Many churches throughout the world use a Bible reading schedule called a "lectionary." It's just a fancy word meaning "selected readings." Posts like this reflect on the readings for an upcoming Sunday or other Church holiday, as found in the historic one-year lectionary.
Over the past three decades (plus some) that I have been involved in Christian ministry, I’ve heard many Christians express disappointment, some resentment, and even some fear of ill treatment at the hands of those who would complain against them. Our passage in 1 Kings 17 calls this to mind. You may recall that last week’s Old Testament lectionary reading was the passage that came immediately before this one. In it, during a time of famine, Elijah was sent by God to a widow and her son. They were down to the last handful of flour and a little oil, and were planning to make a piece of bread to eat before they would starve to death. God multiplied the oil and flour so that they and Elijah would be able to eat throughout the time of famine. God saved their lives through his miraculous care shown in the mediation of his prophet.
In this week’s passage, the son becomes ill and dies. What is the response of the widow who has just been brought through a famine by God? She asks why the prophet has brought this plague on her household.
In times of pain and suffering virtually anybody will lash out at someone. In this instance, the prophet is a handy target. He didn’t cause the illness or the death. And he prayed to bring the young man back to life. Elijah was a faithful prophet before God and was used for the good of God’s people. He was exactly the kind of man who would be present for the suffering widow. As a result, he presented himself as an easy target.
During hard times, such as we have all seen in our lives, Christians are regularly accused of being hard-hearted, soft-headed, involved in the wrong causes, too involved, not involved enough, being in the way, not being available, and any number of other things. If there’s an accusation to be lodged, it will be. Faithful Christians rightly say they are being treated wrongly when they are used as targets for angry or fearful people to lash out at.
What is our response? As Elijah did, we bring our neighbor’s troubles before God, asking that He will bring healing and restoration. Sometimes he does. We are there to walk through the dark places together with those who are hurting. This means we will often feel the brunt of their anger and fear. It’s all right, Christian. They are lashing out at God, not so specifically at you. And you are not answerable to the person who treats you with anger. You are answerable to God. Be found faithful in Christ and all will be well.
It isn’t easy living in a sin-cursed world. But it’s the world we are living in. While we are here, we walk in the light of Christ, and we shine His light into the darkness. The God of all mercy and grace will be with us and will use us to love and serve our neighbors. He’s still the good Lord.
If this brief meditation was helpful to you, I hope you will check out the other materials on our website at www.WittenbergCoMo.com and consider supporting us.