Dark Days Overcome

Bible Book: 2 Chronicles  7 : 12-14
Subject: Trouble Turned to Victory; Pandemic; Terror Overcome

Dark Days Overcome

Dr. J. Mike Minnix, Editor, www.pastorlife.com

2 Chronicles 7:12-14: Then the Lord appeared to Solomon by night, and said to him: “I have heard your prayer, and have chosen this place for Myself as a house of sacrifice. 13 When I shut up heaven and there is no rain, or command the locusts to devour the land, or send pestilence among My people, 14 if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land."

In America and around the world we have been brought to a halt by an unseen enemy - a virus - the Coronavirus known as Covoid 19. Millions are sick, thousands are dying and no one knows for sure how long this will last. Businesses are closed or are working at a snail's pace. Millions are facing a future that is unknown in regard to a job and health. This is a dark day for the USA and the world at large.

I remember another day that was a dark day for America - it was September 11, 2001. It will be a day etched in our memories for as long as we live. Years from now, many in this room will recall exactly where you were when you heard what happened in New York City and Washington, D.C. The scenes captured on video tape and film will be played again and again on television, but they will also be re-run in our minds a thousand times.

Can things like terrorist attacks or world-wide pandemics ever make sense? Does anybody know why these things happen?

The truth is there is much more than we may think to the humiliation we feel when we see the world we thought we controlled turning over on top of us. Within minutes - seconds really - the human family can be brougth to its knees. Normally we go along thinking we have our hands on the wheel and we are in control of our lives. Then, suddenly, we discover the truth. We are not in control at all. Control is an illusion.

I want to share with you that dark days can be the precursor to a bright future. What we do in the dark moments that challenge us makes all the difference. When the bottom falls out, do you have anything or anyone underneath to catch you?

I remember seeing the World Trade Center Towers collapse as I watched on television. People were running as fast as they could to get away from the falling debris. As they ran, a massive cloud of black smoke and debris swept down behind them. Finally the darkness overran them and the cameraman. The bright New York sky was transformed into darkness.

LIfe can be like that. We seem to be in the sunshine and suddenly a great, dark cloud comes over our lives, our jobs, our health or our families. I want you to see three things concerning how a terrorist attack or a viral pandemic, though the sorrow and pain cannot be fully removed, has within them an opportunity for a brighter tomorrow.

I. The When Of Disaster

First, we must look at the when of disaster that is mentioned in verse 13 of our text. You see it there in tthe text, the word "when." This word speaks of time or moment that a disaster can come upon a people.

Now note carefully that the word in this verse is not "if" but "when." We are reminded in 1 Peter that we are not be surprised "when" the fiery trials come upon us. James speaks of this in chapter 1 of his epistle, stating that we should rejoice "when" we face trials, because the perseverance through these burdens will develop us into better believers. My point is simply that trials and suffering are not an "if" in our lives but a "when." We will face our share of hardships and troubles in life. We are not to be surprised by them. God said they would come.

Yet we do have some natural reactions to such things - note a fourfold reaction to terror and the presence of death in our midst ...

A. We Question

We want to know why this or that thing has happened. Why did God allow it to happen? If He is sovereign, could He not have prevented it?

The answer to the question "why" is not a simple one. Billy Graham said, at the National Memorial service in Washington after the terror attack, "I have learned that I cannot answer all the questions regarding suffering and sorrow in this world. But I know God is a God of grace and love."

Why has this awful pandemic struck our world? It is frightening and heartbreaking to see thousands dying and know it could be your family, or even you next. We can ask "why," but we cannot get a full and definitive answer. There is however a clear correlation to great national and international disasters and a rejection of God. That is exactly what God was saying in the verse before us. "When" disaster strikes we need to look first at our moral situation. I would ask you to answer this question for yourself: Has America and the world at large departed from the Lord in actions and attitudes in the last few years? Certainly your answer is, "Yes."

Secondly ...

B. We Become Angry

Our second reaction to a tragedy and illness is to become angry. We become angry and want to do something to those who hurt us. Of course there is no way to strike back at a virus. We can become angry at leaders in our countries and wonder why they were not prepared for such events. We even sometimes become angry at God. How could He allow this to happen to us - to our world? Well, first of all, we need to be reminded that this is not our world. We are here for a limited time - we don't own the place. Surely it helps in any situation to respect the ONE who does own it, whatever the circumstances. Surely anger does not solve or help the problems we face.

Next ...

