One of the most heart breaking news stories this year has been the on-going siege of the city of Aleppo in Syria. Watching the daily distress of people trapped within the ruins of war without access to basic and vital necessities is a reminder of how despicable war is.
Trapdoor grace is the kind of grace that happens when all avenues of relief are blocked. The support systems which we have carefully cultivated spring leaks, the bank account is drained, the Doctor’s and experts don’t have solutions, the job has left the country. When we are under siege literally or spiritually, it is important to know that God has avenues of rescue which open when windows and doors of escape are unavailable.
The weapon of a siege mounted against a community or city is an ancient one. A siege can be mounted in a variety of ways, but always has one common characteristic – the enemy surrounds you. When a place is under a siege, every means of escape appears to be blocked in some fashion. A siege not only blocks the path of escape, but also prevents anything from entering. So, essentially, the community slowly starves to death without food, water, medical supplies and sometimes even means of communication with the external world.
A siege is effective because it eventually causes such despair, that in their desperation, people will even cannibalize themselves. We read about a situation like this in 2 Kings 7. The siege against the King of Israel was ironically mounted by the King of Syria (some translations refer to him as the King of Aram).
As the two sides eyed each other, 2 Kings 6:24-33 tells the story of the King of Israel walking on top of the city wall and a woman calling out to him to tell him the dreadful tale of how she and another woman had agreed to eat their infant sons. Her heart wrenching complaint is that the other woman reneged on her word and hid her son. The King was overcome with horror. He vows to hunt down the Prophet Elisha who somehow becomes the scapegoat for the King’s frustration.
The meeting between the two nemesis is rife with mutual dislike and name calling. But, the Prophet Elisha prophecies to the King that the impossible is about to take place.
Within 24 hours, there will be a turn-around that is so extraordinary that basic foodstuffs will sell at bargain prices!
The prediction is so bizarre that an officer who supports the King physically scoffs and in effect says, ‘that’s madness!’
And it did appear that there was no way out of this certain destruction. But, that night God does something incredible. Because mad situations need to be handled with equivalent or greater levels of mad power.
The Bible indicates that the well equipped Syrian army heard a sound and became convinced that the bankrupt Kingdom of Israel had somehow managed to hire an army and the tables were turned. In their fear, the entire Syrian army fled at night to escape what they were convinced was certain annihilation. The discovery of the situation was discovered by a most improbable lot – some Lepers who were considered untouchable and thereby consigned to the outskirts of the city.
The Lepers had decided to throw themselves on the mercy of the Syrian King and approached the camp, only to find the entire encampment vacated of people! But thoroughly stocked with provisions, clothes and unimaginable wealth in silver and gold. Wow! Of course the good news is shared and the entire city rushed the city gates, trampling on the officer who scoffed at the idea that this kind of deliverance was even possible.
A trapdoor blessing reveals the God who makes impossible situations possible. It also reveals a mercy which is super abundant and awe inspiring. And often utilizes the most improbable persons or situations. It’s never an avenue that you would previously seriously consider. A trapdoor blessing has the ability to turn what appears to be a curse into an uncommon blessing.
Here are some elements of encouragement hidden within trapdoor blessings:
- God can handle our sorrow, despair and anger. Be real. Desperate situations call for a desperate response. Pray and don’t stop. Seek counsel. The Bible says that when waging war, we should have many counselors
- Be open to unexpected solutions. Hidden within those who have been written off and marginalized may be some of the best talent available and hitherto unused due to our prejudices and preconceived ideas.
- Know this – God may not come within our time frame, but He is never late. Examples of deliverance at the mid-night hour abound in the Bible. Think – Daniel in the lions den, Moses saved from the water and certain death by an Egyptian princess, Paul and Silas escaping from prison while singing praises at mid-night, Peter being rescued from prison by an angel…
- Trapdoor blessings are generous! And perhaps we appreciate them more because the contrast is starkly evident when you’ve experienced deep bondage. This type of blessing can be so overwhelming that in receiving it, you must find a way to share it and give it away. Similar to how the Lepers had to let the city know that deliverance was just a few steps outside the gates.
As we leave 2016 and approach 2017, there is a palatable sense of apprehension for many in our world. It has been a strange year in many ways. One filled with loss, unpredictability and dis-ease in various ways. But it is in this type of darkness that light shines most brilliantly. And it is here that Trapdoor grace reveals itself most readily.