This rather long and drawn out story continues part of the story we mentioned last week in that we see the Armies of Aram attacking Israel. Desperation is running wild in the streets. Famine has hit the city and the worst things you could imagine that could result of starvation are happening inside the city walls. Life is falling apart and everyone is looking for a way out. Last weeks story showed us that God is in the business of fighting for humanity, but this story shows us that the worst of things can bring a fear into our lives and make it seem like God is non existent or at least not looking out for us.
The worst element of this story is that people resorted to cannibalism in order to survive. The city of Samaria was so worn out that people are doing anything to survive. Desperation can create a reality full of danger and vices. The reason is that desperation can suck hope out of your heart just like a parasite can latch onto an animal and suck life from its body. Fear has that kind of effect on people.
Have you ever been frozen in fear or had that moment where fight or flight was in your system? It can be a scary moment. It can make you do anything to survive. We all have a mental system the makes us fight for something. This story shows us that what you value can make you do crazy things: power, survival, fame, etc. What we are invested in during everyday life defines what we live for when we are struggling to survive.
What’s amazing about the difference between hope and despair is that both are perspectives of the the same reality. Despair looks at the reality at hand and says there is not future reality. Hope is quite different. It says that despite the reality now, there can be a good reality in the future that is different than now. What most of the people in Samaria were thinking about God was that he could not produce a better future. Elisha, however, had imagination. He knew what God wanted to do and what he could do, which produced hope in his life.
Heroes of faith have an amazing ability to look the terrible circumstances in the face and say that this moment will pass and a better future will come. They know that God has good plans and is actually interested in our situations and chooses to be invested in our survival for eternity. We as a people can decide if we are going to buy into despair and let that be what makes our reality. We also have a choice how to live our lives now in a way that cultivates hope so that when those times come we can become heroes like Elisha. If we begin to see what God can do and believe that He will do it, we can live in such a way that will produce a better future. We have to make the choices to invest in each other so that we will not live like the Israelites did in this desperate time. We have to choose to live in a way that will bring life, hope, and love. If we begin down that path we will become reflections of this go and become heroes of faith. We will influence a world in despair that is waiting for a reason to hope.