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586. A Tale of Unintended Consequences

Sometimes we’re way too shortsighted in our prayers.
IT’S WORTH CONSIDERING
The biblical account of the life of King Hezekiah holds a powerful lesson for us today. He was one of Judah’s best kings. He did a lot of things right. When Jerusalem was surrounded by the Assyrian army, he sought the Lord and appeared to have God’s interests at heart:

“And now, O LORD our God, deliver us from his hand that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that Thou alone, art God” (Isaiah 37:20).

God heard Hezekiah’s prayer (Is. 37:15-20) and the angel of the Lordangel slays assyrians struck down 185,000 men from the Assyrian army while they were asleep. That’s when things started going downhill for Hezekiah. He became mortally ill, and Isaiah told him to get his house in order, for he was going to die. Hezekiah prayed to God, asking for an extension to his life. God responded by granting him an additional fifteen years. Two events that happened during those fifteen years led to some of the darkest days in Israel’s history.

The son of the King of Babylon sent a present and letters to Hezekiah after hearing that he had been sick and had recovered. Hezekiah was so taken in by this act of kindness that he showed the Babylonian representatives everything that was in his treasuries, all the city’s fortifications, and everything an enemy would need to know to quickly capture the city. When the prophet Isaiah learned what Hezekiah had done, he told him that days are coming when everything in his house and in the Temple treasuries would be carried off to Babylon. In addition, some of his sons (yet to be born) would be taken to Babylon where they would become officials in the Babylonian king’s palace. Hezekiah’s response is almost incomprehensible:

“The word of the LORD which you have spoken is good.” For he thought, “For there will be peace and truth in my days” (Is. 39:8).

The second event that occurred during his extra fifteen years was the birth of his son, Manasseh, who turned out to be the most wicked king in Judah’s history.

AS I SEE IT
It’s hard to argue with Hezekiah’s request for God to lengthen his life. Wehezekiah's recovery would probably offer a similar prayer. It makes sense…from our perspective. That’s where we get off track. We see everything from our perspective. God, however, sees things differently. He knows the outcome before it happens. He knew both events listed above would happen if Hezekiah lived. Perhaps that’s why God had planned to end his life. He gave the choice to Hezekiah and the king responded just as we do when someone is sick. He prayed that God would remove the “problem” and all the associate pain so he could live out his life as he had planned. The consequences of God granting his request were devastating for the entire nation.

The lesson we should learn from this is that we need to be more concerned with God’s will than our own, especially in our prayers. God is sovereign and He allows all the pain that enters into our lives. To automatically pray that God would heal someone may be going directly against God’s will. The safest way to pray when someone is sick is that God’s will be done. If God can be glorified through a miraculous healing, then we can be a part of that through our prayers. If, however He has something else in mind, we must not stand in the way. From the lesson of Hezekiah, it seems to me that we should pray that God would allow any painful condition to continue until it has accomplished God’s purpose, and that God would provide the grace to endure it.

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