The Lord will bring hard times on his people, and these hard times are not always because of our waywardness. Our response should always be the same: humble ourselves and pray, seek God’s face as he is always with us, and turn toward God and away from sin…
11 When Solomon had finished the temple of the Lord and the royal palace, and had succeeded in carrying out all he had in mind to do in the temple of the Lord and in his own palace, 12 the Lord appeared to him at night and said:
“I have heard your prayer and have chosen this place for myself as a temple for sacrifices.
13 “When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people, 14 if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land. 15 Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayers offered in this place. 16 I have chosen and consecrated this temple so that my Name may be there forever. My eyes and my heart will always be there.
When the temple was finished, the Lord came to Solomon and declared that he had chosen this place as the temple for sacrifices to himself. God would interact with his people to forgive their sins and receive their worship at the temple in Jerusalem.
And then God went on tho describe what would happen in the future. There are a couple of certainties which spring from the Lord’s words. First, the Lord will bring hard times on his people. Second, the people will sin and pursue wickedness.
We might normally think of the Lord bringing hard times as a result or consequence of the sin of the people. That’s not the order of his words. The Lord will shut up the heavens so that there is no rain. It’s a given that the people will be sinning because we have a sin nature. And yes, the Lord will need to get our attention, yet I think the hard times are not always because of our sin. Our readings in Job teach us this truth. Hard times fall on the righteous and the wicked.
Our response to hard times – our response to God always – should be the same: humble ourselves and pray, seek God’s face as he is always with us, and turn from wickedness. Ask yourself and the Holy Spirit, is there any wicked way in me (Psalm 139:24)? Have I turned to the right or to the left, God?
And turn toward God. Even if you think you are already facing him, turn toward God. More. In humility. Not in self-righteousness. Not in an attitude of it being someone else’s fault. Turn toward God. He will heal your land. He will heal your life.
Sometimes we need to suffer or face challenge for a while before he restores us (1Peter 5:10) and lifts us up. Persevere. Know that his eyes and his heart (vs. 16) are always with us as his people.