It is one of the most dramatic stories in the Bible. A young man employed by the prophet Elisha as an assistant (a “servant,” in biblical terms) arises one morning and busies himself with opening up the house and getting on with the day’s tasks. And when he goes outside, he is shocked to discover that the house — and, in fact, the entire city where the prophet lives — is surrounded by a great army that is poised to attack. He immediately thinks of the danger to Elisha and rushes back into the house, yelling, “Oh no, my lord! What shall we do?” (2 Kings 6:15, NIV).
The prophet seems unfazed by the news brought to him by his assistant. He calms the man down and leads him back outside, saying, “Don’t be afraid.” He surveys the situation and calmly says, “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them” (verse 16).
When the prophet realizes that the young man is still terrified by the presence of the armies that might destroy them, the Bible says that he prayed and asked God for a miracle. “And Elisha prayed, ‘Open his eyes, Lord, so that he may see.’ Then the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha” (verse 17).
The miracle that was granted the young man was to see what Elisha saw — the mighty “horses and chariots of fire” that surrounded Elisha, the hidden source of Elisha’s confidence. The protective resources were assembled around Elisha to shield and shelter him. Unseen, yet unassailable. The servant realized why Elisha was unafraid. When that which was unseen was made visible, the young man's perception changed. Hope and optimism returned.
This story has much to teach us. Much of what we do in health care each day is virtually unseen. Think how many people are required for our hospitals to be open every hour of every day, always at the ready to serve our patients and our communities. Think of all the “behind the scenes” activities that go on day after day, helping to ensure that those who have entrusted their health and healing to us are experiencing extraordinary care.
Through God’s grace each day, we can observe the “horses and chariots of fire” of Adventist HealthCare in our physicians, clinicians, and staff. So many individuals and organizations contribute to our success — including our community partners, our boards and committees, and the vendors and contractors who bring life to our supply chain.
There are thousands of people who faithfully and effectively bring their energy and attention to our mission of extending God’s care through the ministry of physical, mental, and spiritual healing. Understanding and appreciating the results of the work of thousands of people each day is truly seeing our own horses and chariots of fire.
I am persuaded that God’s grace and providence surround each of us. His love and grace transform every circumstance. May our prayer be the same prayer that Elisha prayed — that our eyes might be opened so that we might be able to see more clearly the breadth, and length, and depth, and height of God’s protective care.
Terry Forde is CEO of Adventist HealthCare in Gaithersburg, Maryland, United States.