“Wait for the Lord, be of good cheer and let your heart be strengthened, and wait for the Lord” (Psalm 27)
This period in our lives can be one of uncertainty and frequent wondering when certain events will come to pass. When will I finally decide on my career and major? When will I enter into a relationship? When will I finally hear back from that internship?
With this uncertainty, we may begin questioning why God brings certain things to pass at particular times. It goes without saying that, as the prophet Isaiah writes, “[His] thoughts are above my thoughts and [His] ways above my ways” (Isaiah 55:8-9). The timing of our Heavenly Father is magnificent, and what better comfort is there than to rest assured that 1. He loves us individually beyond measure and 2. He is the Pantocrator, whose eyes “never slumber nor sleep”, whose loving gaze never departs from each of us (Ps 121:4).
Faith in His Divine Providence is critical to living a life according to His will. But why the long and anxiety-inducing wait? That’s a question I reckon we ask Abraham, Ruth, Hannah, and Joseph, as the righteous ones held fast to God’s promises, although plenty of events took place contrary to those promises before their realization.
But today I think we’ll focus on the story of King Hezekiah (See 2 Kings 18, also found in 2 Chronicles and Isaiah). What can we learn from his story?
- Keeping God’s word always before our eyes
About King Hezekiah, it is said that “he trusted in the Lord God of Israel… He held fast to the Lord; he did not depart from following Him but kept His commandments”. Real trust requires keeping the commands of the Lord always before our eyes. Our Lord Jesus, in His love, gives us this beautiful promise in return: “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him” (John 14:23).
- Immediate prayer
Sounds good so far. But then we have the antagonist come into the picture by the name of Rabshakeh (a messenger from the kingdom of Assyria, led by King Sennacherib), who wants to wipe out Hezekiah’s kingdom. He says to the Israelites: “What confidence is this in which you trust?… How then will you repel one captain of the least of my master’s servants?” He even tells them not to let Hezekiah advise them to trust in the Lord. King Hezekiah then hears the news of these terrifying threats. I admire his response greatly. He immediately enters the house of the Lord in prayer. He takes the letter and “spread it before the Lord”.
He said, “Incline Your ear, O LORD, and hear; open Your eyes, O LORD, and see; and hear all the words of Sennacherib, which he has sent to reproach the living God.” Cry out to the Lord in your worry and anxiety, and leave it at His feet that were wounded for your sake.
- Spiritual guide
In the Old Testament, the prophets generally guided kings to the way of godliness. They held them accountable and counseled them. We see the relationship between the Prophet Isaiah and King Hezekiah in this account. The Lord spoke through the Prophet Isaiah regarding what to do and what will come to pass, saying “thus says the Lord concerning the king of Assyria: ‘He shall not come into this city, nor shoot an arrow there, Nor come before it with shield..” (2 Kings 19:32) and that the Lord will defend the Israelites.
In the same manner, to receive instruction and counsel from our own spiritual guides is to learn to hear the voice of the Lord. The fathers of the church are a major voice by which we are lead to the way that leads to eternal life. Listening to their counsel and trusting their input on the timing of various events in our lives can be a source of peace as we navigate college and beyond.
- He leads us to victory
Imagine the anxiety that the King must have felt, thinking that his kingdom was to be wiped out in a matter of hours. Yet, when we trust in the Lord and in His timing, allowing Him to work in His Divine Providence, we realize that our doubts, anxieties, and confusion only served to blur the lens through which we see the Lord truly as He is, as Pantocrator (the Almighty) and Lover of All Mankind. In the story we are reading, the Lord leads His people to victory without them having to do so much as prepare for battle (you must read this story!). He fights for His people and does “more than what we ask or understand” (Liturgy of St. Gregory).
I wouldn’t be able to wrap up this article nearly as well as St. John Chrysostom, so I’ll leave it to him: “The righteous ones of old did not inquire into how and in what manner the promises of God would come to pass. And when they perceived everything to be in a desperate state according to human reckoning, they were not thrown into confusion, nor were they troubled. Rather, they endured everything with nobility, having the power of Him Who made the promises as a great proof of the good things to come.” (On the Providence of God, p97).
May the Lord grant us true faith in His promises and I pray that we trust that “The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the soul who seeks Him” (Lamentations 3:25).