II Kings 3:1-8 sets the stage for today’s edition of Peace in the Storm, but rather than retype it here, I invite you to read it for yourself. (You can find it online here if you’d rather not pull out your Bible.)
Picking up at verse 9, we find three kings (of Israel, Judah and Edom) headed for battle. Seven days into their march, they’ve come to a dry land, where there is no water for their army or for their animals (and remember that animals at this time served as key components of a military campaign).
The king of Israel cries out, “The LORD has brought the three of us here to let the king of Moab defeat us.” (Moab was their target in this attack.)
As if to say, “Wait just a minute here! We aren’t going down like that!” the king of Judah suggests that they inquire of the Lord about what they should do. They come to Elisha, a prophet of the Lord, and he shares this message from God:
“This is what the LORD says: Make this valley full of ditches. 17 For this is what the LORD says: You will see neither wind nor rain, yet this valley will be filled with water, and you, your cattle and your other animals will drink. 18 This is an easy thing in the eyes of the LORD; he will also hand Moab over to you. 19 You will overthrow every fortified city and every major town. You will cut down every good tree, stop up all the springs, and ruin every good field with stones.”
II Kings 3:16-19 (NIV)
Wow! I wonder what the king of Israel thought when he heard that? He figured God had brought them there to die, but God says, in effect – with no regard for the king’s lack of faith – that “not only am I going to take care of your water problem, but I’m going to give you a victory beyond what you could have hoped for.” And as if that’s not impressive enough, Elisha interjects: “this is only a simple thing for the LORD” (NLT).
Have you ever come to a place where you thought, “This is it, I’m going to die here?” As we get older, our tolerance for adversity increases, so where that “place” is shifts. For a young child, it may come when sitting in a high-chair staring at a bowl of broccoli. As a teenager, it may come while staring at a computer screen trying to type a 10-page paper. As an adult, it may come each morning when approaching the door at work!
I was at one of those places where I was having trouble finding the “light” when I first read this passage last year. I wasn’t looking for an encouraging message at the moment. I had begun reading through the Old Testament – starting with Genesis – several months prior, and II Kings 3 just happened to be on tap this particular day. What a wonderful thing when you find the perfect message at the perfect time. For several weeks later, I kept replaying this story over and over in my head and I was encouraged.
We must never forget: our God specializes in the impossible! Even in the darkest hour, when it seems that there is no relief in sight, God is there just waiting for us to turn to Him, as the king of Judah did, and to trust Him, as they did when they dug the ditches. Then God can do what only God can do. Without the use of rain or wind, the Scripture records that the next morning, the land was filled with water. Our God is an awesome God!
At the same time we’re looking at God’s greatness in this story, we can also learn some lessons about ourselves. Did you notice any parallels between the king of Israel and the way we often live our lives? When faced with an undeniably bad situation, he could only see things in human terms: “no water” equaled “we will die.” He didn’t give God a chance to come to the rescue. Instead of believing God could – or would – save them, he blamed God for getting them into the situation in the first place (which He didn’t). Have you ever responded similarly to a circumstance?
The king of Judah, on the other hand, gives us an example of how God desires for us to live our lives. He was in the exact same scenario as the king of Israel, but he didn’t buy into that fatalistic thinking. Instead, he wanted to hear from God. And I have to believe that God was just waiting for the invitation to talk to them so He could show them that He did indeed have a plan – and a great plan for their victory, at that.
God has a plan for your victory and mine, too, and we can be sure of it. For the fulfillment of that plan, all He asks is that we seek Him – which practically translates to doing things such as reading the Bible, praying, going to church, and surrounding ourselves with good Christian advisors (a.k.a. friends) – and trust Him and follow His ways.
In closing, I’ll state the obvious: this three-step formula does not guarantee that our deliverance will come the next morning as it did for the three kings. That’s why trust is such an important part of the equation. Let us not be so quick to blame the Lord as the king of Israel did. The delay of our deliverance does not indicate that God does not love us, or that we are in a situation He cannot resolve.
When we seek, trust and follow Him, we can know we are moving toward the place where God wants us to be, and on that journey we can rest at peace knowing that our Father is with us every step of the way, and He will provide for all we need to endure.