The place Dothan is mentioned only twice in the Bible, first in Genesis 37 where Joseph was sold to a caravan of Ishmaelites, and second in 2 Kings 6:13 where Elisha and his servant were surrounded by Syrian army. The events surrounding these two accounts are interesting in that one of them involves the seeming total silence of God and the other involves a fantastic story of miraculous deliverance.
In Genesis 37, Joseph was thrown into the pit by his brothers and was later sold as slave to the Ishmaelites. He was later sold to the household of Potiphar in Egypt. We know the rest of the narrative about how God used Jospeh’s terrible experience to deliver the entire Hebrew race from starvation in the seven years of famine that came afterwards. Where was God when all these were happening? Why didn’t He intervene? How could he be absent when one of His children was suffering?
Fast forward many years later, Elisha became a threat to the Syrian kingdom. On more than two occasions, God foiled the plans of the Syrians against Israel by revealing their battle strategies to Elisha who in turn tells the king of Israel. When the Syrian king made an investigation, it was found out that Elisha was the culprit. That night, the Syrian king sent an army to Dothan to capture Elisha.
On the morning of the siege, Elisha’s servant woke up to a terrifying sight– the whole city of Dothan was surrounded by Syrians. Now here’s the fantastic part: Elisha prayed that the Lord will strike the Syrians with blindness and the miracle was granted. Instead of laying siege the city of Dothan, the army marched on to Samaria where Elisha again prayed for their eyes to be opened. Once the blindness was lifted, the entire Syrian army was horrified to realize that they were in the middle of Samaria and were surrounded by the Israelite army. The tables were now turned but instead of attacking the Syrians, at the suggestion of Elisha, the Israelites gave them a party and sent them home. It was a grand act of mercy that resulted in peace between Syria and Israel.
The story begs the question: why did God save Elisha and not Joseph?
I would like to offer just one answer: Joseph’s story was part of a longer narrative that eventually culminated in the deliverance of an entire nation. His being sold as a slave was part of an elaborate plan to save Israel from future famine. Elisha’s story was, in contrast, a short battle narrative. Both featured the deliverance of God. Both showed that God was actively saving people. One story took place over a period of more than twenty years, the other was an overnight event.
Folks, God is actively working in your life whether you notice it or not. The times when you pray and He seems absent or uninvolved, He is actually there executing some elaborate plans that you could only understand after they happen. Or perhaps you may not even understand until you get to heaven. The point is that His silence doesn’t always mean He doesn’t care. Your painful experiences don’t always mean that God has forsaken you. His delayed answers and the slow unfolding of His plans don’t always mean He is less loving.
If you are reading this and your heart is battered by a continuous surge of trials while God seems silent, be encouraged. God is very much involved in your life. He is doing something. Trust Him.