What do you do when you find yourself at a point in your life at which everything seems to be falling apart? When you cannot stay where you are and you cannot go back, because both places have nothing left to offer.
They said to one another, “Why are we sitting here until we die? If we say, ‘We will enter the city, the famine is in the city, and we shall die there. And if we sit here, we die also. Now therefore, come, let us surrender to the army of the Syrians. If they keep us alive, we will live; and if they kill us, we shall only die.” 2 Kings 7:3-4 NKJV
This is the story of the four lepers at the gate of Samaria. At the time of this story, the Syrians had placed a terrible siege against Samaria, resulting in famine so bad that people were not only eating donkey’s heads but also cooking and eating their own children. For the four lepers, going back to the city was not an option, especially with the city under siege.
The four lepers were cast out of the city because of their condition; they were considered ‘unclean’ and therefore could not mingle with ‘clean’ people. They were ostracized from their community because of their condition.
The irony of life is that those who cast them out had their own ‘condition.’ While the four lepers could not hide their condition, evidently eating away parts of their bodies, their fingers or their toes. The ‘clean people’ get to hide their condition, and yet it eats away their souls. The reality is, even those we perceive as living a better life may well be struggling with their own condition.
The very city that the lepers were cast out of was now under siege. And the four lepers were faced with two options; death or death. “If we go to the city we die, if we stay here, we die.” Damn if you do, damned if you don’t. Death from their perspective was inevitable.
It was at this point that the lepers conferred among themselves and decided that, since they were going to die anyway, they might as well do something unimaginable – go out to the enemy camp and beg for food. They may be killed, but again they might save their lives. They reasoned. Personally, I don’t think their chances were very good, considering they were lepers, already rejected by their own people. But hey, they had nothing to loose. It was at that point that the four lepers decided to do something about their situation. Change happens when the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain of change. When we begin to look at our situation through the lens of hope instead of the lens of hopelessness, it shifts the course of our entire existence.
Sometimes God brings us to a point of desperation to challenge our faith. He does not do it to hurt us, but to help us realize that there is more to us than the leprosy that seems to have taken over our identity.
The four lepers took bold steps of courage and ventured into the unknown, moved towards the enemy camp, and as they did that, God did the unthinkable.
When they reached the edge of the camp, no one was there, for the Lord had caused the Arameans to hear the sound of the chariots and horses and a great army, so that they said to one another, “Look the king of Israel has hired the Hittite and Egyptian kings to attack us!” So they got up and fled in the dusk and abandoned their tents and their horses and donkeys. They left the camp as it was and ran for their lives.
Did you know that our God does not need any help with anything? He did not need any help from the Hittites and the Egyptians. God caused a great sound that the Syrians thought a great army was approaching, so they fled for their lives, leaving everything behind including food.
God honors our frail, fearful, limping steps of courage we take in the midst of adversity. The lepers’ duty was simple to walk towards the Syrian camp and the rest was for God to do. When God saw the four lepers stepping out with great courage, He met them with His supernatural power.
Not only did the lepers eat, but they also shared the good news with the ‘clean people’ in the city, those that had cast them out. God used them to save the entire part of Israel. The weakest people were used to bring in God’s will and deliverance.