That is a question we often find ourselves asking. God does and allows things we do not understand sometimes. We hope that He will answer us and tell us why He has chosen to act as He has. But God keeps His own counsel. He has made plans for His creation and He is under no obligation to reveal the how's or why's of His plans to us. We love to to try and figure out what God is up to, sometimes to our detriment.
There is an interesting story in 1 Kings 17 about the prophet Elijah and a widow who God uses as His instrument of provision for the prophet. You probably know the story. Elijah has prophesied a drought on the land. After the brook that God had told Elijah to live by dries up from the lack of rain, God tells Elijah to travel to Zarephath because He has commanded a widow there to care for Elijah.
What is interesting is what happens next.
After Elijah travels to Zarephath and asks the widow for bread and water, she responds to him in verse 12 by telling him she is preparing what she fully expects to be the last meal for herself and her son before they die. Apparently she is completely unaware that God intends to use her to provide for His prophet. Elijah tells her that God will keep her flour and oil from running out and she is able to eat and provide for Elijah for what scripture calls "many days".
At this point, things are going about how we would envision. God's prophet is being cared for miraculously by God and in the process the widow and her son are being blessed by God with provision as well. This is pretty close to how we think things should go. God is working and blessing those He is using to do His work.
Then we get to verse 17.
After this the son of the woman, the mistress of the house, became ill. And his illness was so severe that there was no breath left in him.I'm sorry...what?
After being the instrument of God and agreeing to care for this man when she is struggling to support herself and her son......God lets her son die? This does not fit into our idea of how things should go. This widow has sacrificed for God and this happens? How is this right?
Not surprisingly, the widow does not understand why this happened. She asks Elijah what he has against her that he would come and cause the death of her son. She has opened up her home to Elijah on his promise that God would provide and in the process has lost her son. We know that God will raise her son back to life, but she doesn't. All she sees is the death of her son.
Surely the prophet of God, Elijah can shed some light onto what God is thinking here. Elijah takes the boy upstairs and lays him on his own bed and then speaks to God in verse 20.
And he cried to the , “O my God, have you brought calamity even upon the widow with whom I sojourn, by killing her son?”This turn of events has taken Elijah by surprise as well. God obviously hasn't told Elijah the plan at this point either. Neither God's prophet nor the woman God has chosen to provide for His prophet has any idea what God is up to at this point.
We like to think that if we pursue intimacy with God or if we sacrifice our own needs to be used by Him that we will somehow find ourselves privy to information about God's plans that He saves for those who are closest to Him.
The truth is that God keeps His own counsel. Proverbs 25:2 tells us that "it is the glory of God to conceal things and the glory of kings to search things out." Of course to search doesn't always mean to find. The reality is that no amount of sacrifice or service can put God in our debt that He would be somehow obligated to reveal His plans to us. He reveals what He chooses to and conceals what He chooses to.
Many things happen in this life that don't make sense to us. We must trust Him even when our circumstances seem unfair or are just incomprehensible to us.What we rest in in those times is the knowledge that when He reveals and when He conceals, He does so for our good and His glory.