Sunday, July 5, 2020

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven!

Good Morning!
Greetings in the name of Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Praying for you, your family, your community and the rest of the world.   Right now, the whole world is suffering because of the Coronavirus (COVID-19).   Let’s pray together to God, Our Ever-Loving Father, His mercy and protection on all, and God’s healing on those who are infected by the Coronavirus.   We all believe God’s grace and love rest on all who look upon Him every moment with faith in Him.  

My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken.  (Psalm 62:1)

Jesus is our healer and comforter.  He is always with us, and guides us.  And protects us wherever we go because He loves us more than anything else.  The proof is the cross, were Jesus bled and died.  There is only one reason why He died on the cross, which is us.  Each of us is saved by His grace and mercy that we do not deserve, but He willingly took the cross with joy while looking forward to seeing our eternal salvation on each of us.  This is the best news that we can ever have, and nobody has given this to us, because none can give us our eternal salvation that only comes from Him and faith in Him.  This is the truth, and God calls us even at this moment.  Whether we are weary or in joy, without this truth, we are nothing.  Our toils and joys are momentary, but what is waiting for us is forever.

For our momentary, light suffering is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison because we are not looking at what can be seen but at what cannot be seen. For what can be seen is temporary, but what cannot be seen is eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:17-18)
Jesus loved people, especially marginalized people at that time.   Some of us know about the Samaritans, who lived in the region of Samaria, which was in between Galilee on the north of Samaria and Judea on the south.  The region was forbidden for the Jews at that time because the Samaritans were unclean, and being associated with even one of the Samaritans made any Jewish people unclean.  This is more like COVID-19.  If we get close to a person infected by COVID-19, we are in danger of being infected by COVID-19.  Thus, we should not get close to anyone who are infected by COVID-19.  The Jewish traditions toward the Samarians was very close to that of the current COVID-19.  Thus, no Jews wanted to even get close to Samaritans.   Therefore, when Jews traveled to Galilee from Jerusalem located at the south of Samaria, they completely going around Samaria so that they could avoid any contacts with Samaritans.  However, Jesus was different, he loved to travel through the region of Samaria.  After all, the Jewish traditions were or men, not of God.  Jesus broke the men’s traditions because Jesus equally loved the Samaritans as much as He loved the Jews.

There was a small village between Samaria and Galilee.  In the village, ten lepers lived.

As long as the serious disease lasts, they will be ceremonially unclean. They must live in isolation in their place outside the camp.  (Leviticus 13:46)

Lepers could not live together with their families.  The reason was to protect their family and the Jewish community.  Like COVID-19, if a person infected by COVID-19, the person should not live with his/her own family.   Again, the reason is not to protect the COVID-19 patient, but to protect his/her families.  At that time, thus, the lepers had to live outside of the city, and lepers got congregate into one place to live together, which was the village.  Therefore, nobody wanted to come to the village where the lepers lived, and the lepers were practically abandoned from their families and communities.

In the village, there was one miracle.   Both Jewish and Samaritan lepers lived together.  Jewish lepers were unclean.   Samaritan lepers were unclean also.  Then they realized that there was no reason to not to live together.   In the village, both Jews and Samaritans lived together.

Among the ten lepers in the village, nine were Jews, and one Samaritan.  They eat together, and lived together.  Daily they also watching their bodies deteriorating gradually and steadily.  The deterioration was not so bad because they saw themselves every day, but it was different to other people, who did not see the lepers daily.  They saw big differences.  Like our teenagers, we, as a family member, hardly know how fast our teenagers grow, but our relatives or friends who don’t see our teenagers every day surprise as they see our teenagers grown inches (or several centimeters) whenever they see our teenagers.  The ten lepers knew the fact that their leprosy were getting worse every day, and they did not want to acknowledge because it was too painful.

