They That Be With Us
2 Kings 5:2 - 2 Kings 9:18
Have you ever had one of those moments when you are doing your best, giving your all, trying to make a difference––and yet it seems like the world is conspiring against you?
In those moments, even when we are on the Lord's errand, perhaps we feel twinges of doubt.
Enough doubt that even our hearts fail us.
In times like those, where is it that we look for hope? For the courage to press forward? For strength to go on?
I love the lesson taught in 2 Kings chapter six.
In this chapter we are told that the king of Syria warred against Israel. My imagination contrives a constant battle. Ongoing. Tiring. I have known moments like that. When it seems someone has a constant agenda to fight against all that I am trying to accomplish.
In this case, the prophet is on Israel's side. True to his calling, he sends direction and warning. His counsel is given as protection. The king of Israel followed this prophet's advice and his life was spared "not once nor twice." (vs. 10) We are led to believe that his life was spared every time he followed the counsel of the prophet.
I see a lesson there. An example from the Old Testament that speaks to me today.
It doesn't take long before the King of Syria becomes frustrated. He wonders if there is a spy in his camp. One of his servants points out that Elisha is the one getting in the way of his plan to destroy Israel. So he decides to capture Elisha.
When he finds out Elisha is in Doran, the king sends "horses and chariots, and a great host: and they came by night, and compassed the city about." (vs. 14)
I can imagine the servant of the prophet rising early that next morning. I picture him preparing for the journey ahead, gathering supplies for the trek to Samaria. I can understand the worry that must have filled his heart after seeing that the city was encompassed round about. I can almost hear the fear in his voice as he approaches Elisha, "Alas, my master! how shall we do?" (vs.15)
It becomes real to me because I have felt that worry, that sense of imminent defeat, the fear that I am not enough to face the task in front of me. There have been times in my life when my purpose seems to be threatened by what appears to be an enemy much stronger and more organized than I am.
I love what happens in this crucial moment.
Elisha replies with confidence, "Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them." (vs. 16)
And then he prayed.
And he asked the Lord to fulfill the request we learned about yesterday, "open his eyes, that he might see." (vs.17)
So the Lord opened the eyes of the servant, and he beheld that the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire.
Within this story we are taught a principle that we must never forget. The unseen presence of God and of His help is real. If our eyes could be opened to see, we would realize that we do not ever wage a battle for righteousness alone. The Lord is with us, Heavenly help attends us. This knowledge alone should give us all the encouragement we need to move forward.
With the help of the Lord, Elisha and his servant were able to make it safely to Samaria, leading the Syrian army captive behind them. Safely protected by the Lord, they accomplished an unbelievable feat without weapons, without even the help of an army. Simply with the assistance of the Lord. Heaven's help.
I love the condition of Elisha's heart at the end of this remarkable journey. The king of Israel asked Elisha when he saw him, "Shall I smite them? Shall I smite them? And he answered, Thou shalt not smite them...set bread and water before them, that they may eat and drink and go to their master." (vs. 21-22)
I wonder if my heart is in the same place? ...Because it seems like perhaps my heart would not be so kind. There have been those who have tried to frustrate my purpose, caused me to doubt, who have fought against what is in my heart. My first inclination seems to lean toward revenge or retribution. My first instinct is not always kindness or compassion.
Perhaps it is Heaven's help that I must turn to in these moments also. Maybe, once again, I need to pray to the Lord that He might open my eyes to see.
Today I want to take two lessons into my heart.
The first is to remember that Heaven's help is real. I must learn to trust the unseen. To rely on the certain presence of God's help even when my mortal eyes can't comprehend it. I am coming to believe that those who trust in the reality of Heaven's help can accomplish great things. They become Saints who press forward with faith in every footstep. Faith built upon the reality of Heaven's help.
I love the testimony of this principle that is captured in a painting by Annie Henrie. It is my great privilege this year to use this painting in a presentation I will be doing for Time Out For Women. It depicts a moment of great courage, of pressing forward, of relying on Heaven's help.
I can't help but think of Elisha's words every time I see it, ""Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them."
They that be with us...
And I wonder if those pioneer women ever had an opportunity to witness for themselves the Heavenly help that surely attended them?
Is that where they found hope? The courage to press forward? The strength to go on?
Can I also access that hope, courage, and strength by looking heavenward?
I am coming to believe that it is through the unseen presence of those that be with us, through their unfailing strength, that we can overcome any obstacle in our path.
And as we move forward past those who might frustrate our purpose, perhaps we could learn from Elisha and treat them less as enemies, and more with generosity ––with the great hope that through us they, too, will come to know the unfailing help of the Lord.
...they that be with us.