Summary: God’s presence, realized among His people, will move them to fearless advancement in His name
Thursday morning. Jasmine Gardner was desperate to catch the #30 bus. For some reason she’d been forced off the subway. She had to get to work. She was already 45 minutes late. The bus wasn’t the usual for her, but rush hour traffic was, and she was all set to get on. The driver stopped and a few people got off. But he didn’t let anyone on. Why not? It didn’t seem completely full. She wrote, “As the bus driver closed the doors in my face at the stop on Upper Woburn Place I wanted to scream. Swarms of people had got off. I could see people standing on the lower deck, but I knew I would have fitted. I swore at the driver — too late for him to hear.” Angry that the bus pulled ahead, she started walking fast to catch it. Then, when she was about 30 feet from reaching it, not far from the British Museum, it exploded. She stuck up her umbrella to protect herself from a shower of debris that began to fall. Sheer chaos followed. About an hour earlier, 3 bombs had been detonated within a minute of each other in the subway. She had been kept off the subway because of the explosions. 56 dead; 700 wounded. Brits will remember 7/7 of 2005.
In a short time, the life of many people in London went from the normal morning rush hour routine to an uproar. It’s similar to the experience many of us had after the attacks of September 11. Life was changed in a very short time.
Some change happens to us in large doses. The doctor has you come visit him in his office, and in 5 minutes your future is turned upside down. In one bad day on the stock market, your investment is lost. You find out over social media that someone you thought was your friend is backstabbing you. Health turns into uncertainty. Security gets ripped away into fear. Friendship becomes distrust. Rush hour gets changed into a terrorist attack.
Now, think for a moment. Compared to a few years ago, is that more or less likely to happen to us? The terror threat is higher. Information and misinformation are moving faster. Pressure and violence against Christians is increasing. And Donald Trump is running for president!
I know that I’d like to be one of the people who doesn’t fall to pieces when everyone else does. Wouldn’t you? Now, the Bible is full of stories of people facing sudden change – sometimes with strength, and sometimes just falling all apart. It’s nothing new. There was a prophet named Elisha who experienced several times of difficulty, but there was one particular time when he faced a situation of horrible danger with complete calmness, and he was able to help someone around him too. I’d like to know how he did it. I’d like to know for the next sudden change that hits me in life. I’d like to know how I can look an impossible situation in the eye and not fold up into a ball.
How will we deal with what’s ahead for us, whatever it may be, big or small? I want to suggest to you that if God is with us, we can do it, and if we could somehow keep that truth in front of us, we can do it! Let’s look at Elisha and see how that works…
(I. God’s Presence With His People Is Often Not Realized by Outsiders)
The scene is set in the first verses of II Kings 6. Elisha is involved in prophet kinds of things: he’s helping build a new dormitory for the college of the prophets. He helps recover an axe head that had flown off into a stream. Sometime, in the midst of all this, he’s also providing insider information to the King of Israel, King Joram. Ben-Hadad is king of Aram, and the armies of Aram are taking advantage of some weak borders around Samaria, conducting ambushes and raids. The raids and ambushes aren’t going very well because someone is tipping off the Israelites before each raid…
Now the king of Aram was at war with Israel. After conferring with his officers, he said, "I will set up my camp in such and such a place." The man of God sent word to the king of Israel: "Beware of passing that place, because the Arameans are going down there." So the king of Israel checked on the place indicated by the man of God. Time and again Elisha warned the king, so that he was on his guard in such places. This enraged the king of Aram. He summoned his officers and demanded of them, "Will you not tell me which of us is on the side of the king of Israel?" "None of us, my lord the king," said one of his officers, "but Elisha, the prophet who is in Israel, tells the king of Israel the very words you speak in your bedroom." "Go, find out where he is," the king ordered, "so I can send men and capture him." The report came back: "He is in Dothan."