Then one day, they heard about Jesus, who was coming to their cursed land, where nobody wanted to come.  Additionally, they hear Jesus was a miraculous healer, and Jesus actually healed a leper before.  What a sweet news to them!   Finally, they could see a hope that could make them out of the curse – slowly and steadily deteriorating and eventually dying alone without being surrounded by their loved family members.  The only hope was to be healed to normal so that they could go home to see their families again and live together with their friends in the same community without continuing the miserable outcast lives in the leper village. 

As soon as they heard the news, they looked each other, and they planned together.  They could not pass the life-time opportunity to meet Jesus.  They discussed how to ask Jesus so that Jesus surely would heal their leprosy.  Then they rehearsed multiple times.   They picked one person to take a role of Jesus, and together with the rest, they practiced.  They practiced how to shout and how to get to the attention of Jesus.  (We can easily imagine that for the lepers, it was much more important than having a job interview.)   They rehearsed till there was absolutely no room to make any mistakes, to be right at the first try.   They were under pressure.  This might be here the first and the last chance to see Jesus and get His attention.  That’s it.  When they became fully confident from their rehearsal, they together quickly moved to where they were told that Jesus would be.

As getting close to the place, they imagined how good it would be if they were really healed by Jesus.  They thought that they would be lepers forever till their death.  Thus, they had never talked about being healed among themselves.  Indeed, talking about hopeless fact only brought them more pains to them.  For them, healing was an unattainable hope.  However, it was not easy to completely abandon their hope of healing because it was only hope that they could have.  How irony!    Each of the lepers had to fight this fight internally every day whenever they remembered their families.  They had often unbearable nights, when waking up from a dream of seeing their family with a clean body.  Finally, the time had come that they could have their dreams come true.  

When they actually spotted Jesus, who was walking down the road along with His disciples, a huge crowd of people were with Jesus also.  All of the ten lepers wanted to run directly into Jesus, but they could not.  Jesus was a Jew, and they were unclean lepers.  They had to keep distance from Jesus.  (Yes, we can easily imagine what the scene actually looked like because we are currently practicing social distancing due to COVID-19.)   As they rehearsed, all ten lepers together lifted up their voices from a huge distance, saying

 “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.”  (Luke 17:13b)

Their voices carried their hope in the air, which was mixed with their desperation and miseries accumulated so many years in their leprosy.  Jesus stopped and looked at them.  For the first time, they saw the face of Jesus, who was filled with mercy and love that could not be found from anywhere else.  Jesus’ eyes were telling His unfathomable grace and peace.  Jesus was, indeed, radiating His love, peace and comfort, which they had never experienced before.   All of their concerns and miseries were suddenly forgotten before Jesus.  They felt the time had just stopped.  They did not know what to do next.  They had literally forgotten all things except their desire of being in His peace, mercy and love forever.

Then Jesus said,

“Go and show yourselves to the priests.” (Luke 17:14b)

The ten lepers initially questioned to themselves whether they heard correctly or not because Jesus did not say anything about their healing that they really wanted to hear from Jesus.  They looked at each other, and soon they realized that indeed Jesus did not say anything about their healing.  Jesus simply told them to go and show themselves to the priests.

At that time, only were priests able to declare that one person was free of leprosy and clean.  After getting the priest’s approval, a leper could go back to one’s home and live together.  In fact, Jesus tested their faith whether they would go to priests without any explicit healing by Jesus on spot.   Without a physical proof nor a sign of their healing, it would be not easy to go to the priests.  It would be even stupid to see the priests without their clean body.   They carefully looked at their bodies, but their bodies were exactly same as before they met Jesus.  They struggled. 

One obvious option was to try out although they would be treated as the fool who tried to see the priests even though their bodies were not healed from their leprosy.  While they were struggling, Jesus started walking again and talking with others.  More people flocked around Jesus, and the lepers felt that the people did not want for the lepers to get close to them. 

