(John MacDuff, "A Book for the Bereaved")
"The widow's son got sick; he got worse and
worse, and finally he died." 1 Kings 17:17
How baffling and mysterious are many of God's
providential dispensations! Surely, we might think,
if there is one dwelling more than another secure
from the assaults of the dread invader, it will be
that of the widow of Zarephath, and of the hope and
solace of her declining years; who, if spared, might
become an honored instrument in the defense and
maintenance of the true religion. And yet, behold,
the desire of her eyes and the delight of her
heart--taken away by a stroke!
Oftentimes are we perplexed and confounded by
similar dealings; decayed scaffoldings, crumbling
props remaining--and the strong and vigorous, the
virtuous and useful, swept down in a moment!
There is no key to these dark dispensations.
Many a weeping eye cannot read them through
God's most favored people are often put in the
foremost ranks of chastisement. Upon the most
fruit-bearing trees of His garden He often uses
His sharp pruning-knife.
Then Elijah cried out to the Lord and said, "My Lord
God, why have You brought tragedy on the widow
I am staying with by killing her son?" 1 Kings 17:20
All bereavements and chastisements are
Trial, in its varied forms, has ever been employed
by God as a powerful means of leading to deeper
convictions of sin, as well as a salutary quickener
of spiritual graces. He knows what discipline is best
fitted to draw the soul to Himself; and often does
He show that none is so effectual as that which was
employed in this home at Zarephath--snapping the
ties which bind us to the creature--disuniting us
from earthly, to bind us to heavenly things.
Many can trace their first deep sense of sin--their
first lively apprehension of Christ and of Divine
realities--to the hour when their dwelling was rifled
of its prized blessings. He breaks the heart in
order to save the soul.