The Death of a Son

Sarah Seibert

Read: 2 Kings 4:8-37

Did I ask you for a son, my lord? . . . Didn’t I tell you, “Don’t raise my hopes”? (v. 28 NIV)

What do you do when the most terrible thing you can imagine happens to someone you love—even, or especially, after you have prayed about it? In today’s Scripture, you can feel the gut-wrenching pain of this mother. We can all resonate with her pain because we all have a story of loss, or a fear of loss, that tightens our stomach muscles and squeezes our throat.

This woman from Shunem has a pleasant life and extends exceptional hospitality to the prophet Elisha, who often comes that way. When Elisha first promises her a son, she resists. After the promise is fulfilled, her greatest fears are realized when the child she loves so dearly dies in her arms. Scripture doesn’t tell us why the child dies or why his mother is put through such agony. We might expect the boy’s return to life to cause onlookers to praise God just as Jesus’ similar miracle does, but it doesn’t (see Luke 7:11-17). The death is senseless and inexplicable.

How we respond to tragedy touches our deepest beliefs. Do we find God in the pain? Or do we turn away? There is no way to avoid suffering. Pains, large and small, are part of life. But we take comfort in knowing that God suffers with us, weeps with us, holds us in our pain. God knows what it is like to suffer, for God, too, has lost a Son. —Sarah Seibert

As you pray, remember that in your deepest suffering, you do not cry alone.