Having spent what seems to me a great deal of time in hospital emergency rooms, I have learned to appreciate to some extent the solemnity associated with them. The experience not being exactly a barrel of laughs, sitting with someone in an ER can easily remind one of the fragility of life.
While we can make all sorts of assumptions about life in general or develop very complex ideas about what really is important, real crisis can force refocusing: refocusing of priorities, refocusing on our place in the world, and refocusing on how we should have invested the life given to us.
And although we can develop tunnel-vision in the journey of living and neglect others or even our own eternal destiny (to our ultimate and utter ruin), crisis has the potential of establishing a whole new perspective for us.
We may at one moment be planning our next day’s agenda and in the next, after a brutal accident, be wondering if we’ll ever be able to walk again. We may on one day be thinking about getting the entertainment system we’ve always dreamed of and then after being laid off, be wondering how long we might be able to count on our unemployment checks. Or we may on one evening be thinking that our spouse is nearly the most exasperating person in the world and then find our hearts breaking the next morning when the doctor sadly says, “I’m sorry. There’s nothing more I can do.”
When Sennacherib, king of the Assyrian Empire, invades King Hezekiah’s land of Judah, Hezekiah does all he can physically do to prepare (which isn’t enough) and then calls his people together. Having them assembled before him in the city square a the city gate, the Bible says that he encouraged them with these words: “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or dismayed before of the king of Assyria and all the horde that is with him, for there are more with us than with him. With him is an arm of flesh, but with us is the LORD our God, to help us and to fight our battles.’ And the people took confidence from the words of Hezekiah king of Judah” (2 Chronicles 32:7-8 ESV).
Read just a little further in that chapter to see HOW God delivers Hezekiah and the people of Judah, though Sennacherib taunts Hezekiah and blasphemes God. Verse 22 contradicts any grand claims Hezekiah’s army officers might have been tempted to make by saying simply, “So the LORD saved Hezekiah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem from the hand of Sennacherib king of Assyria and from the hand of his enemies, and He for them on every side.”
In a national emergency, Hezekiah did the very best thing he could have done. He turned to God. As a good king, he did all he could to prepare, but, in the end, he knew and proclaimed that there was only One Who had the power to deliver his people. Here’s a lesson we as Americans should continually take to heart, immersed as we are in the raging storm of moral chaos and confusion.
Lest we think that such principles do not apply to our own lives, consider another defining moment in Hezekiah’s life: personal illness to the point of death. In 2 Kings chapter 20, the Scriptures describe a malady that very nearly takes Hezekiah’s life. While 2 Chronicles 32:24-26 describes the illness as a chastening of God on Hezekiah’s pride and lack of responsiveness (it’s funny how unresponsive we can be to God’s mercy), 2 Kings elaborates on how Hezekiah finally does respond to this new and very personal crisis in his life: turning to God in humility and faith. God hears his cries and sees his tears (very real evidence of very real faith) and honors his request.
While we cannot say that God will answer our prayers the ways that we always ask or demand, if we will trust Him with our lives, He can turn evil around for good, pain into solace, and sorrow to joy.
What should one say then when his or her plans go awry? What does he do when his strength is not enough to save him? To whom does she turn when she finds herself alone and broken?
Where do YOU turn when your world comes crashing down around you? Do you rely on your own ingenuity to save you? Do you look to others to bail you out of your plight or start searching for proverbial escapes hatches? Do you perhaps begin to plot remedies and retaliations as the bitter bile of hurt and anger bubbles up in your soul?
Would you not allow such crises to reorganize your priorities and plans? Wouldn’t you like to think that you’d stop what you were doing and begin to focus on those things that really matter, so that a legacy that will outlast you might remain behind?
But why wait until crisis comes calling? Why not live our lives prioritized His way from the “get-go”, knowing that there is no promise of a tomorrow? Even now let us seek to allow God’s priorities become our priorities. His Son, His Church, your family and your service to Him wherever you live work and play, are all urgently important to Him. May they be so for us, too.
“Now may the God of peace Who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great Shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do His will, working in us that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to Whom be glory forever and ever. Amen” (Hebrews 13:20-21 ESV).
(Thom Mollohan and his family have ministered in southern Ohio the past 24 ½ years, is the author of Led by Grace, The Fairy Tale Parables, Crimson Harvest, and A Heart at Home with God. He blogs at “unfurledsails.wordpress.com.” Pastor Thom leads Pathway Community Church and may be reached for comments or questions by email at firstname.lastname@example.org).