NOTE: This article was written in late March 2020 and updated in April. It is a reflection on God's love and care; and how God can open our eyes in the midst of tragedy. While it refers specifically to the COVID-19 pandemic, the message can serve as a reminder during the current turmoil in the U.S.—Editors.
Elisha was hiding in Dothan from his enemies because they had become aware that he knew exactly what they were doing as they tried to thwart the plans of God’s people. This is the historical context of the story.
“When the servant of the man of God got up and went out early the next morning, an army with horses and chariots had surrounded the city. ‘Oh no, my lord! What shall we do?’ the servant asked. ‘Don’t be afraid,’ the prophet answered. ‘Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.’ And Elisha prayed, ‘Open his eyes, Lord, so that he may see.’ Then the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha” (2 Kings 6:15-17, NIV).
Today we see a vast army encircling the camp around us. At the time I wrote this article, there were more than 578,000 confirmed coronavirus disease victims in the U.S.; and more than 23,000 people have died. Canada has more than 26,000 cases; and Bermuda (57) and Guam-Micronesia (148) are not exempt.*
What will we do in the face of this great, silent, and invisible enemy that has come against us?
Elisha’s story can bring us closer to God and help us understand that He is always with us, loves us, and cares about us — even in the moments when we are isolated and alone. Even in those moments when we discover we have the coronavirus, and even in those moments when a loved one or a friend has been taken as a victim of this disease.
Elisha prays, “Open his eyes, Lord, that he may see.” Elisha’s servant would have given up and resigned himself to death had it not been for the direct and the gracious intervention of God. When he viewed the situation based on his history and experience, based upon his knowledge of what was outside the walls in terms of earthly power, and based upon the apparent ineptness of Israel’s armies, the servant concluded all was lost. But God opened his eyes.
Sometimes in our pain and self-focus — and our focus upon others — we fail to see and sense the presence of Jesus, the Creator and the Redeemer of our universe, right here at our side.
God has given us some special gifts. He’s given us an intelligent will, the ability to make decisions that are not based on emotions or feelings, but rather based upon data and information. He gives us the ability to perceive, to know, and to understand.
He has also given us bodies with systems that can fight this silent and invisible enemy. The numbers of people who have contracted COVID-19 and those who have died from it are terrible. Without making light of this grim reality, we realize there’d be far more dead if God hadn’t blessed us with our immune systems. We have the privilege of being stewards of our bodies and our health.
Finally, God has given us Himself. Ellen White writes, “The relations between God and each soul are as distinct and full as though there were not another soul upon the earth to share His watchcare, not another soul for whom He gave His beloved Son” (Ellen G. White, Steps to Christ, Mountain View, Calif.: Pacific Press Pub. Assn., p. 100).
Elisha’s servant did not understand this. He could see only through his own eyes. It was only when the Holy Spirit was given that he could see and understand the mighty presence of God.
No matter where we are today, whether we’re isolated in a sickbed or we have our family with us — no matter where we are, no matter how we feel, physically or spiritually — God sees. He knows and understands our circumstance, and, by His grace, we ask Him to open our eyes.
* These numbers are from the World Health Organization's Situation Report from April 15, 2020. As of the June 2, 2020, report, the numbers are: 1,783,638 confirmed cases in the U.S. (with 104,247 deaths); 91,351 cases in Canada; 167 cases in Guam; and 140 cases in Bermuda.