by Clarence E. Macartney

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The Prayer of Hezekiah (10 of 13)
Series: The Prayers of the Old Testament
Clarence E. Macartney
Isaiah 38:16

In one of our bookstores, looking for a New Year greeting card, I picked up a card with this wish printed on it: ''May the New Year bring to you nothing but laughter and sunshine.'' I gathered up some of the cards, intending to purchase them; but upon second thought, I left them and chose others. Could I really wish for my friends that the year would bring to them nothing but sunshine and laughter? I felt that I could not, that I ought not to make such a wish, either for myself or for my friends. It takes more than sunshine and laughter to produce strong and useful lives. The cloud and the rainfall must play their part.

A friend who has passed through extraordinary suffering said to me recently, ''Suffering has its compensations.'' What did she mean? She meant that her bodily pains and her near approach to the gates of death had left behind them spiritual deposits of inestimable wealth. It was this same truth that Hezekiah wished to express when he said in his prayer and song, ''By these things men live.''

By what things? The things through which Hezekiah had just been passing. No man wants to die at thirty-nine, or at forty-nine, sixty-nine, or seventy-nine- For whatever crazy sorrow saith, No life that breathes with human breath, Hath ever truly longed for death.

Hezekiah was thirty-nine and ''had everything to live for.'' He had devoted his talents and his energy to the reformation of the religion and morals of Israel. The temple had been repaired and its worship purified. The groves and the images had been cut down and the brazen serpent of Moses, once a means of health and saving, but now become an object of superstitious worship, suffering thus the fate of many religious rites and symbols, he destroyed. In the midst of his reforms and his restoration of the prestige of his kingdom, Jerusalem was threatened by an invasion of Sennacherib ...

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