(NIV1984) 1 Kings 17:18 – “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?'”
Now, at a first glance, the woman’s accusations appear harsh. After all, God did bring Elijah to her and did bless her with enough oil and flour to continue making bread for Elijah and her family – going with the interpretation that this is the same woman. Now, yes, maybe Elijah could have healed the boy sometime while the sickness was getting worse, so questioning that – I mean, I questioned that. If I were the woman, I would probably be doing that, too. And out of pain – speaking is really easy to grow bitter and blaming, even if all the time I’m just also blaming myself in my head. Is anybody else that?
But then, in relation to the woman, we have to realize and remember that this woman previously was going to let herself and her son starve to death because they no longer had enough food. She’d been workng all this time to protect her son – but at the same time, perhaps it can be implied she might not have been giving him everything. The last meal was for both of them, not just him. She could have just fed him…but then she wouldn’t have been alive to take care of him. Slippery slope reasoning – and that coming from someone that isn’t even a mom, so there’s a lot that I won’t and don’t know (Happy Mother’s Day, by the way!).
Anyway, after being brought to the point of death – and seeing him brought to that last desperate point – then brought back, only to see him die again with nothing for her to do about it – it’s like that time was a hope spot and the boy’s death her despair event horizon. (I’m speaking in tropes here – links for these below.)
And, in some sense, it’s weird that she’s blaming Elijah. I know that I brought this up already, but think about it. He’s part of the reason she’s alive. (But wouldn’t it hurt more to watch the son die and have to live without him than to both die together?)
And what sin is Elijah reminding her of? Her inability to protect her son and keep him alive? Or is there something else there unspoken? Why is she a widow? What all happened in her past that she would immediately call onto that? Was it that she lost faith in God for those few moments when she thought they were going to starve to death? Was it just that she was initially not going to feed Elijah until there was a miracle? It would be all too easy, when something this bad happened, to start blaming myself, not just the people around me. And we can see a bit of that there, too, or, at least, I can. To be reminded of a past sin in the loss of her child – maybe she’s seeing this as a punishment. But maybe, just maybe, this is one of those times where just like in John 9, where “‘Neither this man nor his parents sinned,’ said Jesus, ‘but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.'” (John 9:3, NIV1984). (John 9 is one of the times when Jesus healed a blind man – only this one gets an entire chapter dedicated to it as the Pharisees try to figure out what happened, who healed this man, and end up throwing the man out of the synagogue.)
As we will see, wonderful things will occur. But, for me, the interactions of these people, her response to this and, in tomorrow’s post, Elijah’s response to her – it’s these relationships and reactions that are so interesting and beautiful and real to me. They act the way that I sometimes feel I would act.
There’s also this interesting interplay because in my own personal Bible study right now I’m reading Elisha’s stay and miracle with the Shunamite woman in 2 Kings 4 which has some parallels to this story.
I realize that today’s post in of itself is not the most encouraging thing in the world – but I think there’s still a lot to learn there today. And especially tomorrow! These responses – honestly, I love them!
I’m excited that y’all are continuing this journey with me and I hope that y’all will continue to read tomorrow!
EDIT: I forgot to post links to those tropes for you guys! Heh. So here they are!
Hope Spot: http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/HopeSpot
Despair Event Horizon: http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/DespairEventHorizon
Now – don’t get stuck in a TV Tropes loop! I know how addicting that site can be! I’ve gotten lost in there for a few hours or so myself multiple times (I like to think I’m doing research because I’m a writer, but that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea for me to do it either)! So be careful and if you need help getting dragged out, just holler!
(And as you’re reading these two, keep in mind that (SPOILER!) God will return her son to her. These two tropes are just how it looks just looking at this one verse, at this part of the situation without necessarily knowing the spoilers. So they end up getting averted. 🙂 )