Thus, they were almost forced to go to the priests because there was no other option.  At the same time, they really wanted to believe what Jesus told -- the priests would pronounce their miraculous healing.   Thus, they were walking toward the priests.  Their heart was mixed with hope and doubt initially.  As walking toward the priests, their hope in faith was winning.  This was the reason they could continue walking toward the temple where the priests were.   Even so, their struggles between hope and doubt continued.  Only was the reason why they could continue walking was the hope was slightly stronger than their doubt, which was the engine for them to walk and walk.  When they passed the midpoint between Jesus and the priest, they found something miracle happening in their bodies. Their skins were getting back to normal and returning to healthy skins.  A miracle was happening in their bodies.  Then they realized that Jesus was the true healer. 

The ten lepers were so happy, and started to run to the priests to show their bodies miraculously healed from their terrible leprosy.  Now they could really look forward to seeing their family and reunite with them.  As soon as getting the priests’ permission, they could go back to home.  The home that they had missed so long.   What a joyful moment!

One of the ten lepers was a Samarian.   The Samaritan leper suddenly stopped.  The rest continued running toward the temple to see the priests.  The Samaritan leper realized that he could not go together with the nine Jewish lepers to see the priest because he was a Samaritan.  All Jews treated Samaritans poorly and they did not want any Samaritans got close the them.  Now, he was no longer a leper, but he was still a Samaritan.  It was certain the Jewish priests would not welcome him.  Instead the priests treat him unclean anyway because he was Samaritan.  Suddenly he felt loneness because he was alone.  He looked back Jesus in his heart, and reckoned that Jesus would treat him warmly and equally although Jesus was a Jew.  The Samaritan leper indeed had never met one single Jew like Jesus.

The Samaritan leper looked at his clean body again.  Then he decided to go back to Jesus instead of going to the priests whom would not welcome him.  He walked back to Jesus while the others were running to the temple.  However, he was not sure whether Jesus would welcome him or not.  After all, Jesus was a Jew.  He speeded up his pace to catch up Jesus.  Jesus was walking with His disciples and the large crowd of people were following Jesus.  As getting close behind the people, the Samaritan leper started praising God with a loud voice.  All looked back.  They saw one of the lepers, who was completely cleansed, praising God.  The Samaritan leper’s face was filled with thanksgiving and joy.  Then the Samaritan leper fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving him thanks.   All looked at him carefully.  He was a Samaritan.   Then people moved away from the Samaritan leper.  He was no long a leper, but he was still la Samaritan.  The people avoided him, but he did not care. 

Jesus and the Samaritan were at the middle, and the disciples were there too.  But the rest of the people moved away from the Samaritan leper.  What a sad scene!   But the Samaritan was so happy to be with Jesus regardless what was happening around him.    The people gathering around Jesus made a huge distance not to be defiled by the Samaritan.  How awkward it was to the Samaritan leper!   Even before falling down at the feet of Jesus, the Samaritan knew this would happen.  He did not care of the huge crowd of the people around Jesus because he found Jesus and he believed Jesus would accept him not like the other Jews.

Jesus looked at him lovingly, and asked

“Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” (Luke 17:17b-18)

Jesus knew exactly what was happening at the scene, but made a question loudly and clearly so that the people distancing from the Samaritan could hear clearly also.  Yes, the healed leper was a Samaritan, but Jesus warmly welcome the Samaritan leper.  The Samaritan’s small hope in faith was indeed correct.  Jesus did not reject him like the other Jews.  Jesus poured out His love on the Samarian, and touched him with his merciful hand, which was completely forbidden by the Jewish traditions. 

Anyone touching a Samaritan becomes unclean.  Then the defiled person has to go through a ritual to be cleansed again.  If not, although the defiled person is a Jew, he/she cannot be in the Jewish community.  All of the people around Jesus were surprised when Jesus laid His hand on the Samaritan.  All wanted to criticize Jesus who was breaking the Jewish transitions, but nobody could speak up.   The place was filled with God’s grace and peace, which was so strong that they could not speak against what Jesus was graciously touching the Samaritan.  The Samaritan had an unique experience of directly receiving God’s grace and peace being poured out of Jesus through His hand.  Finally, after many years of being leper and Samaritan, he felt he was in Heaven with Jesus.

