The definition of a pessimist is you give him a polo mint and he’ll complain about the hole! By nature I am a pessimist. Among the great characters of literature, I relate best to Eeyore the donkey in Winnie the Pooh, or Puddlegum the Marshwiggle in the Narnia books, or those Shakespearean soothsayers who go around cheerfully declaring, “Woe, woe, and thrice woe!” My book on statistics tells me that the odds are at least 5 to 4 that the light at the end of the tunnel is going to be the headlamp of an approaching train. So you will guess that my favourite characters on television are the ever-gloomy Toby Zeigler from the West Wing, and even further back, that dour Scots undertaker on Dad’s Army, Corporal Fraser. Whenever something happened, good or bad, Corporal Fraser would always say, “Doomed – we’re doomed!” So you will immediately realise why I like the Good News Bible translation of this story about Elisha.
2 Kings 6:13 When he was told that Elisha was in Dothan, 14(the King of Aram, Israel’s enemies) sent a large force there with horses and chariots. They reached the town at night and surrounded it. 15Early the next morning Elisha’s servant got up, went out of the house, and saw the Syrian troops with their horses and chariots surrounding the town. He went back to Elisha and exclaimed, “We are doomed, sir! What shall we do?”
Elijah was facing big PROBLEMS
The King of Aram was very angry. All his attacks on Israel were being thwarted and he suspected he had a mole in his own camp. But the reality was that God was warning the Israelites through Elisha the prophet. So the King of Aram sent a whole army of soldiers and chariots to capture Elisha. They surrounded Dothan and when Elisha’s servant saw all these troops and horses and chariots he was terrified. No way of escape. “We’re doomed.”
Sometimes we face problems – sometimes big problems. Illness. Bereavement. Crises at work or in the family. Sometimes we can feel as desperate as Elisha’s servant did – sometimes it can feel as if we are doomed! But we can learn a lot from the way Elisha faced this crisis.
15 When the servant of the man of God got up and went out early the next morning, an army with horses and chariots had surrounded the city. “Oh, my lord, what shall we do?” the servant asked.
16 “Don’t be afraid,” the prophet answered. “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.”
Elisha knew that He was serving God – and that God would protect him.
17 And Elisha prayed, “O LORD, open his eyes so he may see.” Then the LORD opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.
Then his servant saw what Elisha could already see – “those who are with us are more than those who are with them.”
When we feel doomed, when we feel completely overwhelmed and trapped by our problems, we also need to see things from God’s perspective. We need our eyes opening to see that those who are with us are more than those who are with them. The apostle Paul put it this way.
Romans 8 31 What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?
We are not doomed! With God on our side – who can be against us! Elisha’s servant saw that they were completely protected by the armies of the Lord, horses and chariots of fire. God had sent his angels to protect them. We need our eyes opening to see what God gives us to help us through the hard times. Four ways to help us!
Elisha had already seen God’s power released in His life in a number of miracles. There was the widow who was given a jar of oil which never ran out so she could feed her family and pay her debts stop her sons from being sold into slavery. And we saw the miracle as God healed Naaman the Commander of the Syrian Army from leprosy.
As an Israelite Elisha also knew all about God’s Almighty power at work in Creation. And then there were all the events of the Exodus, the plagues on Egypt, the parting of the Red Sea, and the provision of Manna from heaven and water from the rocks during forty years in the wilderness. And God had given the Israelites victory over their enemies so many times as they took possession of the Promised Land, from Joshua and Gideon all the way through to great King David. The God of Israel is indeed the Almighty God!
Of course, as Christians we can also look back to the power of God in the ministry of Jesus. The blind made to see, the lame made to walk, the deaf made to hear, lepers healed, even the dead raised back to life again. And we can see the power of God in the greatest miracle of all, the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead! And God promises that power is released into our lives by the Holy Spirit.
So whatever problems we may be facing, may God open our eyes to see His Almighty power at work in our lives. With God’s power on our side, we definitely always have more on our side than anybody else does on theirs!
God’s power. Then we also need to see our situations from the perspective of
Whatever problems we may face, we never face them alone. God is always with us! Elisha knew that God was with Him. He was surrounded by the army of the Lord and the chariots of fire. God will always be with His chosen people. For us as Christians, Jesus has promised that He will be with us always.
Matthew 28:20 “Surely I am with you always to the very end of the age.”
And even more than that, as Christians we have God the Holy Spirit living inside us! When we feel doomed, when we feel trapped, when we feel all alone, God calls us simply to “Be still, and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10)
We need only to stop struggling and worrying and recognised the presence of God in our situations.
“His Spirit in us releases us from fear. The way to Him is open, with boldness we draw near.
And in His presence our problems disappear.Our hearts responding to His love.
Jesus – we celebrate your victory! Jesus – we revel in your love!”
God’s power and God’s presence. Then we need to see our situations from the perspective of
Elisha knew God was in control of his life. Elisha knew God was guiding him to fulfil His divine purposes. And God has a divine purpose and a plan for each of our lives. Sometimes that path will not be easy. The only way to the resurrection is through the cross. It was Spurgeon who said, “There are no crown-wearers in heaven who were not cross-bearers here on earth.”
Hebrews 12 2 Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
God does not promise us an easy ride – but He does promise us safe arrival at our ultimate destination!
Romans 8 28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
God has a plan for each of our lives and he also has a plan for us as His church. If the going ever seems rough it does not mean that God has abandoned us. It just means we have to learn to trust in God a little bit more!
When through the deep waters I call you to go.
You will not be swamped by the rivers of woe.
For I will be with you, your troubles to bless
And sanctify to you life’s deepest distress.
When through fiery trials your pathway shall lie.
My grace all-sufficient will be your supply.
The flame will not hurt you, my only design
Your dross to consume and your gold to refine!
God’s power. God’s presence. God’s purposes. Then we also need our eyes opening to
Elisha knew the God of Israel is a faithful God – the God who always keeps His promises. We may feel that we are doomed. We may feel that we are not waving but drowning, going under for the third time. But whatever our problems, at any point we can reach out and claim God’s promises. Listen to these wonderful promises God makes to you and me – to anybody who needs His help!
2 Peter 1 3 His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 4 Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.
And hear these words of Jesus Himself for anybody who is struggling this morning.
Matthew 11 28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
In lifesaving you are taught not to try and rescue a drowning person while they are thrashing about trying to save themselves. The correct thing to do is to wait until they have given up struggling because then they will be ready to receive help. Sometimes when we are busy struggling trying to sort out our own problems in our own strength God can’t help us. We are too busy worrying and panicking! Sometimes God leaves us until we realise we are doomed! Until we realise that without God we can do nothing. THEN God will step in and help us. If you are feeling doomed this morning – that’s alright. Because NOW is the time for God to open your eyes and discover you have much more on your side than you can possibly imagine! You have God’s power, God’s presence, God’s purposes and God’s promises.
Romans 8 31 … If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?
37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.