I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. -Psalm 119:11
By Anna Pempeh (WITHIN Devotional Writer)
“In those days Hezekiah became terminally ill. The prophet Isaiah son of Amoz came and said to him, ‘This is what the Lord says: Set your house in order, for you are about to die; you will not recover.’ Then Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to the Lord. He said, Please, Lord, remember how I have walked before you faithfully and wholeheartedly, and have done what pleases you. And Hezekiah wept bitterly. Then the word of the Lord came to Isaiah: ‘go and tell Hezekiah, This is what the Lord God of your ancestor David says: I have heard your prayer; I have seen your tears. Look I am going to add fifteen years to your life”
In a conversation with my small group at church recently, we pondered the question, “How do we renew our minds and put off sinful attitudes/actions (Colossians 3) in order to put on the fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5)?” One sister bought up looking at the examples of faithful saints of old who show us examples of this very thing. I have been wrestling with what unencumbered, trusting faith looks like practically and this made me think about Hezekiah in Isaiah 37 - 38.
In Isaiah 37, Hezekiah prays that God would save Israel from King Sennacherib of Assyria. He appeals to the Lord to save them “so that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you Lord, are God - you alone” (Isaiah 37:20). Once again, in Isaiah 38, Hezekiah prays to God to spare his life and God answers. Hezekiah, in both instances, exhibits faith that is rooted in knowledge of who God is, and faith that is aware of His power, faithfulness, and tender care. And this tender care is where I want to sit. We often can approach God well aware of His power but forgetful of the love He not only exhibited in the cross, but still does through His nearness-- especially seen in His Word and experienced in prayer.
Hezekiah’s faith in Isaiah 37 and 38 shows a saint responding twice to tension, temptation, distress, and affliction with a simple firm faith of dependence. Crying out to God in prayer is where he “[turns] his face.” I long to turn to and run to God - our Abba Father - more like this! Hezekiah prays honestly and desperately!
My Tony Evans study Bible has a “hope word” here that says, “prayer is relational communication with God.” And though it seems simple enough to admit, I often forget God is El Roi - the God who sees; and I can find myself treating Him as though His heart is weak and blind as mine; trying to hide my groans and feigning fear as if He is not the all- knowing, sustaining, Creator God - already aware of my struggles.
Sisters, when we abide in a place of intimacy with our Father in heaven through prayer, our identities are informed by our status as children of God, and we are empowered to operate in a greater measure of faith. And we learn this in the trials we face the most. We can take comfort in God’s response to Hezekiah, “I have heard your prayer; I have seen your tears. Look I am going to add fifteen years to your life” (Isaiah 38:5).
God is concerned with the intimate details of our lives and our pain. Psalm 56:8 says “you yourself have recorded my wanderings. Put my tears in your bottle. Are they not in your book?” How amazing is this? God is aware of our suffering and ultimately took on humanity and suffered in our place! We know Christ sympathizes with our weakness (Hebrews 4:16). This is beautiful - our faith is strongest when we see the depth of our weakness and need; and because of Christ’s work on the cross we can cry out before God, in bold desperation to find fresh mercy and grace in our times of need.
Sisters, our hope rests, not in the tests of our faith being removed, but because our God is faithful and he delights for his children to pour out their hearts as He works out His divine purposes.
We can pray that God would show himself strong over every stronghold that threatens to shake our faith because we know He who holds us fast will never be shaken! Know this sisters- God hears and responds to our prayers and He will sustain us by His Word (Isaiah 50:4).
Let us rejoice and delight in this truth and take comfort in who our God is! He sees us, He listens, and no tear goes unnoticed. Most importantly he is near and we get to commune with him.
The weekly devotionals seek to encourage you to dig deeper into Scripture as you take the time to daily read, meditate, and internalize the verses in the devotional, along with the passages provided below to give greater context. Take the time to read them throughout the week (repetition is important) and ask the Holy Spirit to help you grasp what God is showing you about Himself, about you, and how to live in light of these truths.
Passages to read/memorize/meditate:
1 Peter 5:6-11
Questions to Reflect on: