Written by Evi Idoghor, Creator of Letstalknationblog.com
As I sit down, putting pen to paper, my heart still beating a little faster than it should, pondering the events that have occurred over the past couple of days, in my country, Nigeria. What began as an ultimate cry for help, ended in despair; fear, and hopelessness just like the time during the heat of the COVID-19 pandemic, which sadly many countries are still battling, have once again laced the atmosphere.
People are wondering, is this the end? Is Christ about to make His debut once again? Are we on the brink of war? Did God bring me this far into 2020, to be met with an even bigger storm? Social media has not helped to quell the fire as well. Just one tweet of hopelessness or anger can send the country’s demographic online into a frenzy.
Lord knows how many times I have deleted Twitter and Instagram and downloaded them in the past couple of days, wanting to protect my sanity, but at the same time fearing that if I am not online, then how would I know when calamity is lurking around the corner?
But now, I have decided to take a stance in this season of life, which is one of hope and encouragement, refusing to use my platform as a proponent of spreading fear, but rather hope in what seems like a hopeless situation. I am not here to recount the petrifying events that have occurred, instead, I have decided to do a study on what we as Christ-followers, can do when all hope seems lost. Now, let's look at two ways the Israelites in the book of Judges handled difficult times.
1) They cried out to God: In Judges 13, the children of Israel cried out to God for deliverance from the Philistines because they had been oppressed for 40 years.
“Again the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord, and the Lord delivered them into the hand of the Philistines for forty years.” Judges 13:1 (NKJV)
If you are familiar with the story of the Israelites, from the time Joseph died, till when they were delivered from the land of Egypt by Moses, their relationship with God was up and down, just like many of us, the relationship we have with Him today. He will tell them one thing, and they would do the exact opposite. Just like children. Then God will hand them over to their enemies, and they would deal with them, then the Israelites would remember—Ah! we have a God in heaven, who delivered us from slavery with a mighty hand and He can help.
Then they would cry out to Him, He would be merciful and then send someone to fight for them, or give them victory over their enemies, and they would sink right back into sin. Throughout the Old Testament, we see this narrative over and over again, until God decided to come Himself and save the world through His son, Jesus Christ.
It is easy for us to point our fingers in this season of life; placing blame on whoever we think is the source of our turmoil. We can point fingers at China and say they are the cause of the pandemic, at Donald Trump, saying he is the reason America is the way it is, perpetuating racism, or at the Nigerian Government, for running the country aground. Fair enough, we all have our reasons.
But as Christians, let us not be quick to forget the part sin has to play in any form of oppression. In the heat of what was happening in Nigeria, one day I woke up and discovered that the word of the day from the Bible app was taken from 2 Chronicles 7:14 (NKJV), “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.”
Oftentimes, when we recite this scripture, especially when something terrible occurs in a nation, we skip this part—and turn from their wicked ways. What is happening in the world right now is a result of sin. It is imperative, that individually and collectively as a nation, we turn from our wicked ways, so God can heal our land. God gave the Israelites over to the Philistines because of their sin. God is not oblivious to what is happening around the world.
Still, we fail to involve Him in our dealings. We cheat, lie, gossip, slander, murder, steal, destroy, covet, hate, fornicate, disrespect, blaspheme, oppress, and the list is endless. One sin is not greater than the other. “These six things the LORD hates, Yes, seven are an abomination to Him: A proud look, A lying tongue, Hands that shed innocent blood, A heart that devises wicked plans, Feet that are swift in running to evil, A false witness who speaks lies, and one who sows discord among brethren.” Proverbs 6:16-19 (NKJV)
And I’m here thinking, I don’t shed blood, I am not prideful, then I remember—oops! You told a lie the other day!
Sometimes we carry on, oblivious that our actions are abominable to the One who made us. We go out on the streets, condemning acts of violence, as we rightly should, but forget that when we tell a lie or are prideful, we are just as abominable to God, as the one who shed innocent blood. Don’t throw stones at me oh; I am just sharing the word of God.
But, thank God we serve a God who has already provided atonement for our sins. Thank God we serve a living God, who is just and also merciful. It is from this place of mercy that the children of Israel constantly pulled on God’s heartstrings. They understood that as powerful and just as He is, He is also merciful.
2) They had to be patient: Back to our story in Judges 13, God heard the cries of His people and decided to intervene. Also, His intervention took time.
If you are familiar with the way God acts, as often revealed in scripture, there are times when He shows up immediately, as was the case of Paul and Silas in Acts 16, and there are also times when He takes His time to show up, as this story in Judges 13 depicts. Either way, He is in the midst of all the happenings.
This past week revealed a lot of heightened emotions, it incited social media wars, and almost began to sow discord amongst friendships. Many thought that others were doing too little, whilst some thought others were doing too much. Whatever end of the spectrum you happened to find yourself on, there was one thing we all wanted, change.
I have mentioned this time and time and again. We are the generation who want things to happen and happen quickly. It is written that as far as the heavens are from the earth, so is God’s way from our way (paraphrased). Just because God hasn’t acted in the timeline that we want Him to, doesn’t mean that He is blinded to the happenings in the world. Because we don’t see His hand quickly, many now detest the place of prayer, so much so that if people muttered under their breath “pray for Nigeria,” others were ready to lynch them online. Many became the oppressors that they were trying to defeat.
The Israelites were oppressed for