Yesterday, we introduced the idea that as Christians, we do not grieve the way that the world grieves because we know things that the world doesn't know. We have an intimate knowledge of the goodness of God that changes the way that we respond to the circumstances that we face.
And as I thought about that this weekend, I found myself reading the story of Jeroboam's wife in 1 Kings 14.
Jeroboam's child was very sick. Near-death sick, as the children of sinful kings tend to be. (Remember how David's child with Bathsheba became ill and would not live because of David's sin.) Jeroboam is, understandably, sick at heart. He keeps vigil over his child, and he longs to know what is going to come of the situation. Clearly, it looks as though anyone with a set of eyes can tell how this situation is going to end, but Jeroboam wants to know for sure.
So this man who has a...complicated...relationship with God decides that the best thing to do is to go ask the prophet what the Lord says, but of course, he can't go himself. He's the king. So he sends his wife, in disguise, to go ask the hard question: what will happen to my child?
The disguise doesn't work, and the prophet knows exactly who Jeroboam's wife is before she even comes into the room, even though he is an old prophet and his eyesight is failing. (And why you dress in disguise to go see a blind prophet is another story altogether.) The prophet tells her that he knows who she is, he knows why she's come, and he doesn't have good news for her: the child will die.
In fact, the child will die as soon as she sets foot back in the town.
In other words, the child will die before she even has a chance to tell her husband, or anyone else, the word of the Lord on the matter.
There seems, then, to be an easy solution: don't go home. If the child will die when you cross the border into the town, then it stands to reason that if you never cross that border, the child will never die. You will never see your child again, perhaps. Perhaps the child will spend the rest of his life in bed, sick and near-death, but at least the child will be alive. You can almost hear this mother's heartstrings being pulled.
But for some reason, she doesn't even seem to consider this option. Filled with grief, she turns toward home. She turns back to the place from which she came, where her child lay dying and her husband paces the floor. She goes right back to the place where she knows, as soon as she gets there, the story is over.
Except...not quite. Because she understands that she holds an essential piece of the story that, if she never goes home, she never gets to tell. She knows something that no one else in that house knows right now. She knows what God has to say about things. And if she doesn't tell them, who will?
You may already see where I'm going with this, but hold on with me (because I want to say it, okay?). We'll connect the dots on some of this tomorrow.