The Bible is the story of God’s pursuit of a deep and genuine relationship with us. And at significant points along the story we get these insights into what a relationship with God can be like. Isaiah 38 is one of those places.
In those days Hezekiah became ill and was at the point of death. The prophet Isaiah son of Amoz went to him and said, “This is what the Lord says: Put your house in order, because you are going to die; you will not recover.” Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to the Lord , “Remember, Lord , how I have walked before you faithfully and with wholehearted devotion and have done what is good in your eyes.” And Hezekiah wept bitterly. Then the word of the Lord came to Isaiah: “Go and tell Hezekiah, ‘This is what the Lord , the God of your father David, says: I have heard your prayer and seen your tears; I will add fifteen years to your life. Isaiah 38:1-5
In an effort to lovingly let King Hezekiah know that he is about to die God tells him to get his house in order; his “time has come” so to speak. Hezekiah isn’t ready and reminds God of the way he has lived for God. In response to his desire to live for a while longer God gives him fifteen more years.
What a fantastic image! God announcing the plan and his child is so saddened by it that he is described as weeping bitterly. It’s not a tantrum, or a pouting kind of thing. It’s just sorrow. This plan of God’s breaks Hezekiah’s heart. He isn’t ready for it. And he let’s God know.
I don’t believe this means that we can always bargain with God or always get more out of him than what he offers. I don’t think it gives us license to believe that we can always get what we want. But for me it shows the beauty of what a relationship with God really is: give and take.
Even with the Creator of the Universe, who by his very words brought forth everything into existence! He listens when we talk. He cares about what we think of his plans for us. He is open to hearing us out and responding. It’s a real relationship.
God says, “This is what I’m going to do.” And Hezekiah says, “Please not that. I don’t like that. It breaks my heart to think of that happening.”
Now sometimes, actually many times in the Bible, God sticks to his plan and says, “I’m sorry you don’t like it, but this is what has to be. It’s best.” But in this case he responds to Hezekiah and gives more. Why? Because he loves Hezekiah. Because they are in relationship with one another and so sometimes God decides to give someone more time. Just because they need it, just because they aren’t ready, just because that’s what love does.
How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! 1 John 3:1
We can’t expect God to always give us what we want, but I think we can expect him to always listen. And always care. And we can know that sometimes, out of love, God will give us what we long for. And sometimes out of love, God will not.
With God, it’s all about relationship.