Carstairs-Bancroft United Church
October 6, 2020
DURING COVID-19 PANDEMIC
By Rev. Maria Szabo Berces
|Source: Our Daily Bread|
Beloved Carstairs Bancroft United Church Members,
The Our Daily Bread Devotion I share with you today includes one of my favorite Bible stories. The servant of Prophet Elisha wakes up to see that their town is under siege. People in ancient wars knew that the enemy’s intention was death, destruction, and taking. No wonder that the servant’s reaction was demonstrated in these panicking words: “Oh no, my lord! What shall we do?” (2 Kings 6:17)
How easy it is to fall into despair upon situations and circumstances! And let’s be honest: sometimes we can’t avoid to face devastating and very painful events or challenges. We would like to believe that it’s just a bad dream, but the nightmare is real: the enemy surrounds our town; our life and health is in danger; we lose a loved one; we can’t see a way out from the multilayered mouse-trap we are in – mentioning just a very narrow log of the trials to which we might wake up one day; or of which we have a painful memory.
However, my favorite part in this story is not this panic that we can see in the servant’s behaviour and that can be so familiar from our own personal life experience. What warms my heart as I read 2 Kings 6 is the ‘other’ reality that was hidden from his eyes at first. And that is the reality of God powerful and protective presence that surrounded Prophet Elisha.
Is this holy presence always around? Is it available to all of us? I believe it is the case; that God who is love shows no favoritism but embraces us all. However, as I can see, we need the eyes of faith to notice and experience it.
I liked in the story below that God’s loving presence can be felt through other humans: family, friends and those who were in the same situation before. God can send the message of love and care not only through celestial messengers or ‘real’ angels, but can use human heralds and couriers; or ‘angel soldiers’ as Lisa could experience it.
And sometimes, God would like to send us to comfort or support somebody else; to use our previous hurts, pains and panics to help others to see that there is healing, strength, and a way out.
May our eyes be open to see when we are surrounded by God’s love through others; and may our ears be attentive when God calls us to become ‘angels’ to someone in need.
Grace and Peace to You All,
Open his eyes, Lord, so that he may see.
2 Kings 6:17
The verse on the card Lisa received didn’t seem to match her situation: “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” (2 Kings 6:17). I have cancer! she thought in confusion. I’ve just lost a baby! A verse about angel soldiers doesn’t apply.
Then the “angels” began to show up. Cancer survivors gave her their time and a listening ear. Her husband got released early from an overseas military assignment. Friends prayed with her. But the moment she most felt God’s love was when her friend Patty walked in with two boxes of tissues. Placing them on the table, she started crying. Patty knew. She’d endured miscarriages too.
“That meant more than anything,” Lisa says. “The card made sense now. My ‘angel soldiers’ had been there all along.”
When an army besieged Israel, a host of literal angels protected Elisha. But Elisha’s servant couldn’t see them. “What shall we do?” he cried to the prophet (v. 15). Elisha simply prayed, “Open his eyes, Lord, so that he may see” (v. 17).
When we look to God, our crisis will show us what truly matters and that we’re not alone. We learn that God’s comforting presence never leaves us. He shows us His love in infinitely surprising ways. – By Tim Gustafson
REFLECT & PRAY
Loving God, thank You for the complete reliability of Your presence. Open my eyes so that I may see You in a new way today. Amen.
What’s your first reaction when you receive bad news? When you endured a crisis, how did you view God in new ways?
Elisha had been both a protégé of and a servant to Elijah for some seven to ten years when Elijah departed this world in a whirlwind (2 Kings 2:9-12). Once Elisha assumed the role of prophet of Israel, however, his ministry would have a very different nature and character than that of his mentor. While in Elijah’s ministry miracles were often destructive and negative (drought, famine, calling fire from heaven to destroy enemy troops, etc.), Elisha’s ministry was usually positive and helpful. Performing exactly twice as many miracles as his predecessor, Elisha was God’s instrument to purify polluted water, cleanse a poisoned stew, restore a lost axe-head, heal a leper, and more. Although these two men served in the same era and both were instruments in the hands of the God of Israel, the overall tone and spirit of their respective ministries were very different. – By Bill Crowder
Used with permission