Greetings in the name of Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Praying for you, your family, your community and the rest of the world. Right now, the whole world is suffering because of the Coronavirus (COVID-19). Let’s pray together to God, Our Ever-Loving Father, His mercy and protection on all, and God’s healing on those who are infected by the Coronavirus. We all believe God’s grace and love rest on all who look upon Him every moment with faith in Him.
And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him. (Hebrews 11:6)
The king of Aram decided to invade and conquer Israel. The king sent spies to collect the latest information about Israel, where the Israel armies were located, and what’s the weakness of the Israel armies, etc. Then he carefully made a war plan with his trusted generals. He kept the war plan secret. Following morning, he led his armies, and marched to the place where the Israel armies would camp. However, when he arrived at the place to conduct his surprise attack, he could not find one single Israel soldier. It was a big disappointment to the king of Aram. He returned to his camp empty handed. He called the spies and investigated, but he could not find anything wrong. The spies brought a correct intel. His war plan was perfect. He could not understand.
He was not deterred by this mysterious event, and he made another plan carefully and with even more secrecy. He marched to the place where he thought that Israel armies would camp, but he could not find any Israel armies again. With persistency, he made yet another war plan with more time and effort with ever tightening secrecy. He took his armies and got to the place to surprise Israel armies, and destroy them. Again, he found none. He got mad while returning to his camp again empty handed. He, then, realized that Elisha, Israel’s prophet, told to the king of Israel even before he mobilized his armies to make a surprise attack. Thus, he decided to capture Elisha.
The king of Aram immediately sent spies, and they found Elisha staying in Dothan. As soon as the king received this intel, he sent his most trusted general with his armies. The general, then, surrounded the city of Dothan, where Elisha was. Elisha’s servant was terrified over the Aramean armies. But Elisha was calm. In prayer, Elisha saw the armies of angels, who outnumbered the Aramean armies. Elisha prayed to open his servant’s eyes, and his servant also saw the armies of the angels.
Then Elisha prayed to God as the Aramean armies advanced toward him. God struck the Aramean armies, and made them blind. The Aramean armies did not know what to do, and Elisha led them the blind Aramean armies to a fortified city in Samaria. When their eyes were opened, the Aramean armies realized they were surrounded by Israel armies in a fortified city. The Aramean armies initially came and surrounded the city of Dothan to capture Elisha. Now they became captives. Then Elisha told to the king of Israel, “Give them food and drink and send them home again to their master.” The king of Israel made a great feast for the Aramean armies and then sent them home to their master.
God heard the pray of Elisha, and God gave a victory. Elisha and the king of Israel was able to be generous to the Aramean armies by giving a feast for the Aramean armies, and sending home safely. God hand was bigger and more powerful than the mighty Aramean armies.
God loves our generosity to others including our enemies. When we get blessings from God, we should be generous to all and especially to our enemies so that we can heap burning coals on our enemy’s head.
If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat,
and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink,
for you will heap burning coals on his head,
and the LORD will reward you. (Proverbs 25:12-22)
Unfortunately, people of this world are not so wise, and repeat same mistakes again and again. The king of Aram was not so much different. Sometime later, King of Aram mustered his entire army and besieged Samaria.
As a result, there was a great famine in the city. The siege lasted so long that there was no food left. Even a donkey’s head was sold as food, which costed eighty pieces of silver. A cup of dove’s dung was sold for five pieces of silver. The life in the city of Samaria was miserable.
People came to the king and asked food, but the king could not do anything. He answered,
“If the LORD doesn’t help you, what can I do? I have neither food from the threshing floor nor wine from the press to give you.” (2 Kings 6:27b)
The king answered frankly, but his answer was mixed with his suffering, his heart pain, and his resentment on himself as well as to God. He waited for God, but he did not hear anything from God. He still remembered the victory provided by God, and what he did to the Aramean armies trapped in the city of Samaria. Per God’s instruction, he was generous to the captives, and sent them home safely. Now he felt that he was paying for his generosity instead. He even could not provide the basic necessity to his people such as food. He and his people were starving because they were under siege of the Aramean king and his armies, and it lasted so long. He was truly distressed. He did everything that he could do including breaking through the weakest part of the Aramean armies to get help from his allies, but none worked. He was stuck. It made him really depressed. Thus, whenever he heard his people’s pain, it just added more pain in his heart. He was helplessly watching that his heart was being torn apart again and again. He put sackcloth under his robe next to his skin so that nobody could see, but he was mourning before God.
