Hezekiah was grateful. He wrote a psalm of thanksgiving, ending with, For Sheol does not thank you; death does not praise you; those who go down to the pit do not hope for your faithfulness. The living, the living, he thanks you, as I do this day; the father makes known to the children your faithfulness, Isa 38:18,19.
I wonder how he felt on his fiftieth birthday, twelve years later. I wonder what was running through his mind in year fourteen, and as the fifteenth year dawned, was he still grateful for the extra time God had allowed him, or was he bitter, knowing the end was in sight? If it were the same illness returning, he had to know this was it, even if he was only 54 years old. Did he ruin the time he had left by railing about how badly God had treated him, completely forgetting the gift of fifteen extra years? How would you have acted?
2 Chronicles gives us a lot of information about how he used those fifteen years, some of it not too wisely, in fact. Yet he seems to have finally reverted to his former self—a man who worshipped God and did what was right in leading God’s people. We don’t know, though, how he met his death, whether with a smile of gratitude or a groan of bitterness. I would like to think the former.
Has God given you a reprieve? Sometimes he gives it just as he did Hezekiah, a few more years to live following a major illness or accident, even when the doctors thought it was over. Sometimes the reprieve is about an increasing disability, yet we still function far longer than anyone ever expected.
Sometimes it’s a second chance with our finances—an opportunity to show good stewardship with what the Lord has given us instead of once again running ourselves into the ground with a lack of character and self-control.
Maybe he has given you an opportunity to repair a relationship and enjoy years of fellowship with an old friend or family member. Perhaps, most important of all, he has given you the chance to mend your relationship with Him, to come back from a dalliance with the world and serve him as you ought.
God gives reprieves every day. Some are obvious, others not so much. Look at your life today and instead of seeing a bitter end, see if you can find a second chance you might have missed. Be grateful for the opportunity instead of resenting the new limits you must live with, and the knowledge that the end might be near.
Hezekiah knew exactly how long his reprieve would last. We don’t. Today might be the last occasion you have to tell a friend you’re sorry, the last opportunity to make amends for a wrong done long ago. It might be the last time you get to tell someone you love him. It might be your final chance to return to God.
In all things live like your reprieve is over, for it may very well be.
Therefore the LORD waits to be gracious to you, and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you. For the LORD is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him, Isa 30:18.