Jesus, then, said to the Samaritan leper, who was cleansed,

“Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.”  (Luke 17: 19b)

Jesus is the source of healing, and peace and comfort.  Wherever Jesus is, God’s grace, mercy and love are magnified.   The Samaritan leper received all of these gifts from Jesus.  Then Jesus gently and lovingly grabbed the Samaritan man’s hand and lifted him up.  The Samaritan man kept carefully watching at Jesus’ eyes, the endless pool of love and mercy.  As getting up, the Samaritan leper left the scene and he headed toward his home to reunite with his own family while being filled with Jesus’ grace and love.   He could not forget forever what was told by Jesus, “your faith has made you well.”   When he heard this, he could not understand because he did not know whether he actually had faith or not.  When he was walking to his home, he realized that after meeting Jesus that he initially put all his trust on Jesus.  He did not know fully about Jesus, but when he returned to Jesus, finally he fully understood Jesus by experiencing His love.  The Samaritan leper also realized that his initial trust in Him was the faith.  Although it was not much to show, God answered.  God lifted him up and heal him although he was a Samaritan who was treated as “unclean” by the Jewish priests.   Yes, his faith was so small, but it pleased God because he sincerely sought Jesus with humility and thanksgiving.

And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.  (Hebrew 11:6)

God does not ask a huge faith, but our authentic and earnest faith regardless its size.  The true size of our faith is only known to God.   Two small copper coins offered by a poor widow were received by God much more than a large sum of money offered by a rich man because God sees the hearts, not the outward appearances.    

For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7b)

What happened to the other nine Jewish lepers?  Of course, they were healed by Jesus, because Jesus was merciful.   Then they hurriedly ran to the Jewish priests.  The Jewish priests saw them, and announced them clean on the spot.  Then the Jewish priests told them free to go home and to have fellowship with other Jews without any further restrictions.  The priests indeed amazed at their healings, which, they thought, were impossible. They had never seen such a case before.  The priests asked what happened, but the nine Jewish lepers rushed out from the temple and went home with a short answer: “Jesus did.”   The priests puzzled over the name, Jesus, while asking “Can any human beings cure their leprosy?”  They shocked their heads because it was impossible.  Especially, their answer did not make sense at all.  In the meantime, the nine lepers, whom were cleansed by Jesus, hurriedly left the temple. 

As a result, the nine Jewish lepers and the priests even did not have a chance to know more about Jesus, let alone experiencing Jesus like the Samaritan and receiving His grace, mercy and love.  Why?  The Jewish lepers fixed their eyes on the world instead of Jesus.  Additionally, the Jewish lepers knew they were welcome by their own Jewish priests, and they would be welcome by their own Jewish community, not like the Samaritan.  What really did happen to the two groups of lepers at the end?  The Samaritan leper got both physical healing and Jesus, Our Savior, while the nine Jewish lepers found their own earthly life back.  That’s it.  Why?  Because they were already richer in the world than the Samaritan leper.  The nine Jewish lepers chased down their riches and they got, but they did not get the most precious gift of all, Jesus Christ, Our Savior.

Please God!  One who cares for the weak and the poor in heart.  Praise His name!   For the Kingdom of Heave is those who are weak and poor in heart.   

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  (Matthew 5:3)

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Return to Our Merciful God, who deals bountifully with us!

Good Morning!
Greetings in the name of Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Praying for you, your family, your community and the rest of the world.   Right now, the whole world is suffering because of the Coronavirus (COVID-19).   Let’s pray together to God, Our Ever-Loving Father, His mercy and protection on all, and God’s healing on those who are infected by the Coronavirus.   We all believe God’s grace and love rest on all who look upon Him every moment with faith in Him.  

But the Lord said, “You have been concerned about this plant, though you did not tend it or make it grow. It sprang up overnight and died overnight.  And should I not have concern for the great city of Nineveh, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left—and also many animals?”  (Jonah 4:10-11)

The king of Aram was humiliated by God repetitively.  Then he sent his most trusted and capable commander to capture Elisha.  Whenever he made an attack plan secretly and took his armies to conduct a surprise attack on Israel armies, he could not find Israel armies, even one single Israel solider.  The Israel armies had already escaped from the area.  The king of Aram could not understand why, but later he realized that Elisha told his surprise attack plan to the king of Israel.  Then the king of Israel quickly escaped with his armies before the Aramean armies reached to the Israel armies. 

