I was scanning a few news internet sites the other day and I was astounded by what I saw. Here are a few of the headlines, FOR THAT ONE DAY : “Iran Nuke Reactor Ready In August,” “Foreclosure Rates Surge, Biggest Jump in 5 Years,” “Large Meteor Streaked Across The Midwest Sky-Momentarily Turning Night Into Day,” “Home -Grown Solo Terrorists Pose Equally Serious Threat As Al-Qaeda,” and “Jobless Rates Unexpectedly Soar.”
You talk about a dearth of good news. With news like that, we could all join a Chicken Little conga line out on the streets rhythmically chanting, “The sky is falling!”
In this environment where news is available 24/7, it certainly does not take us long to be negatively impacted by what we see, hear and read. The sheer weight of trying to deal with difficult economic news, international discord, the threats of violence and human failures can weigh the best of us down. And, it doesn’t matter whether the glass is half full or half empty, it still isn’t full!
It is quite natural to respond in fear. The dictionary might tell us that fear is “a distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil, and pain.” And whether the threat is real or imagined, we respond almost the same way. It may be a natural disaster that looms, or an international crisis that is building or the disintegration of our marriage or the nature of our own rebellious teenager that cause us that distressing emotion. We worry, we fret, we think about the worst possible scenario and we “stew” in our anxiety.
I am confident that is why there are over 366 different references in our Bible demanding that we “fear not.” (That is one for everyday including leap year.) One of my favorite biblical stories is found in II Kings 17. The Arameans are plotting to kidnap the great prophet, Elisha. The King of Aram wanted to have a bright prophet on his team, so he sends a great army to capture Elisha.
Elisha’s servant gets up early and wanders outside where he sees the gigantic army of horses and chariots surrounding the city where Elisha was staying. In a panic, he comes running back in to tell Elisha of the impending doom. You can almost hear him as he breathlessly sums up his frantic report with these words, “Alas, my master. What shall we do?”
Too often, we react to bad news exactly the same way. After scanning those headlines, I could have used the exact same words, “Alas…what shall we do?”
And the answer Elisha gives is timeless. He said, “Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” And after he prayed, the Lord opens the eyes of the servant so he could also see that the hills around the prophet were covered with God’s army. They were literally surrounded by God’s protection…the servant just needed his eyes opened. You and I need our spiritual eyes opened too. We need to embrace the truth that God’s provision and protection surrounds His children.
Let me pray for us. “Lord, as we all encounter the stresses and strains of modern living this week may we pause long enough to embrace your provision and protection. Help us to remember that in you we can all rise above the circumstances depicted on the 6 o’clock news!”