Sermons

Summary: Prayer Warriors, Pt. 3

TRY AND TRY AGAIN (ISAIAH 38:1-20)

A good friend sent me an introspective e-mail on his birthday:

Dear Victor:

Today is my big five O day. My life is in half time. Or maybe it has actually passed half time for a long time. Some of my friends went back to be with the Lord at ages like 37 or 40; so I am grateful for these extra time I have from the Lord to enjoy and to continue to see the exciting things happening here on earth.

My Lord Jesus passed away at age 33. I have lived 17 more years than He did on earth.

One Chinese pastor in Vancouver I know passed away in his early years of ministry after a brief illness. He was young when he died. He came to my church for a while too when he attended seminary.

My coworker at another church passed away at 37 of liver cancer. I was ordained one day after his funeral service. He left a young widow and twin boys -- about the same age as my daughter/youngest.

Members of my church...

A treasurer passed away at 40 something - of cancer.

An elder’s wife passed away after some years of struggle with cancer, been through a lot of pain.

A man passed away at the beginning of this year after one and half year of cancer treatment. He is 59, a little short of 60.

My father passed away at age 51 of lung cancer.

Conclusion: I am living much longer than some good people (some not-so-good perhaps). Anyhow, I have to be thankful that I am allowed to live and to enjoy life. Life is precious but it is not to be taken for granted. It is a gift from God. I am thankful at 50! I am still not used to use that number to refer to myself. I don’t think I have ever totally grown up yet. I have much more to work on in my life, but whether I finish or not, I will be complete when I see Him again!

Life is unpredictable enough, but what if your life was shortened by fifteen years or extended by 15 years? Hezekiah, the king of Judah, suffered an unknown fatal illness when he was at the prime of his life. He was sick to the point of death. What would you do? What can you do when you’re poor in health, when you’re sick to death and when you’re all but dead?

Cling to the Lord

38:1 In those days Hezekiah became ill and was at the point of death. The prophet Isaiah son of Amoz went to him and said, “This is what the LORD says: Put your house in order, because you are going to die; you will not recover.” 2 Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to the LORD (Isa 38:1-2)

A young man came to Socrates one day and said, “Mr. Socrates, I have come 1,500 miles to gain wisdom and learning. I want learning, so I come to you.”

Socrates said, “Come, follow me.” He led the way down to the seashore. They waded out into the water until they were up to their waists, and then Socrates seized his companion and forced his head under the water. In spite of his struggles, Socrates held him under.

Finally, when most of his resistance was gone Socrates laid him out on the shore and returned to the market place. When the visitor had regained his consciousness and strength, he returned to Socrates to learn the reason for his behavior.

Socrates said to him, “When you were under the water, what was the one thing you wanted more than anything else?”

“I wanted air.”

Then Socrates said, “When you want knowledge and understanding as badly as you wanted air, you won’t have to ask anyone to give it to you.” (Sterling W. Sill, quoted in 7,700 Illustrations)

When Isaiah the prophet marched into Hezekiah’s palace and advised him to put his house in order, Hezekiah knew it was pointless to consult the finest doctors, take the rarest medication or seek a second opinion. Already, his health was failing before he received worse news. Not only did Isaiah the prophet pointedly tell him that he was going to die, he also told the king that he would not live or recover. The description of his illness was unique in the Bible. The word “ill” could have meant anything from a sickness to a stroke. Jacob suffered from the same illness in his old age, and he had to muster all his strength and mount a big challenge just to sit up on his bed to bless his sons before he breathed his last (Gen 48:1-2).

Hezekiah’s future was very bleak; however, he did not give up and die, shut up and die, shrivel up and die, curl up and die, or fess up and die. He did a most unexpected thing, a most unusual thing and a most untested thing. He turned to the wall and implored God, which was an unusual move in the Bible. The king left Isaiah alone, faced the wall and sought the Lord right there and then. The first Hebrew word from his mouth was a passionate “Please” or “I pray” or “I beseech Thee” in KJV (v 3). NIV usually does not translate this word anywhere in the Bible, but this opening word in a speech translates to a sense of urgency and drama. The other instances this word was used to begin a speech include Joseph’s brother plea for Joseph’s forgiveness after their father Jacob died (Gen 50:17), Nehemiah’s prayer when he heard of Jerusalem’s plight (Neh 1:5), Daniel’s prayer when he learned of the seventy years of exile (Dan 9:4), the sailor’s plea for God’s mercy before throwing Jonah into the sea (Jonah 1:14) and Jonah’s petulant prayer to die (Jonah 4:2).

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