It was a little over a month ago that we were given those amazing words “Complete Pathologic Response.” What that means is that after all the chemo and the surgery, there is no sign of the cancer that my wife was fighting. There are some who would attribute this to great medical care, which we had. We believe that, ultimately, God was in control and God brought the healing. Yes, there were tough times. Yes, He could have zapped that cancer before we even knew she had it. He didn’t. But, He saw us through the whole situation. God was in control and God delivered us.
As we return to the story of Hezekiah, the scene is a follow-up from yesterday’s story. Judah is under siege. In yesterday’s reading, that King was mocking God and Hezekiah letting all Judah know that he was about to destroy them. He specifically told them that God couldn’t save them. As the story continues today, events unfold that would mock the boasts of Sennacherib. “Now Sennacherib received a report that Tirhakah, the king of Cush, was marching out to fight against him. So he again sent messengers to Hezekiah with this word: ‘Say to Hezekiah king of Judah: Do not let the god you depend on deceive you when he says, “Jerusalem will not be given into the hands of the king of Assyria.”’” (2 Kings 19:9-10)
In short, Sennacherib was pulled away from the siege of Jerusalem by the “coincidence” of the news that someone else was attacking him. As he left the Jerusalem siege, he wanted to taunt the people of Judah and said, essentially, “I’m leaving for now, but don’t give credit to your God. I’m still coming back and we are so strong that we will conquer you!” Hezekiah responded to the result by praying and thanking God for what He had done. God’s response, through the prophet Isaiah, was that God would show the Assyrians that He was in control and the Assyrian army was broken that night. Hezekiah knew that God was in control. The “coincidences” that he experienced throughout his life always seemed to work out the way that showed that God was in control. At the same time, Hezekiah was not willing to risk his faith by giving into the pressure and renouncing his trust in God. If God was (and still is) in control, and He always has been, it would be better to be destroyed because he stayed true to God than keep on living by failing in his faith.
We live in a world of compromise today. There are all kinds of pressures and temptations to compromise our faith and our commitment to God. We are attacked verbally, or perhaps in the legal system by people who want to make us act as if our faith was unimportant. When faith guides our everyday lives and business practices we are told to contain our faith and practice it on Sundays. In other parts of the world, followers of Christ are killed for living out their faith. Sometimes, in a remarkable display of “coincidence” God’s people are protected. In truth, though, as followers of Christ we are called to stay true to Him even if it leads to death. Shadrach, Mishach, and Abednego were willing to go through the fire rather than make a very simple compromise. God protected them. Stephen stood strong for God and angered the religious leaders resulting in his death, but God was in control throughout the situation. We will all die sometime; the question is will we stay true to Christ even if it leads to death? Will we stay true to our faith, or will we give into the fear of the army outside our gates? May we always stay true to God!
Lord God, it is so easy to give in at times; to “go along to get along.” You have called us to stand true to You. Give us the strength to stand for You, and when we fail, give us the grace we need to come back to You and then stand strong once again.