Joy Commanded
May 14, 2020
June 7, 2020

Questions About Death and Life

We all have to deal with death sometime. During this pandemic, there has been much death, which has brought fear and apprehension. The brokenness of this world is apparent with the spread of this disease. We long for a better place. The scriptures tell us God once created a perfect place which was called Eden.  However, the book of Revelation tells us that God has created a New Eden that will one day be our home. One thing for sure is that death and suffering were never part of his original creation; we experience them because they are the results of our rebellion against God. We were never meant to live in a world like this. Instead, but were designed to live in an unspoiled world. We are wired to long for it, as Solomon says, “He has also set eternity in the hearts of men” (Eccl 3:11).

When death comes, it brings questions—difficult questions that have allusive answers. These questions are not new. We find them in this Old Testament story.  Elijah, the prophet, had been sent to a poor widow who sustained him during a prolonged drought. God miraculously provided for her so she could sustain his prophet. However, during this time, the woman’s small child grew very ill and died (1 Kings 17:17-18). As the woman helplessly tried to stop death, she saw her little boy die. She voiced two questions. They are questions we still ask when death stalks us. First, “What do you have against me God?” and the second is, “Is it my fault that this happened” (1 Kings 17:17-18)?

When death happens, and we cannot stop it, it often does not feel right. Our mind tells us something is wrong, so we question God, “Why have you done this to me?” We just can’t accept the idea that this is how things have to be, so we cry out?” Then when we do not get an answer from God, we blame ourselves. This tragedy must be my fault. Did I cause this? Was my sin responsible for my son’s death? It is what we, as humans do. We ascribe meaning to what doesn’t make sense. When we can’t figure it out, we usually blame someone but mostly ourselves.

Elijah did not attempt to answer her questions, which is what any wise person should do when confronted with those questions. We cannot answer why. We can only listen and be there for the person. To explain the unexplainable is to make their pain worse.

Elijah took the little boy in his arms and carried him upstairs to his room, where he pleaded with God for his intervention. Elijah voices the woman’s question, “O Lord my God, have you brought tragedy also upon this widow I am staying with, by causing her son to die?” (1 Kings 17:20). His question is a protest against what has happened. God listened and answered Elijah’s plea, “The Lord heard Elijah’s cry, and the boy’s life returned to him, and he lived” (1 Kings 17:22). This was an extraordinary demonstration of the Lord’s power to overcome death. It’s the first time in the Bible anything like this had happened. The God of the Bible is the God of life and death. That had to be quite a scene when Elijah carried the child back down to his mother and said, “Look, your son is alive!” (1 Kings 17:23).

What happened in this story when Elijah stayed in the widow’s house was the beginning of something bigger and more significant than what appeared to be happening. What God was doing in that place was bigger than Elijah, bigger than the widow, and even bigger than Israel. What God is doing in your life is more significant than you. Ask God to let you see it, especially when you are dealing with difficult situations such as death. If you are willing to trust God, then you will come to see the bigger picture.

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