On July 3, 1863, Confederate General John Pemberton sent a note to Union General Ulysses Grant asking for terms to surrender the fortress at Vicksburg, Mississippi. He and his men, outnumbered 2 to 1, had endured 46 days of siege before reaching this breaking point. They were broken, exhausted and starving.
I think sometimes we can identify. Often we feel surrounded by one crisis or another. Things like financial pressure, employment issues, health concerns and family turmoil can leave us feeling cut off, hopeless, drained or abandoned. In most cases, those things don’t have the decency to hit one at a time. No, they come in waves that threaten to take us completely under.
In 2 Kings, Elisha and his young attendant found themselves on Syria’s most wanted list, and the king of Syria sent an entire army after the man of God.
And when the servant of the man of God [Elisha] arose early and went out, there was an army, surrounding the city with horses and chariots. And his servant said to him, “Alas, my master! What shall we do?”So he answered, “Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” And Elisha prayed, and said, “Lord, I pray, open his eyes that he may see.” Then the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw. And behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.
Open his eyes. I love that prayer, but it’s a difficult one. I think the natural prayer would have been more like, “Save us.” Or, “Deliver us.” Or even, “Destroy the enemy.”
“Open my eyes,” is a prayer of surrender, but not to the enemies or to the circumstances. It is a prayer of surrender to the God who controls the circumstances. It is a prayer that says I want to trust God more than I trust what I see with my own eyes.
It is a prayer God answers.