“Go back and tell Hezekiah, the ruler of my people, ‘This is what the Lord, the God of your father David, says: I have heard your prayer and seen your tears; I will heal you.”
2 Kings 20:5 (NIV)
In the past few months, I have been enjoying listening to The Bema Podcast. Wendy turned me on to it, and it’s been enlightening in so many ways. So, I wanted to give them a shout-out.
In the first episode(s), the hosts unpack the beauty and power of the Hebrew poetry in the opening chapters of Genesis. They reveal God’s theme in creation: “Trust the Story.”
That thought alone has been rocking my world since I heard it.
Along my spiritual journey, I’ve observed and grappled with my own human tendency toward envy. Most of the time, especially in our materialistic culture, I witness envy being attached to the coveting of another person’s things. But the truth of the matter is that I have found that envy permeates the human condition in much deeper and broader ways. For example, it’s very easy to envy another person’s story.
In today’s chapter, Hezekiah receives the bad news through the prophet Isaiah that his illness will lead to his death. King Hezekiah weeps and prays. The prophet Isaiah then returns to inform the King that God has heard his prayer and seen his tears. God heals Hezekiah and grants him another fifteen years of life.
Throughout my spiritual journey I’ve witnessed “name it and claim it” preachers who preach that anyone and everyone can experience healing like Hezekiah’s with a little faith (and a donation to the preacher’s ministry…wink, wink, nudge, nudge).
But, I can’t help but be reminded of John the Baptist. Jesus said of his cousin that among humans born of women there was no one greater than John. As He said this, John was languishing in Herod’s prison. John was not in a good place. He wanted to see Jesus ascend as Messiah. He wanted his freedom and Herod’s comeuppance. He wanted miraculous deliverance like Hezekiah from Assyria or Daniel and the boys from the King of Babylon’s fiery furnace. He wanted his story to turn out like their story. There’s the envy. But, it wasn’t happening.
So, John sends his disciples to Jesus asking, “Are you really the One?”
Jesus’ reply is fascinating:
“Go back and report to John what you hear and see: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor.”
Jesus is referencing a text from the prophet Isaiah, the very prophet who proclaimed to King Hezekiah in today’s chapter that God had seen his tears, heard his cries, and would heal him. Jesus is quoting the same text he used in a sermon in Galilee (Luke 4):
“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
Interestingly, when Jesus references the Isaiah passage to John’s disciples, He leaves out the parts about freedom for prisoners and setting the oppressed free. John’s story is not going to look like Hezekiah’s story. There will be no earthly miracle. John will not see deliverance from Herod the way Hezekiah was delivered from Assyria. John’s head will be served up on a silver platter to his nemesis.
In the quiet this morning, I find myself continuing to meditate on what it means to “trust the story.” Hezekiah’s story reminds me that God sees my tears and hears my prayers and that sometimes the divine response is miraculous and gracious. John the Baptist’s story reminds me that my story isn’t guaranteed a miraculous outcome, but that doesn’t mean that my tears weren’t seen or my prayer wasn’t heard.
“Trusting the story” requires faith that the story isn’t confined to or limited by this earthly existence. It calls upon me to trust that my story is part of a larger Story that is not of this world.
If you know anyone who might be encouraged by today’s post, please share.