Summary: God uses suffering to turn lost hearts to Him.
“From Suffering to Surrender”
In 1 Kings 17:8-24, God sent Elijah to Zarephath, the heart of Baal worship. Though it was behind enemy lines, Elijah promptly arose and went. He was obedient regardless of his lack of understanding. Complete knowledge is no prerequisite to obedience. God told Elijah a widow in Zarephath would be there to help him. That was of little comfort. What could she do? A widow, in that agrarian society, had little under normal circumstances. However, Israel was in a drought. The situation would be even worse than normal. That did not stop Elijah from obeying the Lord. When he arrived he found the widow and her son starving to death. However, God provides for them and the oil and flour do not run out. Elijah, the widow, and her young son are feed for many days. Elijah's God humiliates the false god Baal. While Elijah and the widow eat, the followers of Baal starve. Baal is shown to be inept. Though Baal was the storm god, he did not make it rain.
Just when all is looking rosy, the widow’s young son dies. The widow did not understand. Why would Yahweh save them and then allow her son to die? It is a reminder that life will never be absent of suffering, but God is working a wonderful plan. The true and living God was about to “show up” Baal once more. God created an impossible situation so He would have the opportunity to show that He can do the impossible! When we do not understand His plan, we can wait in trust. Elijah begs God to raise the boy from the dead and God does so. As a result, the widow woman’s heart is changed. Had it not been for the suffering, there would never have been a surrender. In the heart of Baal worship, the storm god, who was supposed to be able to raise the dead, was impotent. But the true and living God displayed His power to the inhabitants of that land. When things are getting worse, the opportunity for God’s power and glory to be seen increases.
So, whatever your situation, wait in trust and know that everything is running according to God's timetable. In Proverbs 3:5-6 we are reminded, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding; think about Him in all your ways, and He will guide you on the right paths.” The Lord, He is God and He will not let you down. He has promised in Hebrews 13:5-6, “'I will never leave you or forsake you.' Therefore, we may boldly say: The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid.”