There is a very strange story in 2nd Kings.
It goes something like this. The Syrian king, who was warring against Israel at the time, set his mind upon surrounding Elisha and seizing him. He had good reason to believe that Elisha, a prophet – a man of God, was warning the king of Israel of Syria’s plans, thus saving Israel from the hands of the Syrians on occasions.
One night, the Syrian king sent his armies to surround the city of Dothan, where Elisha was. The next morning, Elisha’s servant rose early and went outside. Much to his dismay, he saw they were completely surrounded. No hope. The situation looked desperate.
In panic, the servant approached Elisha–“What are we going to do???”; in complete panic. Who wouldn’t be panicked? The situation was dire. The situation was bleak.
But here is where it gets strange. Elisha responds to his servant in this way:
I’m sure the servant was bewildered. What in the world was Elisha talking about? Those who are with us are more than those who are with them?? But we are all alone Elisha!! Have you lost your mind??
An then it gets–as if it could–even stranger, for Elijah prays:
See what? What on earth was there to see besides being completely surrounded by the Syrians with no hope of escape?
But then God answers. He answers and He opens the servants eyes. And what the servant sees belies explanation. It is surreal. It is shocking. Take a look:
God supernaturally opened the eyes of this young servant, showing him what could not be seen with earthly eyes–that he and Elisha were surrounded by the horses and chariots of fire–a larger army than that which surrounded them and threatened them from Syria.
This battle was won. Before it even began.
Chris Tomlin has a song titled “Whom Shall I Fear?” Part of the chorus goes like this (you can click on the lyrics to be taken to the YouTube Recording of the Song)
And so I’ve thought a lot about this over the past few days–I’ve thought and studied this story. I’ve considered the truth of it. I’ve considered the battles I have been fighting over the last few weeks. I’ve even take a brief–very brief–look at the idea of angels, though I’m still not sure what I think theologically about that. I still have much to chew on where that subject is concerned.
However, one of the ideas I have settled upon is this: I often talk about fighting hard. Fighting hard to push forward. Fighting hard to parent well, to keep moving. But I don’t think I’ve thought much about the idea of God fighting on my behalf.
I’ve thought much about Jesus interceding for me, and about the verses that proclaim that as truth. And I’ve gained much comfort from those; well, that sounds underwhelming. Let me change that to say that I have DEPENDED on that intercession of the Holy Spirit and of Jesus, particularly when I have no words for my soul.
But this passage in 2nd Kings has brought to mind that not only does my Jesus pray for me, but He fights for me. When I speak of fighting, I am usually referring to my own sheer will to fight. If I work hard enough—-if I try hard enough—-if I do this, do that. And it does take a fight from me. But I am not fighting this battle alone. And neither are you.
If God can send an army of fiery chariots and horses to Elisha’s aid, will He not fight for me, as well? Will He not fight for you?
In Chris Tomlin’s song, my favorite line is: The One who reigns forever, He is a friend of mine! A friend! This God who commands fiery horses and chariots, who is the God of angel armies, is a friend of mine. Whew.
One caveat—like I said before, I don’t know what my theology or belief is about the role of angels. And I don’t really care. It’s not something I worry about. But what I do want to grasp is that I do not fight alone. No, my Jesus fights for me.
And so, on the days when it is hard to fight, I want to remind myself that I do not fight this battle alone. I am not alone. You are not alone. I can get out of bed, and spend time with my Father before the day begins, knowing that whatever lies before me that day will NOT be a surprise to my God. That, by itself, is hugely comforting.
And do you remember what Elisha told his servant?? He told him “Do not fear.” Do not fear–how gripped I am with paralyzing fear at times, especially when facing these battles. But Elisha’s servant is told “Do not be afraid.” And we, as followers of Christ, are told over and over throughout scripture “Do not be afraid.” Good grief, my soul……
And so as I push and fight my way out of the depths of the past 3-4 weeks–the deep darkness of those weeks–I see small little battles being won. With God’s help. Oh, the war is still on, but the skirmishes are starting to turn back in my favor somewhat. With God’s help–literally–I left the house Saturday night and took my kids to a play. That led to the ability to leave my house Sunday morning for worship, enabling me to hear my friend Brad Russell preach for the first time in many years (we were at the same church in Kansas City). This led to winning the battle to attend worship Team practice. And the small battles continue to be fought and won. Get up. Stick to personal and spiritual disciplines. Work hard. Parent well. Pressing forward. Pushing out of this pit. But not on my own power alone, but by the grace of my God who fights for me, and loves me with His steadfast love, giving me the strength to Stand Fast.
And He longs to show you His steadfast love as well, and to fight on your behalf, the battles that lay before you.