What do you do when you find yourself surrounded by people who don’t have the best intentions towards you? Some of you may say, “That sounds like my workplace.” Others will say, “I face this every day, no matter where I go.”
When Elisha’s servant awoke one day, he asked: “Oh, my lord, what shall we do?” (2 Kings 6:15, NIV) He saw with his very own eyes that the city was surrounded with heavily-armed enemy soldiers.
Any of us would shake in our boots in such an occasion, for we all tend to panic the way this servant did. Elisha, however, remained calm. He quietly advised his servant to: “Don’t be afraid…Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” (2Kgs 6:16, NIV2)
The servant wasn’t sure what Elisha was talking about. Only when Elisha prayed the following prayer did the servant see for himself what Elisha meant: “Open his eyes, LORD, so that he may see.” (2Kgs 6:17, NIV2)
The servant’s eyes were opened “…and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.” (2Kgs 6:17b, NIV2)
May we remember this whenever life looks gloomy. We are God’s children, after all, and we are surrounded by the armies of our Lord and Savior. We have nothing to fear. We only have to put our faith glasses on to see for ourselves that we are not alone in this: “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” (2Kgs 6:16, NIV2)
When the enemy’s army came down, Elisha prayed a simple prayer: “Strike these people with blindness.” (2 Kings 6:18, NIV) Suddenly they were all blind. Elisha then approached them and encouraged them to follow him. They did, and Elisha led them straight in a city of Samaria, where the King of Israel and his army were located. Only then did the eyes of these enemy soldiers open. Only then did they realize that they were in big trouble.
The King of Israel eagerly asked the prophet: “Shall I kill them, my father? Shall I kill them?” (2Kgs 6:21, NIV2). But God had a different plan. He is not a God of destruction, but a God of love. Instead the king was advised: “Do not kill them…Set food and water before them so that they may eat and drink and then go back to their master.” (2Kgs 6:22, NIV2)
This went against all human logic. Feeding and freeing the enemy? Unheard of! It is for sure that they will turn against us! But human logic isn’t God’s logic. After this enemy army was fed and send back to its master, something extraordinary happened: “The bands from Aram stopped raiding Israel’s territory.” (2Kgs 6:23b, NIV2)
Human logic would have led to war and destruction. God’s logic will lead to peace and rest.
Nonetheless, it is very tempting for us to wish that those who hurt us would be completely annihilated, and if this is not possible, we would prefer to run as far away from these evil doers as possible. If such wish were to be realized, however, we would miss the opportunity to witness the love of God. We were not created to destroy and/or live in defeat. We were created to shine the love God has bestowed on us.
May we learn to ask our Father to “Open our eyes” when we face such challenges. God will see us through, and in times of doubt, let’s remember: “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” (2Kgs 6:16, NIV2)
Human logic may make sense to us, but it doesn’t make sense to the source of all wisdom: God Himself.
Around 1674, the town of St. Malo decided to enforce their curfew. They wished to protect their inhabitants, and they couldn’t do so when they were wandering around the streets at night. The town council decided to host a kennel with 24 English mastiffs. During the day, these massive mastiffs weren’t fed. At ten o’clock at night, as indicated by the sounding of the bell in the church clock tower, they were all released. Beware for those who did not obey the curfew!
It was a cheap way to enforce the law. Humanly it made sense. They had nothing to lose! Myself, I wouldn’t want to face such menacing, hungry dogs, especially in the dark! Still, others had no concerns about it. What was the chanced such dogs would attack?
As it turned out, by 1770 there had been no incidents involving the mastiffs. As a result, it slipped the mind of a naval officer that they even still existed. He had spent the evening with his fiancée, and he had completely forgotten about the curfew. Sure enough, he found himself surrounded by these vicious dogs. Sadly, he never asked for his eyes to be opened. His lot was not indicated in the annals of the city. All we know is that he must have had a very tough time, and that for some obscure reason, a new edict appeared a few days later, banning such dogs from roaming the night streets of St. Malo! The only reminder of this regretful decision is that the church bell still rings every evening at ten o’clock.
Our ways are usually much more destructive than peaceful. These beasts were a menace, but so were the enemy armies who wanted Israel destroyed. However, “‘My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the LORD.” (Isa 55:8, NIV2) God has a greater plan than any of us can ever imagine. Everything can be peacefully resolved if we release our burdens into the hands of the One who can do anything (See Matthew 11:28).
May we always pray for our eyes to open when we face adversity. We truly have nothing to fear!
It’s 10 o’clock. Why are there bells ringing?
(To access the entire “Facing Unimaginable Odds” devotional series, please click here.)