The king’s commander moved out with the king’s armies, and surrounded the city of Dothan, where Elisha stayed.  Surprisingly, Elisha did not escape form the city before they surrounded the city.  Then it was just a matter of time before actually capturing Elisha.  By the way, the Aramean commander did not know the true reality.   The Aramean armies were completely outnumbered by the heavenly armies of angels.  The armies of the angels made a formation up in the air to protect the city, and they were watching over the Aramean armies.  Elisha saw this amazing scene in faith, but his servant could not.  Later, Elisha prayed, and God opened the servant’s eyes.  Can you imagine the heavenly armies of angles completely filled the entire sky, which dwarfed the might-looking Aramean armies?  This is what Our God did for His faithful Elisha.  Our God is equally doing for each of us even today and at this moment.  Why?  He is our Ever-Loving Father, and we are His most precious children.  Thus, whenever we are completely surrounded by our enemies or the unsurmountable problems of this world, please pray to God and lift up eyes to see His heavenly angels completely filling the entire sky.  

As the Aramean armies were approaching to the city, Elisha prayed. God heard his prayer, and made the fearful and mighty looking Aramean armies get blind.  Suddenly, the entire Aramean armies could not see anything.  Without seeing, they had to stop and stood still.  Then they were led by Elisha into a fortified city in Samaria.   (Samaria is a part of the kingdom of Israel.)  When they opened their eyes, they were completely surrounded by Israel armies in the middle of a fortified city in Samara.  They came as captors, but now they became captives.  God told using the mouth of Elisha to be generous to the captives. The Aramean armies were well fed, and sent home safely.  The king of Israel did not pay back eye-to-eye.  Instead, he treated the enemies generously per the God’s command.  Then there was peace between Israel and Aram.

However, this peace did not last long.  The Aramean king again mustered his entire amies and invaded Israel.  Hs besieged Samaria.  The siege lasted so long that there was no food left.  Even a donkey’s head was sold as food, which costed eighty pieces of silver.  A cup of dove’s dung was sold for five pieces of silver.  The life in the city of Samaria was miserable. 

The people came to the king of Israel, and begged for food, but the king had nothing to give out.   He answered,

 “If the LORD doesn’t help you, what can I do? I have neither food from the threshing floor nor wine from the press to give you.”  (2 Kings 6:27b)

The answer reflects his heart-breaking pain.   As the king of Israel, he was helpless.  He could do nothing for his people.  He went to God and prayed.  He also put sackcloth under his robe next to his skin so that nobody could see, but he was mourning before God every day. 

One day, one of his people reported that people ate their own child.  He was shocked.  Some of this people did something unthinkable.  This, initially, made him mad, but soon it drove him into a deep sorrow.  It was the saddest moment in his life.  In despair, he tore his clothes.  He finally said,

"May God deal with me, be it ever so severely, if the head of Elisha son of Shaphat remains on his shoulders today!"  (2 Kings 6:31b)

The king of Israel poured out his extreme frustration.  He even challenged God for not hearing his prayer.  Indeed, he kept quiet for long time patiently, but God did not answer.  The situation in his kingdom had gone too far.  It literally hit the bottom of his entire kingship.  Then his heart raced for searching for a scapegoat.  (This is a sad manifestation of human’s sinful nature.)   Then the king poured out all blames on the scapegoat.  The scapegoat was Elisha, the God prophet of his kingdom.  The king could easily justify Elisha as his scapegoat. Elisha was the very one who asked him to be generous to the Aramean armies trapped in his own city and surrounded by his own armies.  At that moment, he could have had completely wiped out the entire Aramean armies.  Instead, he listened to the God’s message brought by Elisha.  Now, he felt that his good deed was punished.  This train of his thought made him more completely convinced that Elisha was the source of all of the problems – that the entire city was being starved to death.   What a sinful human mind the king had!   