The king prayed and prayed, but there was no answer. The reality that he saw and the people’s suffering did know how to leave them. He could not sit still in his palace. He walked along the wall. Then the people could see that he was wearing sackcloth under his robe next to his skin. Thus, the people also knew the king’s suffering. While walking on the wall, he got into a deep thought. He was generous even to his enemy. He prayed virtually every moment, and he expected good things in his life and his kingdom. But the reality was not turned out as he expected. He searched for an answer. But none was found. Only thing that made him going was his faith in God who would provide. But it did not happen. His kingdom was continuously in pain along with all people in his kingdom. Although he was the king of Israel, after all, he was just a lowly human being. Like others, he was under mercy of God. He asked again and again, “Why does God allow this misery and pain in my life and my kingdom?” He felt his prayer from his mouth just vanished to thin air with reaching nowhere. He was truly devastated.
One day, one of his people reported that people ate their own child. He was shocked. Some of this people did something unthinkable. This, initially, made him mad, but it put him into a deep sorrow. It was the saddest day in his life. In despair, he tore his clothes. He finally said,
“May God deal with me, be it ever so severely, if the head of Elisha son of Shaphat remains on his shoulders today!” (2 Kings 6:31b)
The king of Israel poured out his extreme frustration. He even challenged God for not hearing his prayer. Indeed, he kept quiet for long time patiently, but God did not answer. The situation in his kingdom had gone too far. Now, he could not stand still anymore. Additionally, something unthinkable had actually happened in his kingdom. Only was the only reason that there was no food in his kingdom. And the food shortage was caused by the Aramean armies, whom he treated generously following God’s command. With a good heart and faith, he prayed day and night without ceasing. He expected that the situation would improve or at least there would be a sign that God was working behind the scene for his prayer. None. Absolutely none found. Instead, the situation was getting worse day by day until hitting the bottom. His heart was completely broken down. Although he calmly had spoken, but his heart was, indeed, screaming. He knew he hit the limit, and he could not go any further. Then without being noticed, his heart raced for searching a scapegoat. (This is a sad manifestation of our sinful nature.) Then he poured out all blames on the scapegoat. The scapegoat was Elisha, the God prophet in his kingdom. The king could even justify his scapegoat because Elisha was the one who asked him to be generous to the Aramean armies trapped in his own city and surrounded by his own armies. At that moment, he could have had completely wiped out the entire Aramean armies. Instead, he believed God, and God’s message of Elisha. His heart was completely sold to his own sinful thought that Elisha was the source of all of the problems, who made him and his kingdom suffer.
Then the king quickly called in his most trusted and capable officer, whom the king always leaned on. The king gave a message to the officer, and sent to Elisha. The king’s message was
“This disaster is from the Lord. Why should I wait for the Lord any longer?” (2 Kings 6:33b)
Indeed, the king of Israel softened his heart before writing his message. While writing the message, he came to himself. As regaining himself, he realized that God was the only hope. Surly, his heart was so heavy. His praying heart was dried up. He was in despair. Even so, as sending his message, he prayed to God, “This is the only hope that I can have now.” He put his last hope in God by sending his message to Elisha.
Jesus experienced the similar situation. He knew the time came to take the cross for all both His disciples and us. Then he took Peter, John and James, whom he most trusted, and went up to Gethsemane. He was in agony before the cross. He prayed. And being in agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground. Jesus asked His disciples to pray together with Him.
“My soul is deeply grieved, to the point of death; remain here and keep watch with Me.” (Matthew 26:38b)
Sometimes our life storm hit us. We pray, and pray, but the life storm does not calm down, but it is getting stronger in every sense. Even something unthinkable happens while we are earnestly praying to God. The non-stopping life storm completely wears us out like the king of Israel and Jesus. Then what should we do? As the king of Israel and Jesus did, we should ask our beloved brothers and sisters to pray together,
A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken. (Ecclesiastes 4:12)
With our beloved brothers and sisters’ prayers, we can go through the darkest moment in our lives. Therefore, it is really important for us to pray for our fellow Christian brothers and sisters who are suffering from their own life storms. Of course, we should not limit our prayer to Christians only, but we also should pray for non-Christian brothers and sisters who are struggling in their lift storm. Most of all, we continue praying for their eternal salvation in God because we know their inner persons are slowly dying without knowing God.
Unfortunately, Jesus’ three disciples failed miserably. They could not pray together with Jesus. Instead they slept. Jesus was alone before the agony of cross quickly approaching to Him. Indeed, Jesus came twice to the disciples, and found them sleep. Jesus made them wake up to pray together with Him. As Jesus was praying, all three disciples slept again. Jesus told them,
“So, you men could not keep watch with Me for one hour? Keep watching and praying that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (Matthew 26:40b)
This tells how difficult to pray. Many people casually think praying is easy. No, it is not. Although it is not physically demanding, it is spiritually demanding. Why? Praying is a spiritual battle. Jesus told to his disciples: watch and pray. Here is Satan’s tactic. When our prayer is needed most, Satan does not leave us alone, and tempts us. Even Satan secretly insert his own voice in our ear to make us doubt of God’s goodness. Instead Satan pumps us up by reminding our generosity to our enemy as the king of Israel did to the Aramean armies. The goal is to separate us from God. Of course, we have to resist.
