“Some time later, the woman’s son became sick. He grew worse and worse, and finally he died. She then said to Elijah, ‘O man of God, what have you done to me? Have you come here to punish my sins by killing my son?’ But Elijah replied, ‘Give me your son.’ And he took the boy’s body from her, carried him up to the upper room, where he lived, and laid the body on his bed. Then Elijah cried out to the Lord, ‘O Lord my God, why have you brought tragedy on this widow who has opened her home to me, causing her son to die?’” (1Kings 17:17-20)
Prayer is a place where we can ask all our whys. We must not demand that our whys be answered, but we can ask them out loud and know that God feels our pain. The Bible tells us that God enters into the agony of His people. “In all their suffering He also suffered, and He personally rescued them” (Isa. 63:9). He wants to tell us what He knows we can bear. I only know that when I bring my whys to Him in worship, I leave the throne room without them.
Ruth Bell Graham captures this perfectly in her poem “Sitting by My Laughing Fire:”
I lay my whys
Before Your cross
Before Your cross
In worship kneeling,
My mind too numb
My heart beyond all feeling.
Realize that I
In knowing you
Don’t need a “why.”
Ruth is talking about the ability to let go of something that’s very painful. Tough things mustn’t stop our prayers; they must drive us to prayer.
Notice that Elijah’s why didn’t keep him from praying; in fact, it appears to have driven him to more fervent petition. “And he stretched himself out over the child three times and cried out to the Lord, ‘O Lord my God, please let this child’s life return to him’” (1 Kings 17:21). That was pretty bold. And in this instance God answered his prayer.
The Lord heard Elijah’s cry, and the boy’s life returned to him, and he lived. Elijah picked up the child and carried him down from the room into the house. He gave him to his mother and said, “Look, your son is alive!” Then the woman said to Elijah, “Now I know that you are a man of God, and that the word of the Lord from your mouth is the truth” (1 Kings 17:22-24).
Can you imagine their joy? I find it hard to grasp what went on in the little house that evening, as Elijah, the widow, and her son talked. Not only had God given life, but He had also given light. The word from Elijah’s mouth was true! His God was God indeed, and the widow and her son acknowledged it.
I can imagine that this incident in the prophet’s life would stand him in good stead when the test came later on Mount Carmel. If God could raise a dead child, He could send down fire from heaven. But then, all answered prayer should build our confidence. Look back and think of a prayer that worked, of a God who was faithful to you. God is the “same yesterday, today, and forever” (Heb. 13:8). Let yesterday’s answers give you hope for today’s dilemmas. And remember, as the saying goes, “You are coming to a king, large petitions with you bring.”
In His Love,
Just Between Us Magazine