Trusting in the Power of God’s Presence

Life is full of distressing situations. The distress becomes very acute when we feel radically incapable of confronting the challenges that face us. Forces that are determined to destroy us often threaten us, but we feel unprepared to overcome them. At such moments, we feel how radically weak we are as mortals and are easily inclined to compromise our faith and convictions. However, great believers are known by the way they respond to difficult situations.

The text of 2 Kings 19, which we find in the first reading of today’s liturgy, brings the reader face to face with a typical situation of crisis where faith overcomes mighty forces. King Hezekiah of Judah finds himself in great trouble as he gets confronted with the threat of Sennacherib, the powerful king of Assyria. He knows very well that the ruthless Assyrians do not joke. He already knows what has happened to Israel of the North and all other kingdoms within the region. He is naturally in panic. But he does not give way to despondency. The text narrates his response that expresses his great faith in the power of God’s presence in his city and country.

Hezekiah’s Religious Response to Threat

In his first reaction to the threat, Hezekiah tears his garments, wraps himself in sackcloth and goes into the temple. All these are religious acts of mourning and repentance. Then he sends messengers to Prophet Isaiah to seek God’s intervention. The interesting message he directs to the prophet is to let God know that the threat of the Assyrian king is an insult directed to the God of Israel. The prophet, as would be expected, encourages the king to remain steadfast in faith and not to fear (2 Kgs 19:6-7). This encouragement means that God is the one that will fight for Hezekiah.

In his second reaction to the threat, Hezekiah meets God directly in prayer (19:14-19). Here, we meet one of the most powerful prayers in the Bible. In the prayer, Hezekiah reminds Yahweh, the God of Israel, to remember His supremacy: His unique identity as the only true God, the supreme king and creator of heaven and earth, meaning that the gods that the Assyrian king brags of having conquered are really not gods, neither they nor the gods of Assyria. He reminds God that Sennacherib is challenging the divine sovereignty, taking upon himself the power that belongs to Yahweh, the God of Israel.

God’s response to Hezekiah is immediate. He sends the prophet Isaiah to reassure the king of the divine support and the doomed failure of the Assyrian expedition. That very night the Assyrian army gets mysteriously defeated and Sennacherib retreats to his country only to be murdered by two of his own sons (19:35-37).

Lessons from the Faith Response of Hezekiah

The text of 2 Kings 19 is a lesson and a warning to all who challenge the power of God because of their presumed successes and authority. The king of Assyria already felt he was the king of the universe and could act as he wanted since he had already succeeded in the past. God teaches him that God remains the only Ruler of the universe.

Another important message is the value of trusting in God even when life situations appear hopeless. Hezekiah’s great trust in God pays off and reminds one of how the young David defeated the great Goliath because of his total dependence on God.

The Power of Divine Presence

God is ever present in our midst. What matters is our recognition of this presence. When one recognizes the presence of God and the power of that presence, there is no doubt that threatening forces pale into insignificance. The great thing is to know our great worth before God and how invincible we remain when with Him. This is why Jesus encourages us in the Gospel of today from Matt 7:6,12-14 to always recognise the treasures we possess and never to toy with them, never to expose them to swine, which is to those who will make a mess of them. This is what he means by urging us not to throw what is holy to the dogs. The more we recognize and cherish our spiritual gifts, the greater empowered we feel to confront difficult situations.

[Readings, Tuesday Week 12: 2 KGS 19:9B-11, 14-21, 31-35A, 36; MT 7:6, 12-14]

Fr. Luke Ijezie

Rev. Fr. Dr. Luke Emehiele Ijezie comes from Amucha in the Imo State of Nigeria. He is a priest of the Catholic Diocese of Orlu, Nigeria, and ordained a priest on 24th September 1988. With a Licentiate and Doctorate in Sacred Scripture (SSL, Biblicum, Rome, 1995, STD, Gregorian University, Rome, 2005), he has since 2006 been a lecturer in Sacred Scripture and Biblical Languages at the Catholic Institute of West Africa (CIWA), Port Harcourt, Nigeria. He is the national secretary of the Catholic Biblical Association of Nigeria (CABAN) and executive member of the Association of African Theologians (ATA), a member of various professional associations, among which are the Catholic Biblical Association of America (CBA) and the Society of Biblical Literature (SBL). He is the author of numerous publications. Contact: Catholic Institute of West Africa (CIWA), Port Harcourt [email protected]

Leave a Comment