#NotAbandoned

In panic I cried out,
   “I am cut off from the Lord!”
But you heard my cry for mercy
    and answered my call for help.

Depression is a soul sucking monster.  An overwhelming feeling of hopelessness can drive a person to dark things.  Time after time we see headlines of notable people who have taken their own lives, in an attempt at freedom from the seemingly unbearable weariness of life.  Many of us have close friends or family that have done the same.  Where is God in all of this?  What do we do when we feel all alone in our darkness?  Abandoned.  In 2 Kings 6, God shows us exactly what to do.

There was no way out, no escape. The man’s knees buckled as he mentally recounted the stories he’d heard of the brutality of marauding armies laying waste to other cities. He rushed back into the house to bang on the door of his master’s room. “Elisha, Elisha!” The tranquility he found in his master’s eyes was uncanny. As the servant hurriedly explained the dire situation, Elisha sat, unmoved, nodding peacefully, until at last the servant could no longer stand it. “Master, what are we going to do!” he blurted out.

It was almost dawn when Elisha’s servant had crawled out of bed to begin the day. With much to do, he quickly set about with the morning’s business. Lighting a fire, gathering water, and preparing the morning meal were all routine tasks that he was well accustomed to, but when he stepped out into the brisk air, he staggered back in disbelief. From his vantage point, he could see an enormous army of horses, soldiers, and chariots surrounding the city. He knew precisely why they were there, and it was no peacekeeping mission. For some time, his master had been helping the king of Israel. When enemies moved their troops or made plans to attack, God would tell Elisha, and he would relay the message to the king, always staying a step ahead. This infuriated the king of Aram so much that he had finally sent an entire army, with the best military technology available at the time, to kill one man. The day of reckoning had finally come. One can only imagine the fear that gripped the heart of Elisha’s servant as he surveyed the host of warriors that had come for the lives of and it was almost dawn when his servant crawled out of bed to begin the day. With much to do, he quickly set about with the morning’s business. Lighting a fire, gathering water, and preparing the morning meal were all routine tasks that he was well accustomed to, but when he stepped out into the brisk air, he staggered back in disbelief. From his vantage point, he could see an enormous army of horses, soldiers, and chariots surrounding the city. He knew precisely why they were there, and it was no peacekeeping mission. For some time, his master had been helping the king of Israel. When enemies moved their troops or made plans to attack, God would tell Elisha, and he would relay the message to the king, always staying a step ahead. This infuriated the king of Aram so much that he had finally sent an entire army, with the best military technology available at the time, to kill one man. The day of reckoning had finally come. One can only imagine the fear that gripped the heart of Elisha’s servant as he surveyed the host of warriors that had come for the lives of him and his master. They were completely surrounded. Had God forgotten them? Had he abandoned His servants? How could they ever muster a force strong enough to fend off the attacking horde?

Abandoned.  Overwhelmed. Hopeless.

What drives a person to the brink?  What could be so soul-crushing that a person would chose to end their life?  Our society has seen this type of hopelessness far too often in the news as of late.  Loneliness and depression surround and besiege the mind like a marauding army.  Circumstances seem unsurmountable, and help is nowhere to be seen.

Elisha didn’t ask God for a fireball from heaven. He didn’t ask to be magically teleported away to safety. He didn’t even ask for superpowers. The prophet simply requested perspective for his servant. God answered his prayer and opened the eyes of the servant. Instantly, he could see that the hillside all around them was teeming with an army of their own—but not an ordinary army. It was literally on fire! This was a vast angelic defense force, any one of which could have wiped out the entirety of the king of Aram’s army. Their enemy had believed he was coming with an overwhelming force, yet he was more outmatched than a than a birthday candle in a hurricane. Think of the relief that must have flooded over the servant as he realized how safe he was. God was in control. He had a rescue plan. He had not abandoned them. Now, here is the remarkable thing: nothing actually changed. The heavenly legion was there long before Elisha prayed. God had merely opened the servant’s eyes to see. Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines perspective as, “the capacity to view things in their true relations or relative importance.”  The gospel provides the perspective we need when faced with the overwhelming hopelessness that breeds suicidal thoughts.  There is no one too far gone.  There is no sin unforgivable.  There is no person unlovable.

The gospel at its core is God’s rescue plan to reunite humankind with Himself. He has never walked away. Through times when it seems all is lost, He remains steadfast and as His followers it is our responsibility to take that timely message of life and hope to a world in dire need of it.