(NIV1984) 1 Kings 17:19-20 – “‘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 eh LORD, ‘O LORD my God, have you brought tragedy also upon this widow I am staying with, by causing her son to die?'”
First thing to notice about this passage – it clears up my earlier questions by pinpointing that this is the same widow! I should have just checked this again. Ah, well.
What is interesting to me is that that the widow doesn’t just give Elijah her son. “He took him from her arms….” It’s almost like she didn’t want to let him go, she couldn’t just give him up like that. It was hard for her. But she didn’t necessarily fight with him either.
And this gives a shade of color to this entire conversation: she’s been holding her son in her arms while she was talking to him. And she’s probably crying and yelling at him and broken and in despair – and I know I commented on this yesterday in her reply, but keeping in mind that the son who just died is being held in her arms – that’s a big deal. And since he died from an illness that just kept getting worse, what is the likelihood that she would get the illness from him by holding him?
One of the other things I want to focus on here is the “also” in verse 20. I mean – that could refer to a lot of people. It’s a famine, so there’s bound to be tragedy. But I feel like perhaps this “also” refers back to Elijah. And I suppose I’m not just saying this based on this study so far, but (SPOILER) based on what I know of him – how lonely he appeared to be for much of the time – so much so that one of his later laments is that he is the only one still fighting for God (1 – I’m paraphrasing and 2 – he’s wrong – but it’s almost enough that he feels this way) (END SPOILER). And no doubt God is with Elijah, but that Elijah knew the tragedy of being alone and now this widow he was staying with would undergo the same thing – his actions here and in the coming verses (and (SPOILER) when he calls Elisha (END SPOILER)) show how much he wanted to save her (and perhaps other people?) from that same fate.
And that Elijah had this relationship with God that he could say this to Him. I mean – imagine that. Staying alone, doing what God commands, going to this widow, being an instrument to speak their salvation – not just her, but also her son – then finding that despite that the son has died anyway – I mean, I imagine Elijah being a little bit frustrated here. Just – look at his words! “‘O LORD my God, have you brought tragedy also upon this widow I am staying with, by causing her son to die?'” It feels to me like, “What are You doing? Why? What the heck?” Kind of like Elijah had never expected this to happen (maybe that’s why no healing before now?) and all of a sudden this boy is dead and it hits him and he’s like – What is going on here?
And I guess what I’m trying to point out is that it’s okay to cry out to God like this. To have these moments where suddenly everything gets turned on its head, and yeah, we are supposed to trust God – and I don’t see Elijah stop trusting God here (especially not with the next verses) – but that it’s okay to say, “I don’t understand. Why are You doing this? What is going on? This doesn’t make any sense!” It’s okay to break down in God’s present and wail and lament. He can take it and He can hold onto you and He will make everything good. We don’t always understand His will, but that doesn’t mean we can’t ask or talk to Him about it. And that’s very encouraging to me. 🙂
Come back tomorrow to read the conclusion of this episode with me! It’s super exciting and I can’t wait to go through it again with y’all! Hope you enjoyed today’s post!