2 Kings is an amazing book of the Bible. All the books of the Bible are amazing, of course, but disability keeps showing up in different ways in 2 Kings.
In 2 Kings 6, the Syrian king knows that Elisha is frustrating his plans for military conquest. So he sends an army to surround the little city of Dothan. Amazing things are revealed (I’ll linger over that later, Lord willing).
Then Elisha asked for a very strange thing:
And when the Syrians came down against him, Elisha prayed to the Lord and said, “Please strike this people with blindness.” So he struck them with blindness in accordance with the prayer of Elisha. 2 Kings 6:18
Elisha could have asked for a lot of things – like kill them all, Lord! God had certainly demonstrated that kind of power before. But Elisha didn’t ask for that.
God blinded them, and Elisha led them straight into the stronghold of the King of Israel. The powerful had become the powerless.
Elisha prays again that the Lord would let them regain their sight – and this mighty army can clearly see they are now completely surrounded, helpless just like Elisha had appeared to be when the Syrian army surrounded the city of Dothan.
The King of Israel is very excited at what God has done! The next course of action is clear:
As soon as the king of Israel saw them, he said to Elisha, “My father, shall I strike them down? Shall I strike them down?” 2 Kings 6:21
A great victory has been handed to them! Elisha tells him instead, feed them and send them home. The King wisely follows this advice.
This is another example of God being free to do whatever pleases him. Throughout the Old Testament, the people of Israel are spared in miraculous ways – armies are destroyed or armies are frightened away. And there are times when God uses foreign armies to punish the people of Israel for their sins.
But in this case, God did a ‘monstrous’ thing in striking that entire Syrian army blind, making them completely helpless before their enemies. And then sparing them.
Nobody died that day. On either side. Two hostile armies meet, and the end result is a huge dinner.
And, I imagine, more than one Syrian soldier walked home that day saying exactly what Naaman had said in 2 Kings 5:15b:
Behold, I know that there is no God in all the earth but in Israel. . .
We should be very careful before calling anything God does as ‘monstrous’ or as a ‘curse.’
As one who used to see my son’s disabilities in those terms, I am very grateful for the patience God showed to me in those days. And even more grateful today that he extended grace for me to see the extraordinary gift this boy is who God intentionally created for his glory.