“‘And all Israel shall mourn for him and bury him, for he only of Jeroboam shall come to the grave, because in him there is found something pleasing to the LORD, the God of Israel, in the house of Jeroboam.’” (1 Kings 14:13)
After Solomon’s death, the kingdom of Israel split in two. In the north were those who remained loyal to David’s house, accepting Solomon’s son Rehoboam as their king. But the remaining ten tribes formed their own kingdom in the south, taking a man named Jeroboam to be king. For a while, Jeroboam led the people in God’s way. But before long, he became jealous of the temple in Judah, and worried that his own people would remember the splendor of the northern kingdom and want to return to it, he erected two golden calves in Israel where his people could worship. His intention behind this was to secure his kingdom; but the actual result was the annihilation of his line. He had broken God’s covenant, and now he and his entire family would have to pay the consequences.
It was several years before anything happened. Then one day, Jeroboam’s son Abijah became seriously ill. Concerned for his life, Jeroboam sent his own wife to one of the prophets, eager to know what would happen to his son. The answer was the complete opposite of what he wanted to hear: Abijah would die as soon as the queen returned, but he was the fortunate one of the family. Everyone else would suffer a violent death at the hands of a usurper. Only Abijah would be spared this fate, and that was because he alone pleased God.
What an astonishing declaration! When we think of people who are blessed by God, we often envision wealthy individuals who are the epitome of good health. We certainly don’t think of those who die young. But that is exactly what happened with Abijah. Because he pleased God, he died.
This story is contrary to everything we value. As humans, we cherish life and prosperity. We value security, desperate to know that we and our family will be provided for. If we lack these things, we wonder what we’ve done wrong, what God could possibly be punishing us for. But Abijah’s gift from God was an early death. If he had lived, he would have met the same fate as his brothers. Yet because he pleased God, God spared him from this. He showed Abijah mercy by not healing him from his sickness.
Often, God allows things to happen that we would never have asked for. Maybe you know someone who’s died young. Maybe you’re in a serious financial crisis. Maybe someone you trusted has hurt you. In times like these, it’s easy to doubt God. After all, if He’s all powerful, why couldn’t He have stopped these horrible things from happening? But the thing is, we’re not God. We can only see the tiniest fragment of His plan, one that encompasses every single person to cross the earth. He knows the ending, and He’s working every event towards that ending. Even when we don’t understand, He knows what He’s doing. Because of that, we can still trust Him even when terrible things happen. Nobody wanted Abijah to die, but as it turned out, it was a blessing in disguise. So whatever distressing situation you may be in right now, take courage: God has planned for this to happen. He can use even the worst of circumstances to bring about good. Just because you can’t see it yet doesn’t mean it’s not true.