Boy, there are some crazy kings in charge throughout 2 Kings 16-17. They are self-defeating, but they can't see it. And the more time that goes on, the worse the situation gets for God's people. Fighting and instability are everywhere. The king of Israel joins forces with the king of Aram and attempts to overtake the king of Judah, but it doesn't work. That's because Ahaz, king of Israel at the time, decides to send silver and gold from the Lord's temple and treasures from the royal palace to the king of Assyria in order to illicit his help in defending Judah against the joint attack by Israel and Aram. Israel is falling apart. In the end, the king of Assyria invades Samaria and deports all the Israelites living there to Assyria. God's people are exiled from their homeland.
What a mess! When things get this bad, we can't help but ask "why." We search for a reason behind the madness that can overwhelm us.
And if you've ever been there, in the middle of some crazy, hard and impossible-to-understand stuff, you've probably also heard a certain all-too common (in my personal opinion) response- that is the saying that "everything happens for a reason."
Take the situation in today's reading for example. Things are bad, really bad. God's own people are forced to leave their homes and live in a foreign land. That must have been heart wrenching and scary for families, especially children.
The terrible situations for both parties (the Assyrians attempting to live in Samaria and the Israelites exiled to Assyria) are no accident. God warned His people that this would happen while giving them His law and sending prophet after prophet. So, it is true that everything is happening for a reason.
This popular saying bothers me sometimes, though, because I have heard it and thought it one too many times in my life without knowing what in the world I am doing. It suggests that God has a plan for everything, which He most definitely does, and it's a perfect one and a good one.
But, it also worries me, that saying "everything happens for a reason" desensitizes me to the always necessary personal responsibility I have in honoring God's plan for my life. And that kind of attitude can, if I'm not careful, blame God instead of honor Him.
God's Word says,
36 But the Lord, who brought you up out of Egypt with mighty power and outstretched arm, is the one you must worship. To him you shall bow down and to him offer sacrifices...
41 Even while these people were worshiping the Lord, they were serving their idols. To this day their children and grandchildren continue to do as their ancestors did.
I don't share my thoughts to offend or discredit anyone but to challenge us to examine our cultural, routine, and habitual ways of thinking and doing. Are we continually "bowing down?" And if we are, to whom are we bowing down?
Those around us are watching, especially our children. And I know, they are much more likely to do what I do than to do what I say...
I can't live for myself and live for my Lord and Savior. That isn't faith.
What are your thoughts on "everything happens for a reason" in light of today's reading?
A prayer for today-
Thank You for saving me by Your grace, through my faith in Jesus Christ.
Guide me in all the ways I need to turn to Jesus and bow down to You, Lord. Help me let go the "idols" in my life and hold on to Your outstretched hand instead.
Fill me with Your perfect love and Your power and peace that passes understanding. Use me as I live and learn.
I also this prayer for ____________ today.
In the name of Jesus I pray,