Then the king quickly called in his most trusted and capable officer, whom the king always leaned on.  The king gave a message to the officer, and sent to Elisha.   The king’s message was

“This disaster is from the Lord. Why should I wait for the Lord any longer?”  (2 Kings 6:33b)

The content of the letter was quite different from what he initially uttered with his own mouth in frustration and anger.  The king of Israel softened his heart while writing the message, because he came to himself.  As coming to himself, he realized that God was the only hope.  His heart was heavy, and even his praying heart was dried up.   He was in despair.  Then, he quitely prayed to God, “This is the only hope that I can have now.”  He put his last hope in God by sending his message to Elisha. 

This Psalm reflected the king’s heart and many of us who have been praying to God:

How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?
    How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I take counsel in my soul
    and have sorrow in my heart all the day?
How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?

Consider and answer me, O Lord my God;
    light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death,
lest my enemy say, “I have prevailed over him,”
    lest my foes rejoice because I am shaken.

But I have trusted in your steadfast love;
    my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.
I will sing to the Lord,
    because he has dealt bountifully with me.  (Psalm 13)

Have we had anger toward someone like the king of Israel?  Then we have to learn the lesson here.  We should not carry out our heart desire immediately into an action, but sit down and write what we have to say to the person.   Of course, not just writing down what we think, but praying to God for his strength, guidance and wisdom before writing. We cannot be perfect.  Thus, we will surely meet such a situation that the King confronted, and then we become angry at the person.   Even so, we have to subdue our anger by praying to God while asking His strength to soften our heart toward the other person, and ask His forgiveness also.  Why?

“You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, a and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment.  (Matthew 5:21-22a)

This was told by Jesus.  Jesus tells us that if we are angry to someone, then it is same as murdering the person.  Indeed, the first murder of human history was started by Cain’s anger toward his brother Abel.  Then his anger overtook Cain, and Cain could not control himself and killed his own brother Abel.  It is also true that it is practically impossible not to be angry, but as soon as we become angry, we should take off our anger by praying to God while asking his strength overcoming our anger.  If not, we have already murdered the person, and it can be manifested in our life as a real action of killing the person when all conditions are right.  Our anger is a fire, and it will surely consume us unless we put out before it is getting uncontrollable.

Elisha knew the officer’s coming with the king’s message, because God told Elisha.  As soon as the officer with the King’s message arrived, Elisha told to the officer

 “Listen to this message from the LORD! This is what the LORD says: By this time tomorrow in the markets of Samaria, six quarts of choice flour will cost only one piece of silver, and twelve quarts of barley grain will cost only one piece of silver.” (2 Kings 7:1b)

The officer assisting the king said to the man of God,

“That couldn’t happen even if the LORD opened the windows of heaven!” (2 King 7:2b)

He did not believe God and His message carried by Elisha.  For him, what was told was impossible.  The city had nothing left to eat, and the people in the city were starving.  Unless the whole city was filled with all kinds of food, the price of choice flour would not become as low as quoted by Elisha.  How logical he was!   However, he could not understand what God actually planned to do.  Our God is omnipotent.  Before God, nothing was impossible, and it is still true today.

But Elisha replied,

 “You will see it happen with your own eyes, but you won’t be able to eat any of it!”  (2 King 7:2c)

Elisha confirmed God’s message.  Then he prophesized what would happen to the office who did not believe.  The officer went back to the king, and reported what was told by Elisha.  He did not forget to tell his own opinion that the God’s message was impossible.  The king so much trusted the officer, and the king also did put lots of weight on the opinion of the officer.  Even so, in his heart, he really wanted what was told by Elisha would come true by tomorrow.  This shows how important one’s faith before God is.  If the officer had believed 100%, then the king would have had easily believed the God’s answer given through Elisha.  The king was greatly influenced by the officer.  As a result, the king did not give any orders to his people so that they get prepared to receive what was promised by God the following day.  Instead, the king was just confused.  So far, he prayed and payed.  Finally, he received God’s answer.  But he could not believe the God’s answer 100%.  How sad it was!  The king just wished that the answer would come true.

