"Oh no! What shall we do?" This, I'm convinced, is the epic question of all time. "What shall we do!?" It's not a question that we ask while we can handle things. We ask it when we're stuck. And that's when we're open to unimagined solutions.
The epic question was uttered one morning in ancient Israel. Elisha's servant awakened to discover that "an army with horses and chariots had surrounded the city." He cried out to Elisha, "Oh no, my lord! What shall we do?" What happened next was totally unimagined. (See the account in 2 Kings 6:8-23)
We're also awakening to ominous threats surrounding us. COVID-19 remains an unrelenting global catastrophe. It's piled on top of threats affecting every level of human existence. Even thinking about it is stressful — too much to handle. You and I can surely agree that our concerns are of epic proportion. That must surely mean that it's big enough to provoke the epic question: "What shall we do?"
We can begin by heeding Elisha's first words to his fretful servant: "Don't be afraid." (v.16) I certainly need that reminder; I'm prone to fretting. Besides, fear itself is a destructive force. It arouses the fight-or-flight instinct in most unhelpful ways — like this:
Fight responses: attacks, anger, protests, blaming, putdowns, demands, retaliation, destruction, revolution… "Some trust in chariots and some in horses" (i.e. combative measures) (Psalm 20:7a NIV).
Flight responses: denial, apathy, complacency, addictions, indulgence, fatalism… Party on! The end is near anyway! "Let us eat and drink," you say, "for tomorrow we die!" (Isaiah 22:13b NIV)
There you have two well-trodden paths, when we try handling it: revenge or revelry. "Let's confront!" or "Let's just all get along!" Yet, where's the heart-wrenching cry to the Creator of the universe — with the epic question, "What shall we do?"
The biblical prophets can direct us. After all, they were on the scene during declining times — much like our own. The prophet Joel conveys a clear message in the verbs alone: "Hear … listen … wake up … weep … wail … mourn … despair … cry out to the Lord … tremble." Essentially, it's this: You people, all of you, accept the full gravity of your situation, and in your brokenness, reach out to God with every fibre of your being.
That's something that you and I can do! Whatever our situation, our views, or our church habits, nothing can stop any of us from gazing heavenward and pleading for God's intervention. It's a bold act of trustful faith — the opposite of fear.
Our current COVID-19 restrictions provide an ideal opportunity to clamour the heavens with fervent prayers. Then, as the clamour intensifies and God sees our earnestness, oh! the unimagined possibilities — personally and beyond. Can we not give God a chance?
2 Chronicles 7:14 – If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land. (NIV)
Prayer: O Lord, Thy kingdom come! Amen.
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