WHEN TROUBLE HITS, WHAT ARE WE TO DO?
I. Open our ears
II. Open our eyes
2 Kings 6:15-17 (CSB) 15 When the servant of the man of God got up early and went out, he discovered an army with horses and chariots surrounding the city. So he asked Elisha, “Oh, my master, what are we to do?” 16 Elisha said, “Don’t be afraid, for those who are with us outnumber those who are with them.” 17 Then Elisha prayed, “Lord, please open his eyes and let him see.” So the Lord opened the servant’s eyes. He looked and saw that the mountain was covered with horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.
In the name of Jesus Christ, able and willing to protect us because he is risen from the dead, dear Christian friends,
What are we to do? This is the question people ask after they move to the middle of Tornado Alley in the Great Plains of the United States and they get word that an f5 tornado is barreling toward them, their loved ones and all their possessions. This is the question people ask when they hear that the school where their children are attending has been invaded by a mentally ill former student now armed with a cache of guns and ammunition.
As far as I know, thankfully, none of us have had to face those situations and therefore have not had to ask that question. But we have faced many situations that lead us to ask the same question. What are we to do… when the diagnosis for a loved one is cancer, when our house burns down, when a friend is called back for another tour of duty?
What are we to do? This is the question Elisha’s servant asked in today’s reading before us. The answers he received are answers we have also received from our merciful and mighty God and can learn to follow. So, WHEN TROUBLE HITS, WHAT ARE WE TO DO? I. Open our ears II. Open our eyes.
In order to understand the situation, here is the account leading up to our text (2 Kings 6:8-14): When the king of Aram was waging war against Israel, he conferred with his servants, “My camp will be at such and such a place.” But the man of God [Elijah] sent word to the king of Israel: “Be careful passing by this place, for the Arameans are going down there.” Consequently, the king of Israel sent word to the place the man of God had told him about. The man of God repeatedly warned the king, so the king would be on his guard. The king of Aram was enraged because of this matter, and he called his servants and demanded of them, “Tell me, which one of us is for the king of Israel?” One of his servants said, “No one, my lord the king. Elisha, the prophet in Israel, tells the king of Israel even the words you speak in your bedroom.” So the king said, “Go and see where he is, so I can send men to capture him.” When he was told, “Elisha is in Dothan,” he sent horses, chariots, and a massive army there. They went by night and surrounded the city.
The Aramean king, probably Ben-Hadad II, was extremely ticked that Israel’s ally and God’s prophet Elisha knew where he was going to be even before he got there. King Ben-Hadad II wanted Elisha captured immediately to prohibit him from giving away his secrets. He didn’t mess around, sending horses, chariots, and a massive army to capture one man.
Here is another situation you and I have probably never been in before. Outnumbered, and seemingly, outmatched by a massive army, what would Elisha and his servant do? Let’s listen in because we can learn what to do in situations we will face.
When the servant of the man of God got up early and went out, he discovered an army with horses and chariots surrounding the city. So he asked Elisha, “Oh, my master, what are we to do?” Elisha said, “Don’t be afraid, for those who are with us outnumber those who are with them.”
How many times has God told his people “don’t be afraid”? Hundreds of times and at some pretty significant times as well, right? At the first Christmas to announce to shepherds’ trembling hearts that a Savior was born for them and for the world. At the first Easter to assure the shocked and confused women at the grave that the once-dead Jesus was now alive.
Obviously, God knows his people have a penchant for fear. You and I also fear easily. There are plenty of phobias diagnosed and undiagnosed among us, each one of them revealing a chink in the armor of our faith, each one of them needing God’s strength and forgiveness. There are plenty of financial and health and relationship concerns that crop up in our lives that lead us to fear and wonder, what are we to do?
What are we to do when finances fail? What are we to do when fitness flops? What are we to do when friends turn into foes?
The temptation is to get angry with God or to question him or to give up on him. “God, how could you do this?” “God, don’t you love me?” “God, aren’t you powerful enough to keep this from happening?”
Instead, let’s listen to our God who removes all our fears and who renounces all our failures with his forgiveness! Let’s open our ears to hear his promises: “Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you” (He 13:5); “I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” (Is 41:10); “He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die” (Jn 11:25-26). As we heard in the second lesson today, “Let anyone who has ears to hear listen to what the Spirit says to the churches” (Revelation 3:22 CSB).
Elisha’s servant was not only to listen, he was also to look. Then Elisha prayed, “Lord, please open his eyes and let him see.” So the Lord opened the servant’s eyes. He looked and saw that the mountain was covered with horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.
Let’s open our eyes to see what God has in store for us! Will we see angel armies surrounding us? Yes, maybe not like Elisha’s servant saw or like New Testament Stephen saw (Ac 7:56), but through God’s promise we can see them through eyes of faith: “for he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone” (Ps 91:11-12).
Let’s open our eyes to see a Savior perfect in action, innocent in crucifixion and triumphant in resurrection. Let’s open our eyes to see the forgiveness he won for us and grants to us as we come to him in repentance. Let’s open our eyes to see the way he controls the weather, governs the nations and rules each individual life.
Today’s three lessons focus on how our risen Lord Jesus inspires us to love, obey and trust. Jesus’ disciples were taught to love in order to keep his Word. The Laodicean congregation was taught to obey in order to be on fire for the LORD. Elisha and his servant were taught to trust in order to be strong and victorious. Make sure your ears and eyes are wide open so that when trouble hits, you know what to do— love, obey and trust your risen Lord and Savior Jesus!
Today’s lesson ends with the LORD answering the prayer of his prophet Elisha and striking the Aramean soldiers with blindness. He then leads them right into the heart of Israelite territory— the capital city of Samaria. Instead of killing them, the Israelite king Joram prepared a great feast for them and sent them on their way. This approach of “killing them with kindness” led “the bands from Aram to stop raiding Israel’s territory” (2 Kgs 6:23).
As we open our eyes, will we see earthly victories over every unbeliever and wicked person? Maybe not in the way Elisha and his servant saw it, but certainly in God’s promise that “he will rescue us from every evil attack and will bring us safely to his heavenly kingdom” (2 Tm 4:18).
When trouble hits, what are we to do? Open our ears and listen to our risen Lord and Savior Jesus assure us of his love and forgiveness. Open our eyes and watch our risen Lord and Savior Jesus protect us and take us to our heavenly home.