Summary: Learning from the trials and testings of others to be strong and courageous.
Life is a total of our choices. There are two primary choices in life: to accept conditions as they exist and live with them and in them, or to take the responsibility to change them. And it’s only when you exercise your right to choose, can you exercise the right to change.
You may think that in life, a lot of things happen to you a long the way. The truth may be, in life, you happen to a lot of things along the way. Where life has placed you, or where life has driven you, or where life has sentenced to you, where life has destined you, perhaps you are there to do that something that can happen only through you. Perhaps it’s through you that what needs to happen can only happen through you. And perhaps even in a gloomy situation, perhaps you can be the beacon of light that brings some glitter out of gloom. Even in a bleak situation, where life may be dying within you, perhaps the little life that is there is enough life to spark a resurrection.
Here we are again at this story of the four lepers, these lepers have a death sentence, they have a date with death, all men have that date, theirs were just more certain. Leprosy was a death sentence in those biblical days. When you were declared a leper, you were cut off, cut off from your family, cut off from your community, cut off from the Temple, cut off from your friends, cut off from your livelihood. You were sentenced to a leper’s colony or you made your abode outside the community of people because you were “unclean” and possibly contagious. The Syrian army had made its move against the Northern Kingdom (Samaria); the famine inside the city had impacted the lepers in greater ways. The Syrian army was no real threat for the lepers, no Syrians would come close to them, but the famine in the city meant that no food from inside of the gates could be left for them living on the outside. They are living with a death sentence of a disease, and now they are confronted with starvation. They have been hit with a double sentence of trouble.
And on last week we learned how they analyzed their situation, by looking at their options: Retreat (go back); Remain (sit here); and Risk (go and do something daring). These lepers are banded from entering the city, the famine has prevented those who were merciful to bring food out to them, their leprosy is not in remission, no healer is in town, and the Syrian army has camped outside of the city. Life is at an impasse, so what are the lessons we learn today. Perhaps the words of the poet James Russell Lowell are appropriate here: Truth forever on the scaffold, wrong forever …. But standeth God in the shadows… God is in the shadows… What the lessons these lepers teach us today are:
I. When you are at Life’s Dead End, There is an Alive God. vs.1
Then Elisha said, Hear ye the word of the Lord; Thus saith the Lord, Tomorrow about this time shall a measure of fine flour be sold for a shekel, and two measures of barley for a shekel, in the gate of Samaria.