Have you ever considered that when we are afraid, the temptation that comes along with it is to think that we are also alone?
Marriages fail sometimes. Homes break apart. Jobs are lost. The very ground that we walk on begins to feel unstable. Structures that we counted on to remain stalwart crumble.
Again, often the first temptation that we fall for is the belief that we are all alone. This feeling can be mortifying.
Once upon a time, back in the day, the king of Aram was at war with the king of Israel. Elisha the prophet continually notified the king of Israel any time danger was on the horizon, so the king was able to adjust accordingly.
This infuriated the king of Aram and to rub salt in his wounds, one of his officers sarcastically said, “Elisha the prophet tells the king of Israel the words you speak in your bedroom (2 Kings 6:12)!”
(That really poked him!)
Well, the king of Aram found his straw, that last one; and, the molasses jug broke! The king of Aram had Elisha tracked down at the city of Dothan and then surrounded the place with chariots and horses.
In a scene reminiscent of a sitcom, Elisha’s servant begins to panic and run around like a chicken with its head cut off shouting, “Oh my Lord! What are we going to do now (1 Kings 6:15b)?”
As cool as a cucumber, Elisha told his servant, “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them (2 Kings 6:16).”
In his fear, in his panicking, Elisha’s servant fell to the temptation that they were all alone. Once Elisha redirected his gaze, the Lord opened his eyes and immediately he saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.
This text has always filled me with yet more questions:
Was this an angelic force sent from heaven?
Had this force been present all along?
Could only Elisha see it?
Are these same forces present for us today?
Is our world so noisy and so prideful that we are distracted from seeing these forces behind us?
I will skip right to the end of this story. The army of the king of Aram was defeated but not in a way that the world considers a victory.
The king of Israel prepared a feast for the army of Aram. They all sat down for a meal, exchanged pleasantries and joy was shared.
Next, the king of Israel sent the army of Aram home and when they told their king of their treatment by Israel, all hostilities ended. There was finally peace in the valley. (2 Kings 6:23)
Ironically, the time of greatest fear for the city of Dothan was also the time of their greatest safety. Their focus was on their fear and not on the Lord.
One more time I say that frequently when we are afraid, we can fall into the temptation that we are also all alone, left to our own devices. We may even think that no one cares; we’re just all on our own.
Elisha may have lived a very long time ago but the Lord that watched over him is the same Lord who watches over us. The Divine Holy Other is always watching over us.
For a variety of reasons we may not be able to see or hear God. Nonetheless, this does not mean that God is not present.
I feel that nowadays we have come to rely too heavily upon manmade systems and devices for our own good. At some point, they will always fail us.
At the end of the day, God will always be there. And, God has this curious knack of even using evil for good.
“Come and see,” as Philip said to Nathaniel. (John 1:46)