Sunday, September 19, 2010

Trinity 16 I Kings 17: 17-24

And it was, after these words, he became weak, the son of the woman, mistress of the house; and it was, his weakness was very powerful, up to which there was no breath in him. And she said to Elijah, "What is this to me and to you, ‘man of God'? You have come to me to remember my wrongs, and to kill my son!" And he said to her, "Give to me, your son." And he took from her lap, and he took him up to the upstairs, which he was dwelling there, and he placed him on his bed. And he called to Yahweh, and he said, "Yahweh, my God, also to the widow which I am staying as a foreigner with her, have You done evil, causing to die, her son?" And he stretched out upon the lad three times, and he called to Yahweh, and said, "Yahweh, my God, return, please, the soul of the lad to his inner parts." And Yahweh listened to the voice of Elijah, and the soul of the lad returned to his inner parts, and he lived! And Elijah took the lad, and brought him down from the upstairs of the house, and he gave him to his mother, and Elijah said to her, "Look, your son is alive!" And the woman said to Elijah, "This I know, for a man of God, you are, and the Word of God in your mouth is faithful-truth!"

God perplexes us sometimes. You get a lead on a job that seems perfect for you...then it goes to someone else. You find a special someone whom you want to date...but that person wants a relationship with somebody else. You work hard to live and eat healthier...then you come down with an illness anyway. You know how the widow in the story today must have felt. God had just provided food for her family thru a miracle...but now her one surviving relative, her only son, takes ill and dies.

When God allows such curve balls to be thrown into your life, how do you react? At first, you might react like Elijah, who all but accused God of doing something evil to this boy. "Why did God let this happen!" you might want to shout. Oh, you know that God didn't *do it*. Although you may act like you still think He did. You want to blame God for your troubles, quickly forgetting you deserve them.

Even though you ought to receive many more calamities in your life for your sin, God refrains from giving you what you should receive. God isn't evil. God is Love! When bad things happen to you, it's not because God is bad, but because He desires to use it as an opportunity to show mercy! That's what He did thru Elijah, raising this boy from the dead. That's what He does for you too! Jesus, the author of life gave Himself to death to feed you with His body and blood for your life everlasting!

You may react somewhat negatively like the widow woman in the story. You can almost hear the sarcasm in her voice as she addresses Elijah as a "man of God". It's as though she's mocking him with a "yeah, right, *you* are a ‘man of God'". You may be tempted to forget that your pastor is a "man of God" too. You may even try to dismiss what he teaches and preaches as his own opinion.

But a real man of God, like Elijah, doesn't offer human thoughts or ideas. He offers you words that are faithful and true. God's words. That's why you can rely on what your Pastor says to you as a sola scriptura preacher & teacher. As such a pastor, I'm privileged to proclaim to you today that you too, like this once dead boy are alive again! You who were dead in your sins are now made alive in Christ Jesus! You died to sin at the cross when Jesus died, and you are raised in Him on Easter to live new life!

You might also react to troubles by thinking that the LORD is a vindictive God. Luther used to think that. So did the widow woman, who was sure that God was punishing her for her former sinfulness. She was certain that God was a stern Judge Who kept a long ledger with black marks against her for all her wrongs. You might be tempted to think this sometimes too. But that's not how God acts.

Oh, your God is a God of judgment, to be certain. But His judgment toward you is a good one! He judges you by grace in Christ Jesus! In fact, though the LORD could remember all your wrongs, He chooses not to! He washed you clean from your sins in Holy Baptism! But there was a time when He *did* recall all of your sins, when He remembered to pour out that filthy flood water from the font upon His Son Jesus at the cross. Your God died for you so that you would not die, but live forever!

So, when lousy situations happen in your life that seem all wrong, take pause a bit to see if these are not just opportunities for God to act. Even the death of her last living family member turned out to be an occasion for great joy to the widow, when God used Elijah to resurrect Him. God does the same for you! In fact, He already has! As a believer *in* Christ, that means you were literally *in* Him on Easter Sunday when He raised Himself to life. You are already resurrected to life eternal in heaven!


No comments: