges Elijah: What do you have against me? You came from corrupt Israel, stayed in my home, blessed me with a miraculous supply of food during this drought, enjoyed my hospitality, gotten to know me, and now after all this you call judgment on me for my past sin so that my son dies?
Why would you do this? Why would your God do this? Why me? Of course, the truth was that Elijah didn’t cause the death of the boy. Neither did God. Neither did the woman’s past sin. The son simply took ill and died.
This raises one of the primary questions that people have about God. Why does God allow bad things to happen?
When people experience adversity, they want answers. They often look to God and ask, “Why me?” Knowing that God is described as loving and all-powerful, they want to know why God didn’t use His power to prevent the adversity. How can a God of love allow me to experience pain and suffering?
The truth is that God created a world of cause-and-effect where our choices have consequences. Adam and Eve used the power of choice to disobey God, and the consequence was that creation became broken and bad things entered the world.
The world is broken, and bad things happen.It has been that way every day, week, month, and year since Genesis 3.
The good news is that the Lord has made provision for the brokenness of the world and the sinfulness of people. Because He loves us, God sent His Son into the fallen, broken world to redeem us and deliver us from sin.
“For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 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. For in this hope we were saved.” (Romans 8.20-24)
However, the Lord does not remove us from the broken world; instead, He sends us into the fallen world as His ambassadors. This means that the followers of Jesus, like everyone else in the world, will experience adversity.
“The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.” (Romans 8.16-17)
When Jesus returns, He will fix all of the brokenness. He will eliminate all of the bad things and suffering. In the meantime, the Lord calls us to trust Him and grow stronger in the midst of the adversity we experience.
“Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” (Romans 5.1-5)
The great question, then, is not how will God respond when you experience adversity; the great question is how will you respond?