May 13 | Daily Devotion

May 13 | Daily Devotion

Lectio Continua: a complete reading of the passage

Lectio Semi-continua: a shorter reading of the passage

Lectio Divina

Elisha’s miraculous exploits continue in today’s reading. These are remember-the-time stories. The prophet remembers the time he floated an axe head on the water and returned it to its user. The Arameans (Israel’s northward enemy) remember the time he blinded their soldiers and led them right into Israel’s capital city. The king of Israel remembers the time Elisha predicted the end of a famine and the death of his right hand man. Elisha served God in difficult times, and God used him in powerful ways. It’s no coincidence that the most famous prophets lived during the most infamous historical periods. Perhaps the primary calling of this spirit-filled leader was to stand out as a living testament to the power of God in the midst of an unfaithful generation. Sometimes the light shines more brightly in darkness.

However, all of Elisha’s exploits are not enough to bring his people to repentance, and famine devours the land. The Israelites cannot discern the hand of God in their difficult days of economic adversity. During the first famine recounted in today’s reading, the king is angry with Elisha, blaming him for the deprivation in a classic case of wanting to “kill the messenger.” But the Lord brings hardship upon the land because the people failed to worship Him.

I think that modern Christians often miss God’s powerful ways at work in the world today, unfortunately. Too many quickly dismiss divine causes in things such as recessions, disasters, and tragedies. I do not believe every difficulty is caused by personal (or social) sin, let that be made very clear. We must never dismiss the lessons of Job or of Jesus, sometimes, good people suffer, even when they do what is right. However, we are delusional to think that divine causes are never at work in this world. It is sad that during our most recent economic recession almost no one asked questions about the spiritual condition of the nation. That includes not considering the spiritual condition of the church!

Perhaps our first response when the economy isn’t doing well, or when natural disaster strikes, or when we face some great personal difficulty should be to examine our own lives. I know that sounds outlandish, and, like Elisha’s king, you may be tempted to harbor ill will toward the messenger! But it needs to be said, because sometimes God does “decree” difficulty come to us so that we will turn back to Him. Pain and trial prompts us to repent, so the hard things we experience can serve to make us holy for our own happiness (Heb. 12:1-13). When trials come, let us approach God with open hearts. Let us be ready to learn, ready to see the error of our ways, and ready to pursue holiness for our happiness and his glory (Ps. 139:23-24). Let us not kill our messengers and thereby miss the message that is intended to bless us.

Lectio Divina  is written by F. Lionel Young III, who serves as the Senior Pastor of  Calvary Church  in Valparaiso, Indiana. He is the author of  A New Kind of Missionary, a popular introduction to global Christianity.