How many times have we prayed to God earnestly and fervently for God’s answer?  Then once we received God’s answer, have we believed 100% without any doubts?    Or just wishing that what we prayed would come true. 

Hannah, who was the mother of Samuel, did not have a baby although his husband loved her so much.   He always comforted her, but Hannah was in her sorrow not having a baby.   She prayed and prayed before God at the temple.  Then God answered her prayer through Eli, the high priest at the temple. 

Eli answered, “Go in peace, and may the God of Israel grant you what you have asked of him.”

She said, “May your servant find favor in your eyes.” Then she went her way and ate something, and her face was no longer downcast.   (1 Samuel 1:17-18)

Then she believed 100%, and in her faith, she went home.  She got pregnant, and bore a male baby, Samuel, one of the greatest prophets ever recorded in Bible.

Without fully believing the God’s message, the king went bed.  He did not know what God was actually doing at that moment.  God was faithful to what he told and exactly did as he told through Elisha, the prophet.  

At the very moment, God had caused the Aramean army to hear the clatter of speeding chariots and the galloping of horses and the sounds of a great army approaching. “The king of Israel has hired the Hittites and Egyptians to attack us!” they cried to one another. So they panicked and ran into the night, abandoning their tents, horses, donkeys, and everything else, as they fled for their lives.

There were four men with leprosy sitting at the entrance of the city gates. “Why should we sit here waiting to die?” they asked each other. “We will starve if we stay here, but with the famine in the city, we will starve if we go back there. So we might as well go out and surrender to the Aramean army. If they let us live, so much the better. But if they kill us, we would have died anyway.”

So at twilight they set out for the camp of the Arameans. But when they came to the edge of the camp, no one was there!   They went into one tent after another, eating and drinking wine; and they carried off silver and gold and clothing and hid it. Finally, they said to each other, “This is not right. This is a day of good news, and we aren’t sharing it with anyone! If we wait until morning, some calamity will certainly fall upon us. Come on, let’s go back and tell the people at the palace.”

So they went back to the city and told the gatekeepers what had happened. “We went out to the Aramean camp,” they said, “and no one was there! The horses and donkeys were tethered and the tents were all in order, but there wasn’t a single person around!” Then the gatekeepers shouted the news to the people in the palace.

The king was in the bed, but he could not sleep well.  His heart was heavy due to the siege by the Aramean armies, his starving people, and the rather confusing repot of his officer.  He was questioning whether it was the real answer from God for his prayers that he presented to God with all his heart and mind every day.   On the same day, he actually heard God’s answer, but he could not 100% believe.  He knew it was a real pity.  Then he suddenly heard a strange news shouted by the gatekeepers.  

Thus, the king got out of bed in the middle of the night.  He was processing what he heard, “There was nobody at the Aramean camp while everything that they came with was there including horses still tied to posts.”  He had fought many battles, but he had never seen such a scene.  The report about the Aramean camp was completely out of order.  Then he thought that it must have been a trap to lure the Israel armies out of the city to capture all of the Israel armies at once.  He was still of his own mind and rationale.  He could not connect the strange news with his prayers.  Not like Hannah, the king did not believe 100% the God’s answer.

The he quickly summoned his officers and told,

“I know what has happened. The Arameans know we are starving, so they have left their camp and have hidden in the fields. They are expecting us to leave the city, and then they will take us alive and capture the city.” (2 Kings 7:13b)

One of his officers replied, “We had better send out scouts to check into this. Let them take five of the remaining horses. If something happens to them, it will be no worse than if they stay here and die with the rest of us.”

The king committed the last resources that he had in order to test out the Aramean.  Two chariots with horses were prepared, and the king sent scouts to see what had happened to the Aramean army.  

