REFLECTING ON 2 KINGS 7:1-18
The nation of Guyana has some unique characteristics. Its people represent many races. It is considered part of the Caribbean, but geographically it is not. It is the only nation in South America whose official language is English. Some of the indigenous people maintain their language, yet many in the southwest by the Brazilian border speak fluent Portuguese and there is a rapidly growing Spanish-speaking population. However, what is not unique to Guyana are the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. The cases are rising, and people are dying. Like the rest of the world, this nation is experiencing what humanity everywhere is facing.
Life is filled with highs and lows, ups and downs, progress and setbacks, norms and inevitable changes. But in whatever season of life we find ourselves, God is there. The children of God should never forget these words of Jesus after his resurrection and just before his ascension: “ … surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:20b, NIV). Throughout the ages, people have faced times of misery, but God provided messages of hope and performed miracles.
In 2002, as the people of his nation faced tough times, renowned Caribbean Baptist theologian Rev. Dr. Burchell Taylor said, “For many persons, life is now experienced as a burden instead of a blessing – a burden too painful to bear and too heavy to confront.” It has been the experience of people worldwide at various points in their lives and even in the history of their nations.
In 2 Kings 7, we find that God’s people were facing times of misery. They were facing a famine, so food was in short supply and at high prices. This resulted in many people going without food. No food eventually results in death. As bad as this was, Samaria was also under siege by the Syrian army. They could be attacked at any time and easily defeated because of their lack of food. One can only imagine the distress of the people in that nation. However, if the situation was bad for the average person, it was even worse for persons with leprosy. Famine or no famine, besieged or not, life was already hard for people with this disease. Their misery included being isolated from friends, family, and the wider society. It would have been a little easier for them if at that time they had the technology we have today where we can see and speak to each other from across the globe. How fortunate we are today!
Nevertheless, this does not reduce the different challenges we face. Francis, a church member, explained that 2020 has been a difficult year for him. There have been five deaths in his family. Moreover, for two weeks now a relative who has a severe case of diabetes has been on a ventilator as he battles with COVID-19. Francis is particularly worried about his elderly parents who are not in the best of health and have been enduring bad news after bad news.
Hilary has been working with an organization for more than a decade, but she feared that she has not been at the organization long enough to receive any benefits. As a single parent living in a relative’s house, her desire was to build her own home by purchasing building materials supplied by her organization at a discount price. She worked six days a week, yet she found it difficult to save money over the years because of her small earnings. Then came the pandemic that made life even more difficult.
Sharonda is a hardworking teacher at a leading school in the country. She has been looking forward to a promotion, but the pandemic forced the sudden closure of all schools. She was not formally relieved of her duties like several of her colleagues, but she was not among the few that were chosen to teach online classes. A promotion at this stage did not seem possible because she was not even sure if she still had a job. In tough times, a message of hope is essential.
Amid misery, God provides a message of hope. The prophet, Elisha, said to the king of Israel, “Hear the word of the Lord. This is what the Lord says, ‘About this time tomorrow, a seah of the finest flour will sell for a shekel and two seahs of barley for a shekel at the gate of Samaria’” (2 Kings 7:1, NIV). What a message! In 24 hours, food will be in such abundance that the prices will drop. For such a thing to happen, a miracle must take place, but one of the king’s officers confessed his doubt. He said, “ … even if the Lord should open the floodgates of the heavens, could this happen?” (2 Kings 7:2, NIV) The king’s officer doubted the message of hope God gave through Elisha.
Sheridan Voysey, a regular contributor to Our Daily Bread devotional, in speaking about his own experiences and that of others said, “Our God is deeply relational, so he loves to speak to us through others.” God can give you a message of hope through a prophet, a pastor, a friend, a neighbor, or whoever God chooses. Above all, the Scriptures are filled with God’s promises. We can receive messages of hope by reading or listening to the Scriptures. The question is, “Will you believe God’s message?”
Francis knows the misery of multiple deaths in his family, but he also knows Jesus’s discourse about heaven in John 14 where he informed us that he prepared a place for us in his Father’s house. Sharonda, who has been listening to countless sermons as she seeks to build her faith, encouraged her friend Hilary not to give up hope on the God who performs miracles. God performs miracles in ways we do not expect.
Four men with leprosy had a conversation. They made up their minds to die but decided it was better to die in search of food than to die by doing nothing. As they approached the Syrian camp, God made their footsteps sound like a great army which made the Syrians flee. This resulted in the miracle as described in the prophet Elisha’s message to the king.
It is nothing short of God’s grace that Francis’s relative is still alive despite his health challenges prior to COVID-19. Moreover, those who died in the Lord will resurrect at his return (1 Thessalonians 4:16).
During the pandemic, Hilary got a new higher paying job working three days a week, benefits from her previous job, and close to a million Guyana dollars in building materials for the construction of her house that is progressing well. Sharonda was called out of the blue not only to teach an online class but a higher grade than she had ever taught, yet she is doing an excellent job. She received her promotion.
God’s grace on Guyana is evident. It is a miracle that the COVID-19 cases and deaths are not at least double the current numbers. For more than six months, many people have become relaxed in exercising the measures that were implemented to safeguard people from the virus. Churches, including the Baptist community, both virtually and in person, continue to minister to persons facing misery, preaching messages of hope, and witnessing God’s miracles.
As you face your difficulties, do you believe the message of hope God gave you? Do you believe that God can do a miracle for you? In his book The Message of Acts, theologian John Stott made reference to John Wimber who posited, “ … if we have hesitations about … ‘signs and wonders’ today, we must make sure that we have not confined both God and ourselves in the prison of Western, rationalistic unbelief.” God is still performing miracles today, so expect your miracle.
 These words of Rev. Dr. Burchell Taylor were quoted in a sermon preached by Rev. Fr. Michael Elliott at an Ordination Service at the Cathedral of St. Jago de la Vega Spanish Town, Jamaica, on Sunday, July 2, 2017 – Diocese of Jamaica & The Cayman Islands. Retrieved from http://www.anglicandioceseja.org/?p=9942.
 Sheridan Voysey, 059 Seven Ways God Might Be Speaking To You, para. 10. Retrieved from https://sheridanvoysey.com/059-seven-ways-god-might-be-speaking-to-you/
 Stott, John R.W., The Message of Acts: The Bible Speaks Today (Illinois: Intervarsity Press), p. 100.