We all respond differently to adversity in life. There are some, like the patriarch Joseph, who faithfully follow God through betrayal, enslavement, and prison—discovering God's strength in the middle of their trials. There are others, like Joseph's father Jacob, who have a different response. While Joseph was rising to power in Egypt, Jacob never got over the loss of his son. He was singing a different song, a song like the one many of us sing under affliction. Maybe you have sung it before: "No one loves me, this I know, for my trials tell me so. Misery's where I belong, join me in my pity song."
In times of fear . . . even the light at the end of the tunnel can seem like an oncoming train
Jacob thought everything in the world was against him. His favorite son Joseph was lost to a wild animal (he was actually the second to the Pharaoh in Egypt). His second born Simeon was being held captive by a heartless Egyptian leader (he was actually being hosted by his brother Joseph). A severe famine was threatening his family and the only solution involved risking the life of his other favorite son Benjamin (a ruse developed by Joseph to test his older brothers). How did Jacob respond? He said, "You have deprived me of my children. Joseph is no more and Simeon is no more, and now you want to take Benjamin. Everything is against me!" (see Genesis 42:36). In other words, "Everything is against me. Nobody loves me, this I know, for my trials tell me so."
Now let's be honest. We can sympathize with Jacob. In times of discouragement and anguish, in times of fear and desperation, in times of anxiety and depression, it is easy to think that all hope is lost. Even the light at the end of a tunnel can seem like an oncoming train. But take heart. Some of the great and mighty men and women of God in the Bible have been there, and they overcame. You can overcome, too.
In 2 Kings 6 we read an amazing account from the life of Elisha, who succeeded Elijah as the prophet of Israel. Elisha served at a time when the mighty Arameans, or Syrians, threatened to wipe out the people of God. The king of Syria could have defeated Israel in no time, except for one thing: God was revealing to Elisha the secret strategy of the enemy king. Every time the Syrians had a national security council meeting, God revealed the plan to Elisha, who relayed it to Israel's king. Thus, the people of God foiled the Aramean plans repeatedly. This put Elisha on the Syrian king's hit list.
Then, one morning, Elisha's servant left the house only to discover the massive Aramean army surrounding them. He ran back inside and told Elisha—now this is a Youssef translation—"We are dead in the water, boss. We are done for. We are finished!"
But Elisha responded, "Don't panic! Those who are with us are more than the ones against us" (see 2 Kings 6:16). I can imagine the servant looking at Elisha asking, "What are you talking about? Have you seen these guys? Have you seen their weapons? Have you seen their number?" At that moment, Elisha looked up to heaven and said, "Lord, open his eyes that he may see," and God opened the spiritual eyes of Elisha's servant. All at once, he could see chariots of fire on the surrounding mountains. He became utterly overwhelmed by the power of God's army. Then, Elisha prayed again, and God struck the Arameans with blindness. In this way, Elisha and his young servant delivered the enemy into the hands of Israel's king.
My friend, what is frightening you the most today? What surrounds you and makes you feel defeated? Is it the temptations and entrapments of this world? Is it the weakness and wandering of your flesh? Is it the malicious hatred of the devil? We know each of these exist and pursue us at times. We know they oppose the faithful children of the living God. We know that. But don't let that be the last word. It is time to stop believing that everything is against you, to stop singing, "Nobody loves me, this I know, for my trials tell me so."
No. Ask the Lord to open your eyes to see the chariots of fire, to see the power of God, to see the mercy of God, to see the army that is at your side—for "the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world" (1 John 4:4).
Jacob believed that everything was against him, but he didn't see the whole picture. He didn't know the Truth: Joseph was alive and well. Through him, God was working to rescue Jacob's entire family. In the same way, when we look at our circumstances, when we focus on the attacks, when we see the adversity, we go the way of Jacob and Elisha's servant—forgetting how powerful our God is. But when you allow God to open your eyes, you can answer the lies head on, declaring, "God is for me, and if He is for me, I pity the one who stands against me." Or, in the words of one simple song of faith, "Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so."