All parents will suffer the heartache of watching their children suffer through difficult trials in this broken world in these broken bodies. Parents and our children are broken and suffer in many ways. A few days ago my wife, Jeni, wrote the following article as a result of her meditation on God’s word in her quiet time. I think it might be encouraging to other moms and dads. Thank you to my spirit-led wife for always striving to serve others in this way.
Here it is:
My Scripture reading for today was I Kings 14-18, which contains my favorite story from the Old Testament: Elijah’s showdown with the prophets of Baal on Mt. Carmel. I almost didn’t get to chapter 18, though, because of the beautiful story in I Kings 17.
In the midst of a drought, God commands Elijah the prophet to go to Zarephath where a widow will feed him. When Elijah asks her for a glass of water and a piece of bread, she replies, “As surely as the LORD your God lives, I don’t have any bread – only a handful of flour in a jar and a little oil in a jug. I am gathering a few sticks to take home and make a meal for myself and my son, that we may eat it – and die.” Elijah encourages her to not be afraid, to feed him anyway, and if she does, God will not allow her jar of flour and jug of oil to ever run dry again….and He keeps that promise.
Don’t you just love the compassion of God? He sees the widow in her suffering and sends Elijah the prophet her way just in time. Notice, however, that she still must respond in faith and obedience. She does, and her faith is rewarded.
Like the widow, there will be days you feel your cup is just about empty and you have nothing to give. Like God is asking too much of you. God sees your weakness. He knows you are stretched thin. He cares. He is still calling you to trust Him. If you do, He will supply Every. Single. Thing you need to walk in obedience. Write this promise on your forehead (or at least commit it to memory!): God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times having all that you need you will abound in every good work. (II Corinthians 9:8) When you feel you are running dry and God is asking more of you than you can handle, He is saying to you, “Don’t be afraid. I will meet your every need from my storehouse. Each morning I will supply you with grace and strength for that day. Be faithful and obedient. My supply will never run out.”
Back to the story. The widow’s son gets sick, grows worse with each passing day, and eventually dies. She questions, Is this happening just to remind me of my sins?? Elijah says, “Give me your son.” She hands her beloved child over to Elijah. He carries the boy upstairs, lays him out on the bed, stretches his body over him three times and cries out to God to restore his life. God hears Elijah’s cries and gives breath back to the boy. That is the first instance of raising the dead recorded in Scripture. Oh, the compassion, the mercy, and the power of God!
I want to apply this story to parenting, and I want to be true to the text as well. In the 18+ years of the raising of a child, we are bound to see him or her endure numerous trials. Just as the widow watched her son grow worse with each passing day, it can be heart-wrenching on parents when we see our kids suffering. First and foremost, we must do as the widow did when she handed her child over to Elijah; we must entrust our child 100% – his health, his past, his future, his abilities, his trials, his emotional well-being, his mind, his relationships – to the care of God. Our children do not belong to us anyway; they are good gifts from God given to us for a time to steward on His behalf. This can be a daily battle, though, surrendering our child back to God, saying, “He is Yours. She is Yours.”
Like the widow, we might wonder, are my sins coming back to haunt me? Is my child’s sickness or other trial happening because of my own failures? I think it is interesting that, as far as we know, Elijah does not verbally address the widow when she asks if he is against her and if her son’s death is just to remind her of her sins. The note in my NIV Study Bible says “her sense of guilt seems to have been influenced by pagan ideas,” but Elijah doesn’t rebuke her or give her an explanation for the suffering. He just says, “Give me your son.”
Maybe therein lies the answer. We may never know in this life the reasons for our child’s adversities, but God is calling us to hand our children over to Him. Ephesians 3:20 promises “God is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine” in spite of our sin and failure. God holds out His loving, strong arms to us and says, “Entrust your child to Me. I am the only One who can restore and revive. I am at work behind the scenes. Watch Me, and you will discover that My Word is true.”
Commence, for us parents, the waiting, the hoping, the trusting, the watching, not being controlled by fear, but continuing to love and serve out of God’s abundant supply of grace.