September 2014


Ability to See

“So the Lord opened the eyes of the servant and he saw—the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire.”                                    2 Kings 6:17                                                                   

God is doing more in the world than we know. And God is more present when we need help than we sometimes remember.

The king of Aram (2 Kings 6) was angry with Elisha the prophet because Elisha always knew the harm Aram was planning, and always told the king of Israel so that Israel could avoid Aram’s oppression. So Aram sent an army to seize Elisha. The army arrived at night and surrounded Elisha’s village and his house. In the morning Elisha’s servant rose early, went outside, and discovered the Aramean army surrounding them. “Alas, Master,” he said to Elisha, “What shall we do?”

We have times like that in our lives, when something suddenly changes and we find ourselves in trouble or danger. Interference from authorities, bad news about health, a crisis that takes all our money, sudden help needed by a friend or by a Christian community near us. We cry out, “Alas. What shall we do?”

Elisha’s answer to his servant was “Don’t be afraid.” Those words are one of the most repeated and consistent messages from God to His people. No matter what the circumstance, “Don’t be afraid,” even when things look bad and we don’t know how they will end. “Don’t be afraid.”

Why not? Because God is always with us. God has promised never to leave us or abandon us. Whatever we face, we do not face it alone. Even when we die, by the presence and power of Jesus, we live.

In the case of Elisha’s servant, Elisha says more. “Do not be afraid, because there are more with us than there are with them.” The servant probably looked around and counted two of “us” (Elisha and the servant), and hundreds of them. And not only more of them, but an army of them, with weapons and horses and chariots. Sometimes “Do not be afraid” does little to make us unafraid.

So Elisha prays. He says “Lord, open his eyes that he may see.” The Lord opens the servant’s eyes, and he sees the mountains around them filled with horses and chariots of fire, surrounding the Aramean army. There really were “more with us than with them.” I think that is always true for those who follow Jesus. Sometimes we just don’t have eyes to see. Sometimes God’s presence, and the presence of God’s agents of help, is not visible to the eye. But it is surely present nevertheless, and all the time. God does not abandon us in a time of need.

When Jesus was arrested (Matthew 26), one of his disciples tried to resist the arresting police with a sword. Jesus asked the disciple, “Don’t you know that I could appeal to my Father, who would immediately send me more than twelve legions of angels?” (26:58). Jesus could always see what we are seldom able to see with our human eyes. He knew that God is always present, always able to help those who follow him.  

Because we cannot see the help of God all around us as well as Jesus could see it, we need to pray for each other. A good prayer to pray would be Elisha’s prayer for his servant: “Lord, open his eyes. Lord, open her eyes. Lord, open our eyes—that we may see.” All around us, all the time, God’s help never leaves us.

Join me all month long to pray for each other, “Lord, open our eyes that we may see.”