Friday, January 11, 2013

The Worst He Can Say is "No"

Have you ever known anyone that has had cancer?  In today's world, it feels like cancer lurks around every corner.  If you don't directly know someone who has or had cancer you know someone who knows someone.  It doesn't seem fair.  But that's the thing about cancer and sickness and death - no one is exempt.

2 Kings 20:1-6 - 1 In those days Hezekiah became mortally ill.  And Isaiah the prophet the son of Amoz came to him and said to him, "Thus says the Lord, 'Set your house in order, for you shall die and not live.'"  

2 Then he turned his face to the wall and prayed to the Lord, saying, 3 "Remember now, O Lord, I beseech You, how I have walked before You in truth and with a whole heart and have done what is good in Your sight." And Hezekiah wept bitterly.  

4 Before Isaiah had gone out of the middle court, the word of the Lord came to him, saying, 5 "Return and say to Hezekiah the leader of My people, 'Thus says the Lord, the God of your father David, "I have heard your prayer, I have seen your tears; behold, I will heal you.  On the third day you shall go up to the house of the Lord. 6 I will add on fifteen years to your life, and I will deliver you and this city from the hand of the king of Assyria; and I will defend this city for My own sake and for My servant David's sake."'"

Sickness and death are not picky.  It doesn't matter who you are, you are susceptible.  Anyone of us could fall ill or die tomorrow - "Neither greatness or goodness can exempt us from sickness" (Henry). The other truth about death is that no one knows for sure when it will happen.  Hezekiah is the only man we are aware of that was ever given a time from God.  You see, "God has wisely kept us at uncertainties, that we may be always ready" (Wesley).  Unfortunately, for some reason, we don't feel the need to be ready.  According to Frederick Beuchner, "Intellectually we all know that we will die, but we do not really know it in the sense that the knowledge becomes a part of us.  We do not really know it in the sense of living as though it were true.  On the contrary, we tend to live as though our lives would go on forever."  

Thank goodness for prayer, or more accurately, thank God!  Without it, we wouldn't have access to Christ or salvation.  We wouldn't have hope of life after death.  And prayer always brings healing.  It may not be physical, but it is always spiritual, and sometimes emotional.  When Hezekiah receives his death sentence, what is his first response?  To pray - "He had now received the sentence of death within himself, and if it was reversible, it muse be reversed by prayer" (Henry). Some say his prayer was simply meant to calm his anxiety or fears, others say it really was for healing (though he never asks for that outright).  Not every prayer is answered with a "yes" or a "you have been healed" but the truth to learn here is that "we have not if we ask not" (Henry).

God can change circumstances!  He did it for Hezekiah and He did it for many others...and He will do it for you!  God is bigger and better than sickness.  And He is MUCH bigger and better than death!  God IS life!  It doesn't mean He will always run to the rescue - His plans are much bigger than ours and there is this tiny thing called "free will" that tends to make a mess of things sometimes.  But He is there.  And you will never know if the answer is "yes" or "no" unless you ask.  My parents always reminded me growing up: "The worst thing they can say is no."  I didn't really understand it when I was really young, but as I grew, it made more and more sense.  If you don't ask, you are stuck in your situation.  If you do ask, there is at least a chance things will change!  And the worst that could possibly happen is that you would be in the same boat you were before.  This, most certainly, applies to prayer.

I believe, sometimes, that God is just waiting for you to ask Him, to trust Him.  After all, wasn't it God's own messenger, Isaiah, that told Hezekiah he was going to die?  You see, God never "says and unsays; but upon Hezekiah's prayer, which He foresaw and which His Spirit inclined Him to, God did that for him which otherwise He would not have done" (Henry).  Essentially, what Henry is saying here, is that if Hezekiah wouldn't have prayed, God wouldn't have healed him...he still would have died.  Sometimes we have to be the ones to reach out.

Is God waiting on you?  Have you come to Him with your situation?  Whether it be sickness, finances, or something else...have you asked Him for help?  Maybe that is all He is waiting for.  After all, the worst He can say is "no."

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