On one occasion, a New York Times reporter asked the former U.S. Secretary of State Dr. Henry Kissinger about a crisis in the Middle East that could escalate into violence within a week. His reply was short and unexpected. Kissinger replied to the reporter, saying, “There cannot be a crisis next week. My schedule is already full.” We know that life does not work this way. We know that crises come whether our schedules allow them or not, whether we are ready or not. How do we handle crises, unexpected and dire turn of events in our lives? What a crisis does to us, often depends on what the crisis finds in us. A crisis, misfortune and trauma don’t make a person but they reveal what a person is made of.
One of the Scripture readings for today is from the book of prophet Isaiah, chapter 36. It is about Hezekiah – a great king, a faithful man of God who faced not one but three immense crises in a very short period of time. 1. The Assyrian empire’s mighty army invaded his small country; 2. he became very sick and almost died, and 3. a national crisis caused by the visit of the Babylonian envoys. Hezekiah relied on his faith and on the power and wisdom of the living God and came out of the first two crises victoriously, but he stumbled and lost his way when it came to dealing with the Babylonian envoy paying him a friendly visit after he recovered from the deadly disease. But how, you might ask? How could the mighty king who managed to defeat the Assyrian armies and find healing through his faith lose his battle and lose his path of faith in something so simple as hosting a delegation from Babylon?
Hezekiah worked side by side with the prophet Isaiah, consulted God and the prophet in every decision he made. Yet, he somehow failed to do so when it came to forming a new friendship with the Babylonians. Babylon did not pose any risk to Israel at the time and Hezekiah perhaps was confident that the envoy was truly there to simply check on his well-being. Unknown to him, the delegation’s true mission was to gain access and collect information on his kingdom. Hezekiah toured them through his country and showed them his treasures, cities, fortifications, and armies that prevailed against the Assyrians. For a brief moment in his life, the faithful servant of God let down his guard. A dire mistake for which he and his country would pay a hefty price later when the Babylonians captured Israel.
What can we learn from Hezekiah? How can this story help us to realign and center our lives on the living and life-giving Son of God? 1. Hezekiah’s story is a reminder for us to make faith an integral part of our decision-making process by bringing our plans and thoughts to Him before we would ever act on them. And not to do so only when we face a critical decision or crisis but make this a lifestyle, an integral part of how we live and function. 2. We live in a broken world, a world that drifted away from its original divine purpose and design, a world where hate, jealousy, greed, violence, disease and death often cast their dark shadow over our lives. When one-day crisis comes knocking on our door, the story of Hezekiah can empower and encourage us that as he fought and prevailed against the Assyrian army with God’s help, as he recovered from a deadly disease through his faith, we too can prevail and withstand any crisis in life by turning to God, relying on God, accepting that Christ alone is the ultimate refuge and hope of our lives, today and forever, amen.