It’s safe to say that most people prefer to have a clear understanding of what the definite next steps are for their lives. To have a job that they can rely on and confidence in how to complete their work. To have a thriving relationship with friends and family and to trust that those people will be in your life for the foreseeable future. To be healthy financially and physically with at least the short term view that there are prosperous years to come.
Uncertainty, on the other hand, can be miserable. Living in a season of uncertainty leaves people without a definite clear understanding of what the future holds and as a result a feeling of the ambiguity of what their next steps should be can ensue. Extended seasons of uncertainty can lead people to feel scared or anxious, making them feel trapped by whatever external circumstance is bearing down on them.
At the writing of this article, the world is currently being impacted by the extremely contagious Coronavirus (COVID-19) leaving hundreds of thousands of people infected and causing quarantines for various countries around the world. With such a massive shutdown of businesses across the globe, economies are taking a major hit and leaving many strapped financially while also grappling with the fact that there is not a clear end to our current pandemic. Whether families are wrestling with paying bills, avoiding a virus without a cure, or just trying to keep themselves and their children occupied, the Coronavirus is certainly taking its toll.
Thankfully, this isn’t the first time people have faced uncertainty for an extended period of time. As we look to God’s Word, we find incredible examples of people who faced extremely bleak situations only to see God move in a powerful way just like the passage found in 2 Kings 6:8-23.
In this passage, the Arameans were seeking to wage war against the northern kingdom of Israel. They had targeted Israel's king but were faced with an unexpected challenge. Elisha, a prophet during that time, was able to inform Israel’s king exactly where the Arameans were going to attack and how to evade them. God had given Israel an advantage over their enemy that for the moment seemed insurmountable, but the King of Aram’s patience only lasted so long. The target quickly became Elisha himself.
When word was sent that Elisha was in the city of Dothan, “... he [King of Aram] sent horses, chariots, and a massive army there. They went by night and surrounded the city” (2 Kings 6:14 CSB). Elisha had been faithful to the ministry he had been called to only to be trapped by an army seemingly superior to anything the city of Dothan could muster in defense. If there was ever a time to panic or grow anxious it was now. A siege could last months, bleeding Dothan of all their financial resources and leaving the people stricken of food and water. If the Arameans went on the offensive and attacked the city, Elisha would surely be captured and imprisoned, at best, or outright killed.
Feeling the weight of a hopeless situation, Elisha’s servant asked, “Oh, my master, what are we to do?” (2 Kings 6:15). This servant doesn’t see a way of escape and out of exasperation seeks any type of consolation from Elisha. It’s possible that an answer wasn’t expected at all. Ultimately, it seems like the servant asks this question out of fear, which isn’t wrong. He would be crazy to not be afraid.
Elisha answers, “Don’t be afraid, for those who are with us outnumber those who are with them” (2 Kings 6:16). What an awesome response! Elisha’s statement is calm and brimming with confidence in the Lord’s deliverance. How do you not feel inspired when reading that! Unless you are Elisah’s servant who still sees a massive army surrounding the city, then a statement like this sounds crazy and beyond frustrating. It would be easy to ask the question, “Are we looking at the same situation?”
The very next verse says, “Then Elisha prayed, 'Lord, please open his eyes and let him see.' So the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he saw that the mountain was covered with horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha” (2 Kings 6:17). What a powerful sight of God’s mighty army blazing with fire and ready to defend Israel. In reality, God’s people had not been left to fend for themselves, but God had already sovereignly surrounded their enemy and was ready to deliver them at any time. The outcome of this predicament had now become a certain victory for the people of Israel.
The truth is that in many situations that seem unclear in our lives we have to be reminded of what is certain. For us, that is the complete sovereignty of God in any and all circumstances. As Christians, we have the promise of eternal life through faith in Jesus which includes receiving God’s own spirit to dwell within us at all times. All the hardships and trials that we face in this life have already been defeated, and we can rest in that wonderful truth.
New uncertainties will always come our way and fear will almost certainly swell up inside us. In fact, Elisha faced other hardships after his encounter with the Arameans (just keep reading to the next passage in 2 Kings 6). Even though external hardships will remain we can internally enjoy the hope, joy, and peace that comes with the trust and understanding that our God walks with us every step of the way through this life and into eternity.
1 John 4:4 says it best, “You are from God, little children, and you have conquered them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world” (CSB). With that truth, we can be certain that those who are with us certainly outnumber those who are against us.