Has any one of the gods of the nations delivered his land from the hand of the king of Assyria? Where are the gods of Hamath and Arpad? Where are the gods of Sepharvaim, Hena and Ivvah? Have they delivered Samaria from my hand? Who among all the gods of the lands have delivered their land from my hand, that the LORD should deliver Jerusalem from my hand?
2 Kings 18:33-35
Hezekiah had rebelled against the king of Assyria. Judah had been paying tribute and Hezekiah decided to stop. Then the Assyrian king, Sennacherib, sent a few leaders and some of his army over to Judah to get the payment that he (Sennacherib) thought he was due. Hezekiah agreed to pay the money, but Sennacherib was not content with that, deciding instead to conquer Judah and take the people captive. He had one problem: he and his generals had conquered so many people who thought that their gods would save them that they were unprepared to square up with the LORD, Who actually does save. And that is precisely what happened. God took the fight to the Assyrians and they ended up withdrawing and not returning.
That tremendously condensed version of the events skims past the leaders of the Assyrian army openly threatening and making hollow promises to the inhabitants of Jerusalem specifically and Judah as a whole. It also skims past the threatening letter sent to Hezekiah by the leaders of the Assyrian army and the agonizing that Hezekiah and the people went through on account of these events.
Hezekiah is noted in the opening verses of chapter eighteen as having been different than any king before or after him in the best way possible. He was a righteous man who trusted in the LORD, not perfect, but righteous. And still he faced difficulties. Still his enemies squared up with him.
It is a popular conception in some branches of Westernized Christianity to think that following Christ will somehow make all of our problems vanish. The reality is quite different. The problems of sin and death are dealt with, but the rest of our problems remain. We are still just as flawed and in need of our Savior as we were the moment before conversion; our relationships still as broken as they were; our lives still permeated with the difficulties they contained before — both those we created and those that just happened.
This account leaves me with two reminders.
The first is the one that is most often pointed out in this portion of scripture: God will take care of those who are His. God dealt with the Assyrians, but it is important to notice that the Assyrian leaders were talking trash about God. They threw down the gauntlet in front of God and He walloped them with it. I need to be mindful that not every conflict in my life is one that God needs to resolve for me. Sometimes, I made a mess and I need to clean it up. Sometimes, people are just hostile to God Who is working in my life.
The second is the reminder that the life of a believer is not always easy. There will be nail-biting moments where all I can do is go to God and wonder how He is going to sort this thing out. There will be times when He is silent until the last possible moment. There will, in short, be times of difficulty in the life of every believer.
Thank You for this reminder, Father. Please keep me mindful of these things.