So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. (James 4:7)
What had the king of Israel actually done? Did he send his initially utterance from his heart while making the prophet Elisha as his scapegoat? No, he quickly humbled himself and he focused on himself and authentically expressed his heart by telling the dire situation without hiding anything. Therefore, when we meet such a difficult situation as the king of Israel had experienced, we should tell authentically to God including our inner struggles. God, who is full of mercy, hears our heartbreaking pray in cry, and answers to us.
Let’s back to the story. Before the officer with the king’s message arrived, God made Elisha known that the king’s officer would come to see him with the king’s message. God also provided answer for Elisha mostly concerning about the king’s message, which was, in fact, the king’s heartful prayer.
As soon as the officer with the King’s message arrived, Elisha told to the officer
“Listen to this message from the LORD! This is what the LORD says: By this time tomorrow in the markets of Samaria, six quarts of choice flour will cost only one piece of silver, and twelve quarts of barley grain will cost only one piece of silver.” (2 Kings 7:1b)
The officer assisting the king said to the man of God,
“That couldn’t happen even if the LORD opened the windows of heaven!” (2 King 7:2b)
The officer exactly knew the situation in the city of Samaria. Even a cup of pigeon’s dung was sold for five paces of silver. “By this time tomorrow in the markets of Samaria, six quarts of choice flour will cost only one piece of silver, and twelve quarts of barley grain will cost only one piece of silver?” The king’s officer could not believe what was told because it was absolutely impossible. He made smile on his face. He was talking in his heart, “What an absurd story! In order that six quarts of choice flour be sold at only one piece of silver, the whole city should have been filled with choice flour abundantly so that anybody can buy with such a small amount of money. Look. Even pigeon’s dung is sold for five silver coins. Are you out of mind? Or perhaps you don’t know what’s really going in the city of Samaria.” Then the officer carefully looked at Elisha’s eyes to see what would be Elisha’s response.
But Elisha replied,
“You will see it happen with your own eyes, but you won’t be able to eat any of it!” (2 King 7:2c)
Elisha confirmed God’s message again, but he prophesized what would happen to the office who did not believe. Indeed, the following day, the prices of choice flour and barley grains became as low as being told by Elisha, which was God’s answer to the king’s prayer. Yes, nothing is impossible to God. Also, as prophesized, the office could not even taste any of the abundance of the flour and the barley grains that God provided.
God is always with us, and He hears us, especially our authentic prayer oozing up from the very center of our hearts in times of needs. God heard the king’s prayer, but the king did not know the fact that God was listening to his prayers. Finally, he realized after he sent his officer to Elisha in prayer as his last hope. It is true that we feel that our God does not hear our prayer at all when we cry out to God during our life storm. This is just our feeling. In fact, God hears carefully and attentively our prayers with His mercy and love. Thus, we should come boldly and confidently into God’s presence with our prayers. We should not look at the things happening around us, but we fix our eyes on Him with prayer without losing our faith. Then God provides in His mercy, grace, and love according to His infinitely goodness. Thus, we should encourage each other in prayers while bringing our brothers and sisters suffering from their life storms to God so that together we can move forward following the footsteps of Jesus Christ. This is our hope and faith in Him. Give thanks to God, Our Ever-Loving God! He hears our prayers even at this moment with His love and care. Praise Him!
Because of Christ and our faith in him, we can now come boldly and confidently into God’s presence. (Ephesians 3:12)
We’d like to share about how to wisely respond to the current worldwide Coronavirus pandemic. First, except our own family living together, consider all others as a potential source of transmitting the Coronavirus because people who are asymptomatic (no symptom of Coronavirus at all) can carry and transmit the virus. Thus, please avoid a physical contact with others, and maintain distance about two meters (or six feet). This social distancing saves lives. Please wash hands with soap about 20 seconds to wash out the Coronavirus that might be on our hands. Our hand skin is pretty thick and it protects well against the Coronavirus, but our hands frequently touch our mouth, then the Coronavirus on our hands will go into our body. We should prevent this type of infection by our own hands.
Most of all, this is the time to have a quality time with our own family and with God, Our Ever-Loving Father with prayers, and reading and medicating Bible every day. Please fix eyes on Jesus, who is the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, and follow the foot step of Jesus Christ together with our own families in this difficult time. When this Coronavirus pandemic is over, we will all find that we are one step closer to each other among our own family members in Christ’s love and have a deeper relationship with God. Then we will go out and share this Good News with our neighbors and even strangers.
May God’s grace, protection, healing on all and especially for those who are physically suffering from the Coronavirus and those who are mourning for the loss of the loved ones due to the Coronavirus.