If there ever was a man who understood pressure and stress, it was King Hezekiah. Hezekiah became king of Judah, the Southern Kingdom of Israel, in 715 B. C. His first act as king was to remove the many high places built to worship idols and destroy pagan worship artifacts. Because of his devotion to Yahweh, the Lord blessed him with military victories against the Philistines. Shortly before Hezekiah became king, the Northern Kingdom of Israel had fallen to the Assyrians. They were brutal warriors and ruthless conquerors that carried the people of the Northern Kingdom into exile and slaughtered the ruling class. After the fall of the Northern Kingdom, the Southern Kingdom carried on but their security was always tenuous.
Fourteen years into Hezekiah's reign, Assyria turned its attention toward Judah and according to 2 Kings 18:13, Sennacherib, King of Assyria, seized all of the fortified cities with the intent of also taking Jerusalem. Sieges involved forcing all the inhabitants of a city to remain behind the protection of the city wall. Sieges could last for years, sometimes even a decade. Eventually though, either the city wall was breached, or the inhabitants starved to death from lack of food and water. To surrender was to accept a gruesome death or a demoralizing form of slavery. In the year 701 B. C., Sennacherib attacked the city of Lachish and destroyed it. With the threat of attack on Jerusalem mounting, Hezekiah sought help from Egypt, but any assistance from the Egyptians died when Hezekiah’s envoy was attacked and massacred at Elteqeh.
The trouble with stress is that it often sends us seeking solutions in the wrong direction. And for Hezekiah, seeking assistance from Egypt was asking for failure. In the long run this solution only added stress to the situation, rather than removing it. When we encounter stress in our own lives how often do we seek solutions that don't resolve the problem? We look for solace in entertainment, exercise, possessions and/or food. We think if we relax with a good book, enjoy a bowl of ice cream or join a gym our stress level will decrease. The trouble with these remedies is that although they may be helpful at first, in the long run none of them will relieve the effects of stress in our soul. We are in the same way as Hezekiah turning to worldly solutions for a spiritual problem and like Hezekiah we won't find the answer in those earthly things.
The devastating and brutal destruction of Lachish can still be seen in its ruins today in a layer of soil so thickly soaked with blood it remains red in color. As word reaches Hezekiah of the loss of this massive but key city, an emissary of Sennacherib also arrives to taunt and ridicule the king for seeking help from Egypt. The appearance of these messengers could have added more stress upon the beleaguered king. But this time, Hezekiah turns to the right Source for stress relief- the Lord Himself. In a humble prayer, Hezekiah seeks help from the Lord and his prayer is answered (read 2 Kings 18:13- 19:37; Is. 36 & 37 for the whole story) in a miraculous way (Is. 37:36-38).
Where will you seek relief from stress when you feel it threatening to disrupt your life? Truth be told, stress will always be a factor we will deal with. It can come from any number of sources: family, jobs, unstable times, neighbors, children, and so on. How will you respond to the pressure? Will you seek outside help or will you turn to The Helper? If we learn anything from the life of Hezekiah, it’s that seeking help from the Lord can result in experiencing the unexpected ways He will help to relieve our stress. So where will you turn the next time you encounter stress (Ps. 9:10; 54:4; 56:8-11; 105:1-4; 121:1-8; Is. 55:6; Jn. 14:16-18; Heb. 13:5-6)?
Ann H. LeFevre, M. Div.
https://www.annhlefevre.com; Olivetreeann@mail.com; https://www.linkedin.com/in/annhlefevre; https://www.facebook.com/ann.h.lefevre