By REV. LUNA DINGAYAN
“If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, pray, seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” — 2 Chronicles 7:14
We live in a very sick society. Our society’s illness is not just skin deep–it has seriously infected the very soul of our nation. Despite all our pious claims to be the only Christian nation in the Far East, we are considered to be the second most corrupt nation in Southeast Asia. Graft and corruption is like a cancer that is eating up the moral fiber of our nation. Indeed, our country has become “the sick man in Asia”.
There is no doubt that God has endowed our country with rich natural resources. But despite government’s reports of a growing economy, our people are sinking deeper and deeper in the quagmire of poverty. There is so much economic uncertainty and political instability in our land. Surely there must be something wrong somewhere else.
But how could we bring about healing to our land? How could we prevent our country from going down to the dogs?
Listening to our political leaders, some of them are saying that we have to change our constitution in order to bring about healing to our land. Others are also saying that we must oust the president. And still others are also saying we have to stage a coup and put up a transitional government. In response, our president declared Martial Law in Mindanao and started a crackdown against those who are accused of working to topple down our government. Indeed, we are all divided on what to do to bring about healing to our land.
Land as God’s blessing
But in the midst of all these conflicts and confusions, there is something that we always tend to forget: that this land of ours is not really a product of our own strength. It is God’s blessing; it is God’s gift for us! God gave us this land. And as such, we are called upon to be its good and responsible stewards. Our society’s illness would only show us how irresponsible we are in our stewardship of the things God has entrusted to our care.
Following Apostle Paul’s reminders, all of us have fallen short of God’s glory (cf.Rom.3:23). All of us are part of our country’s problem. We have contributed one way or the other to our society’s illness either by what we have done or by what we have not done. And since we are part of the problem, we therefore need someone beyond ourselves to really help us bring about healing to our land.
We do believe healing comes from God who created the heavens and the earth. Our Scripture Lesson says, “If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, pray, seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14).
However, there are things we must do in order that God will bring about healing to our land. God is our physician, and like any physician He gives us some prescriptions to follow in order for us to be healed. Let us, therefore, take seriously these conditions for the sake of our country’s healing.
First of all, to bring about healing to our land, we have to humble ourselves before God. Our Scripture Lesson says, “If my people who are called by my name humble themselves”.
We are a people called by God’s name, and we do claim to be a Christian nation. But nevertheless, we must humble ourselves before God. To humble ourselves is to recognize our own limitations, to acknowledge that we are part of the problem, that we don’t have the monopoly of truth, that we cannot really heal our land by our own strength alone. To humble ourselves is never to say that we are “the best president this country can have” as if no one is capable to do the job even better.
To humble ourselves is to have the mind of Christ, “who always had the nature of God, but he did not think that by force he should try to remain equal with God. Instead of this, of his own free will, he gave up all he had, and took the nature of a servant. He became like a human being and appeared in human likeness. He was humble and walked the path of obedience all the way to death – his death on the cross” (Phil.2:5-8).
To humble ourselves is to confess our sins as a nation. We have to confess our lack of moral courage to match our faith with our actions. We have to confess our inability to stand up against the forces of evil in our society. If ever our country is in deep crisis, we have no one to blame other than ourselves. We have to accept the fact that we only get the government that we deserve.
Pray and seek God’s face
Moreover, to bring about healing to our land, we also have to pray and seek God’s face. Again, our Scripture Lesson says, “If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, pray, and seek my face”. To pray is to communicate with God. It is not only asking God what He should do for us; it is also listening to what God would like us to do for Him. To seek God’s face is to discover God’s will and purpose for our lives, for our country. It is putting our own selves under God’s disposal.
To discover God’s will is to analyze carefully the issues our people are confronted with in the light of the Scriptures. According to the Gospel of Matthew, the King in the Final Judgment would say, “Whenever you did this for one of the least important of these followers of mine, you did it for me” (Mt.25:40). God’s face is seen, not in the face of power or in the face of money; it is seen in the face of the least; it is seen in the face of the needy.
Turn from wicked ways
Finally, to bring about healing to our land, we also have to turn from our wicked ways. Again, our Scripture Lesson says, “If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, pray, seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways”. It is not enough for us to just humble ourselves, to pray and seek God’s face. It is also necessary for us to turn from our wicked ways.
Turning from our wicked ways would mean to stop graft and corruption, to stop killing innocent people and prophets of our time, to stop exploiting the poor and the powerless. When tax collectors and soldiers went to John the Baptist and asked him what to do in response to his message of repentance, he responded to them saying, respectively: “Don’t collect more than is legal…Don’t take money from anyone by force or accuse anyone falsely”(Lk.3:1-14).
It is significant to note we are now in the Season of Lent. Last March 6, the whole Christian world celebrated Ash Wednesday. This signaled somehow the start of the Lenten Season. This season is a period in our Christian calendar when we have to do some serious self-examination and repentance for our sins. It is also a period of fasting.
With all the natural and man-made tragedies happening in our country today, perhaps there is a need for us to declare a national day of fasting – the kind of fasting Prophet Isaiah is talking about. According to Prophet Isaiah, God says, “The kind of fasting I want is this: Remove the chains of oppression and the yoke of injustice, and let the oppressed go free” (Isa.58:6).
Humble ourselves before God. Pray and seek God’s face. Turn from our wicked ways. These are the conditions God set before us in order for Him to listen and respond to our prayers, forgive our sins, and heal our land. And so, the healing of our land will depend so much upon our response to these challenges. May God’s Spirit give us the courage and determination to listen and to respond to God’s Word. Amen! # nordis.net