Spirit of Grace Ministries
Spirit of Grace Ministries
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Why Sit Here And Die?

By Dennis Pollock


In the Book of 2 Kings, there is a story that has always been fascinating to me. It involves a siege of the capital of northern Israel (Israel was now divided into two kingdoms, northern Israel, which was called Israel, and southern Israel, which was called Judah). The capital city of northern Israel was Samaria, and this city was being besieged by their chief adversary at that time, the Syrians. The siege had been going on for some time, and without any fresh supplies of food, the people of Samaria were on the verge of starvation.


Four lepers were sitting outside the gate of Samaria. Because of their leprosy, they were not supposed to mingle with normal people, so they sat just outside the gate. Perhaps some kind people had been bringing them some scraps of food, but now they were starving. Things became so desperate they knew they had to do something. They said to each other:


"Why are we sitting here until we die? If we say, ‘We will enter the city,’ the famine is in the city, and we shall die there. And if we sit here, we die also. Now therefore, come, let us surrender to the army of the Syrians…" (2 Kings 7:3-4)


These lepers are using a little logic here. They said, "Even if they would let us into the city, those people are starving in there, and we would die. If we stay here, we are starving here and we'll soon die." Neither one of those options has any prospect of a positive outcome. The only strategy that makes any sense to them is to go out and surrender to their enemies, the Syrians. Perhaps they will allow them to live and they could avoid the starvation that was surely coming upon all their fellow Israelites. At any rate, sitting there by the gate was no longer a viable option. Thus, the question: "Why sit here until we die?"


When they arrived at the enemy camp there was an eerie silence. They could not see a single soldier – just tents, horses, and equipment. But no people. As they walked around the camp they were astonished to find that every tent was empty – empty of people that is. But the soldiers had left in such haste that they left all their stuff behind, including food, extra clothes, and even gold and silver. These four Israeli lepers had hit upon the world's largest garage sale, but everything was free for the taking. They ate, they drank, and they collected silver and gold. Finally, after a while, they realized that they might get in trouble if they kept this good news to themselves, and went back to Samaria and told the gatekeepers that the enemy had deserted their camp.


The question that motivated the four lepers to get up and move from their place of starvation has always been fascinating to me – "Why do we sit here until we die?" The reason this strikes me so strongly is that I have been in similar situations a few times. I've had experiences where I felt like those lepers. I've been in places where nothing worked for me, and it seemed as though I was going to have to take some kind of action or employ some sort of strategy, however risky and potentially dangerous because doing nothing was clearly leading me inexorably toward disaster.


What makes these difficult situations puzzling and gives us pause as to whether to stay in position or move out to another place is that we know that faith can produce amazing results. And there are times when God's word to our hearts is to "Stand still and see the salvation of your God." And so we stand and we see God bring about a mighty deliverance. And when this happens we rejoice, our faith grows stronger, and we have a tremendous testimony we can share with others of how God came through for us. So yes, there are times when the best thing we can do in a tough situation is simply to believe God, praise God, and watch for His deliverance. No further steps are necessary, and no strategy is needed.


Faith absolutely matters. Jesus was big on faith, the whole Bible speaks powerfully about the efficacy of faith and prayer – no doubt about it. But the danger about relying solely upon faith is that there will be times in our lives when God expects us not only to believe Him and claim His promises; He also expects us to take some kind of faith step, to take action and mingle that action with our faith.


And sometimes we may be trying to have faith in the wrong outcome. We are asking and believing and claiming something the Lord simply does not want us to have. There are times when all the faith we can muster, all the Bible promises we can quote, and all the positive declarations we can make do not bring about the desired victory and blessing. There may be times in our lives when, like the lepers, if we just sit there claiming promises and waiting for God to move, we will be in serious trouble.


Let me give you an example of this from my own life. When I was a young man and a new believer, I had a strong sense that God was calling me into the ministry. I soon decided that I would need to go to Bible school and moved down to Pensacola, Florida to attend a Bible college, in hopes of becoming a pastor after graduating. Things didn't go very well for me there, financially. I enjoyed the school, but I had little money and was desperately trying to find a job that would cover my expenses and enable me to finish Bible school. I prayed much, claimed promises from the word of God, and did my best to exercise faith for me to have the finances to continue to attend Bible school.


It did not happen. My money continually diminished. I tried refinishing furniture, but soon realized I could not possibly make a living doing that. I went to the unemployment office and constantly checked the job ads, but nothing worked. Eventually, I was forced to live on the most meager meals possible. One man, knowing my situation, felt sorry for me and gave me a large bag of sweet potatoes, and I lived on them for a while. It was apparent that soon I would have nothing at all to eat. Finally, with sadness and disappointment, I made plans to return to Missouri and move in with my parents while I tried to put my life back together.


At that time I had no dynamic word from the Lord about leaving Bible College. It was simply one of those: "Why sit here until we die?" moments when pure logic dictated the necessity of DOING SOMETHING, anything other than sitting there in my poverty and watching my situation go from bad to horrible. I did essentially what those lepers did. I got up and took action, although not willingly or gladly.


Amazingly, once back in Missouri, God began pouring out blessings on my life. I was able to get a teaching position for the next school year, I bought a house out in the country, and within a couple of years, I was leading a small Bible study group which soon grew into a church. I ended up becoming a pastor after all!


Today, as I look back over a lifetime of ministry, I have pastored two churches, been involved in Christian radio and television, done countless evangelistic missions in Africa, India, and the Philippines, and preached in cities all over the world. And with no Bible college degree! It turned out that God wanted to train me Himself. In that first church I pastored, I had many years there with a small congregation that placed very few demands on my time. I was able to devour the Bible, read Christian biographies, and develop my skills as a preacher. It was my own personal, Holy Spirit Bible College.


What I learned from that experience is that, although faith is tremendously important, and although Jesus has told us that we can move mountains through our faith, the mountains that move the easiest are the mountains that God wants to be moved. If you're trying to move a mountain that God has no interest in moving, and shouting for it to be cast into the sea, you're going to have a hard time getting that mountain to budge. While you shout at the mountain and command and quote Scriptures, that mountain will look at you with disdain, and will not move an inch.


Sometimes, when we are in a place of misery or lack or failure, it will not be enough for us to simply have faith. Sometimes we will need to get up, as those lepers did, and move on. Our present circumstances are simply not going to yield the results we desire.


Beyond faith, there is such a thing as the will of God. The Bible says, "If we ask anything according to His will, He hears us." (1 John 5:14), implying that if we ask for things or speak to mountains for results not according to the will of God, He probably will not hear us.


We who have trusted in Jesus as Savior need to learn that Jesus is also our "Good Shepherd." He has very definite plans for us, and He will determine the course of our lives. And there may be times when we are stuck at the end of a "Dead End" street, going nowhere, accomplishing nothing, and producing no spiritual fruit. We may be determined that this is where we must stay; this is where God must use us. But Jesus is softly whispering to our hearts, "Why will you sit here until you die? Get up, move out, and come to the place I will show you." And we will find that He has prepared for us a table of blessings and fruitfulness. Our cup will run over, and as it was with those four lepers, we will find abundance such as we never imagined possible.




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