C. We Feel Sadness

The third reaction is sadness. We cannot look at our televisions and see the bodies stacked up on the floors of nursing homes, hospitals or funeral homes and not feel the deep hurt for those families. The sadness is even greater when it is someone we know who has died as a result of some horrible thing. Right now, with the pandemic going on, it hurts to see people sitting for miles in food lines or waiting for hours to get a test to see if they have the virus. Tears are natural at a time like this.

But, let me come to the fourth and critically important reaction we can have ...

D. We Pray

The fourth reaction to tragedy such as America and the world is facing right now is prayer. Oh, I know there are those who laugh at the idea of praying. Some news people on liberal channels were actually mocking those who call for prayer in the midst of tragedy. They look at those of us who do pray regularly as if we are a bunch of kooks and nitwits. Yet, as this crisis and others get worse, even the hard hearted begin to ask, "Should I begin to think about praying?" There is an old saying I heard when I was in Vietnam years ago: "There are no atheists in foxholes."

Sadly,. some people treat prayer like an emergency light in the closet at home. When the lights go out they begin to ask, "Where is that light?" They stumble around to find it. Prayer ought never to be treated in that manner. Prayer is not simply for disasters, it is something Jesus said that we "ought always do."

What is it we want to get out of these four reactions to tragedy? I can tell you, we want to get from the "when" to the "then." What do I mean by this? Look down in the middle of verse 14. You will see the word "then" in the passage. God speaks of a time of healing. He speaks of a time of reversing our tragedy and turning it into triumph. That is what we want. We want to go from the "When" of disaster to the "Then" of deliverance, but God doesn't work like that. There is a step in between the "Then" and the "When" that we must take.

II. The Then of Deliverance

Our four reactions to disaster all relate to what we want to happen. We want to get from the disaster to the deliverance, and we want that to happen quickly. We don't want to take up much time with this matter. We would like to "Nuke" the problem and get back to our normal lives as quickly as possible. It doesn't work like that.

You cannot get from the "When" of disaster to the "Then" of deliverance without the "If" of devotion.

Yes, there is a God in heaven. But He is not a first-aid kit that lies hidden in some drawer or closet till hardship comes. He is God. He is Lord. He is Sovereign. We cannot use Him to simply get over our hardships and then put Him back in the closet till we need Him again.

We need to be reminded that America is a country founded on Biblical principles and each life in this world is meant to operate within His principles. When we leave those principles, as we have done in the past, we leave our foundation. The collapse of the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York City is symbolic of the collapse of our moral and religious foundations in America. The disease that is now tearing apart the foundation of the people's lives is an example of what can happen to us - any and all of us. We must have a foundation that is stronger than the human one. Foundations erode over the years - but God promises a foundation that the winds and rain of time cannot wash away.

It may be that what we are seeing right now is a warning. Things could get much worse. Everyone is saying, "Oh, we are going to get everything up and running again very soon." I hope that is ture, but we better not take that for granted. There is hope - but the only real hope is in God.

So, to get to the "When" of disaster to the "Then" of deliverance what must we do?

III. The If of Devotion

God told the people what they were to do "when" disaster strikes.

A. Pride Must Be Removed

Our haughtiness must be replaced with humility.

B. Prayer Must Be Offered

Our prayers are not to be spasms of emotion that last for just a few days of grief, but they are to be a sustained way of life. Someone has well said that prayer will keep you from sin, or sin will keep you from prayer. God knows that sincere prayer will help keep us close to Him. We must establish a pattern of prayer that is sincere and steadfast.

The Hebrew word for prayer in this passage speaks of interceding. This word means to stand between judgment and the judged. Proper praying stands as a shield.

Also, this word means to meditate. It means to do more than ask favors and hurry away. We must take time to pray. We need to spend some time with God. We must meditate on His Word and on His nature.

C. Priorities Must Be Changed

God says we must seek HIS face! Why? One can pray for something without ever talking to God. Prayer must be more than mere wishing. God means that our prayer life must be a sincere seeking of His presence. We must have a priority that is based on longing to be with God and live for God, not to simpley get things from God. When God says we are to seek His face, He is saying that we must seek more than His handouts.

D. Purity Must Be Established

We are to turn from our wicked ways. We must confess our sins. We must acknowledge our transgressions and seek God's cleansing.

The "when" of disaster cannot be changed into the "then" of deliverance unless we come to the "if" of devotion. If we come to God, as we should, He will hear, He will answer and He will heal our land.

That is His promise, and unlike man, God never breaks a promise!

We are in a dark period just now - but God is Light and He can shine that light on our path if we will but turn to Him with honest repentance and true faith. Dark days can be overcome - all that is needed to defeat the darkness is the Light - He is the Light!