They went all the way to the Jordan River, following a trail of clothing and equipment that the Arameans had thrown away in their mad rush to escape. (2 Kings 7:15a)

The scouts returned and told the king about it.  The news soon spread out like a wild file in the city. 

The people of Samaria rushed out and plundered the Aramean camp. So it was true that six quarts of choice flour were sold that day for one piece of silver, and twelve quarts of barley grain were sold for one piece of silver, just as the LORD had promised. (2 King 7:16)

God didn’t do in the way that the people including the king expected God would do, but God did His own way that nobody could even imagine.  We, in fact, love to limit God by imposing our own thought and plan on God and dictating the way how God should do. 

If we try to figure out how God actually would do after our prayers, this is a really good sign to limit His power and dominion on all of His creation including us.   Thus, such an attempt is enticing, but we are truly limiting God.  God is not like us.  We are His mere creatures.  God is the creator.  Additionally, He owns and governs everything that He created.  Let’s look up the clear night sky filled with countlessly many stars or on a clear day, stand at the edge of a beach alone and look out to the end of the infinitely spanning ocean.  Then we feel the immensity of His creation.   We can literally feel how powerful Our God is, who created heaven and earth, and everything in it.   God is beyond our comprehension. If not, God is not a true god.  Then He is equal to us or at most at a similar level of us.  If so, why should we believe Him?  It is logically nonsense.  In truth, Our God is the one and only one God, and the only God whom we can completely trust, believe and lean on under all circumstances whether we are in joy, sorrow, victory, failure, or pain.  Our God is always faithful to us, and He is the most power and omnipotent God.

For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.  (Isaiah 55:9)

Then what happened to the king’s officer who did not believe the God’s answer.  Here is what happened to him:  the king appointed his officer to control the traffic at the gate, but he was knocked down and trampled to death as the people rushed out.   As a result, the officer could not eat even one gran of the barley. The officer was even cynical about God by telling, “That couldn’t happen even if the LORD opened the windows of heaven.”

The officer did not know how big God’s hand was.  God was beyond his entire comprehension.   Howe many times do we limit God using our own rationale?   Regardless how we rationalize what God would do, God faithfully accomplishes what He told us to do.

Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the LORD that will stand.  (Proverbs 19:21)

The officer completely did not believe by making a cynical statement about the God’s message because to him, it was impossible.  Then he could not taste the abundance but being killed by the people rushing out from the city.   How about the king, who prayed, but only believed half-heartedly?   (The king represents many of us, who pray, but do not believe 100%)

The king saw that everything happened exactly as the man of God had prophesized.  The king saw the power of God.  He, then, looked back how little his faith was. He prayed and prayed, but when he actually received God’s answer, he did not believe completely because it was illogical, and impossible to even his own eyes.  Additionally, his own most trusted officer agreed that it was impossible.  Indeed, the officer did not believe at all.  Although the king did not believe 100%, he still wished that the God’s message would come true.   The king’s faith was so little to believe the seemingly impossible answer from God after his long-draining prayers.  Finally, the king realized how sinful he was.  Although he prayed, he did not believe completely and wholeheartedly because the God’s answer was seemingly impossible to his eyes.   He was in between faith and his own rationale, and struggled.

Then why did God actually provide what was prayed by the king who had such a little faith?  Because God was merciful to the king and his people.  God’s answer to the starving city was not only for the king but also the people in the city.  The people were almost starving to death.  God was gracious and full of mercy to all including both the king of little faith and the people in the kingdom.   However, we should remember.   The officer who completely reject God’s message did not get God’s mercy.   Consequently, although we are of little faith, but we can confidently approach to Our God with prayers.  God hears us although our faith is even smaller than a mustard seed, which is the smallest seed of all.  This is the true mercy of God, and His mercy.  We Praise God!   Even today, we look up the cross and approach to Him because He is merciful and gracious.   Then God will surely deal bountifully with us!

But I have trusted in your steadfast love;
       my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.
I will sing to the Lord,
       because he has dealt bountifully with me.  (Psalm 13:5-6)