I was sitting in church this last Sunday, listening to the sermon (I didn't have to preach. The Field Work student was preaching the sermon.) and got to thinking about a part of the Old Testament lesson. It came from 1 Kings 17. The text he was using was from Luke but he brought in the OT lesson. Anyway, I was listening to the sermon and there was a verse from I Kings that struck me interesting.
"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. 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!" (1Kings17:17-18 ESV) This is part of the time that Elijah is spending with the widow of Zarephath. She is the one who made cakes of bread for them each day, having only just enough flour and oil, only to find that the next day, there was flour and oil in the containers. God was providing for their physical need of food. It was quite the miracle. It would be pretty neat to have that happen. Whenever I am running low on something and yet it doesn't quite run out, I think of this account. But in the end, it does always run out. The Lord made it to where it never ran out, as long as Elijah was staying with her.
What a blessing to have a man of God staying with a widow woman. It was a time of great spiritual happenings and she was a part of it. Ever wished you could be a part of such a great spiritual occurrence? It must have been amazing. That first day, she baked and figured it was over. The next day, she looked and saw she had flour and oil again. Maybe she just thought that she hadn't emptied it out good. The 3rd day, it would be kinda weird. The 4th day you would stay up all night watching to see if Elijah came down and filled it. The 5th day you would think that you must have fallen asleep and missed Elijah. By the 6th day you might start believing that a miracle is taking place. After a whole week, you would be convinced that a man of God was in your midst.
But then, would you start taking it for granted? Would you just "expect" that there would be oil and flour? Would you begin to forget to thank the Lord for such a blessing? Would you figure that you really did deserve to have this happen since you were helping out Elijah? Would you think it was because you were such a wonderful person, so giving and caring?
Hold on, that sounds like you and me. God does wondrous things in our midst (caring for us daily, giving us the job, the house, the car, the clothes, the food, the stuff of life) and we begin to take them for granted. After a while, we think we deserve such things. Of course God is going to give me all I have - I am such a good person. I go to work (grumbling all the way but I still go). I attend worship every week (which means I am a good person who deserves the blessings from God for I endure those sermons that seem to ramble from one place to another, AND the service lasts longer than 1 hour!). I put an offering in the plate (maybe not firstfruits but it is something at least). So God should give me all I have. We forget that what we have is a blessing from God, not something we deserve or something we can demand. Anyway, I digress.
As I was sitting there listening to the sermon, that verse about her son dieing struck me. Here response was a vintage response that so many of us have when something happens. The widow blames Elijah for the death of her son. How often do we just flat out blame God for something happening in our lives. "God, I was doing what you wanted. Why did You do this to me?" The loss of a job is blamed on God instead of on the poor economy or the fact that I really didn't work that hard to keep the job. The break up of a marriage is blamed on God instead of on the fact that i just didn't work that hard to keep the marriage alive and well. The sickness (cancer, heart) is blamed on God instead of seeing it as a result of a fallen, sinful body that is actually dieing the moment it is born.
Why God? Why would you do this to me when I am really a pretty good person, living a pretty good life, doing pretty good things? That becomes the question we ask of God.
The answer is - those things happen just because. The woman actually answers the question herself - "You have come to bring my sin to remembrance..." That is the root of all our problems - sin. Our sin, original and actual sin, bring these things upon us just as the sin of her son brought about his death. That is reality. Sin destroys all that is good. Sin crushes life. Sin robs us of joy.
So what do we do? Nothing. God does it all. Just as the young man didn't give himself new life, God did, so it is in our lives. Sin robs, God blesses. Sin kills, God gives life. God brings new life to us through His Son Jesus Christ. That is why we return to Him over and over again. Only in Christ is life and hope found. Only in Christ is true joy returned to us. Only in Christ is there any rays of sunshine.
All that ran through my mind in a few brief moments as I listened to the sermon. I found myself thanking God for sending His Son into the world for me, to take my sins and to give me - everything. Thanks God!