(devotional thought from Christa)
I’ve never cried so hard from hearing an Old Testament story before.
I was driving home from a friend’s house, feeling the weight of the disconnect in our community because of COVID. Even as I type out the date this morning, my mind reels at the length of this trial we’ve been facing this year. What will Thanksgiving look like? How can we safely see our family for the holidays? How many more of our loved ones will we see suffer (from a distance)? How will we make it through this winter?
It all seems a bit insurmountable.
I happened to be listening to the story of King Jehoshaphat on my drive home. King Jehoshaphat (let’s call him King J.) was one of the good kings in the history of God’s people. His story can be found in the Bible, in chapters 17-20 of 2nd Chronicles. King J. desired to follow God, so much so that he traveled to the far reaches of his kingdom to ask the people to stop wasting their love and materials on false gods. He pleaded with them to return to the Lord with all their hearts, worshipping him alone. He encouraged the judges to judge with justice and those who worked in God’s temple to do so in all uprightness and humility.
Some neighboring countries didn’t like what King J. was up to, so they banded together a huge army and started making their way to the land where King J. reigned.
King J. heard about it, and instead of immediately trying to figure out how to muster up his own troops, he turned his heart to God. He asked the people of his kingdom to fast, and he gathered them in the capital city so they could pray together to God.
King J. prayed, “O Lord, God of our ancestors, you alone are the God who is in heaven. You are ruler of all the kingdoms of the earth. You are powerful and mighty; no one can stand against you! […] O our God, won’t you stop them? We are powerless against this mighty army that is about to attack us. We do not know what to do, but we are looking to you for help.” (2 Chron. 20:6,12)
The Lord heard the prayers of King J. and all the people, and he answered through his Spirit: “Do not be afraid! Don’t be discouraged by this mighty army, for the battle is not yours, but God’s. […] You will not even need to fight. Take your positions; then stand still and watch the Lord’s victory. He is with you, O people of Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid or discouraged […], for the Lord is with you!” (2 Chron 10:15,17)
And it was just as God had said. King J. and his people trusted God, singing songs about his goodness all the way to the battlefield. When they arrived at the lookout, they were astonished to see that the huge armies who were coming to attack them were entirely demolished. Not one enemy soldier remained.
The people had humbled themselves before the Lord, and the Lord had fought their battle for them. Completely.
It brought me to tears.
That same God is the God that I love and worship! That same God has the power to go before me in these things that seem impossible and insurmountable, and he is able to have complete victory. He doesn’t promise that it will be easy-peasy every time, but he does promise that he is with us and that he loves us. That’s enough for me.
As you look at the things that seem insurmountable for you in the coming months, resist the urge to immediately “muster up your troops.” Instead, humble yourself and pray with King J., “I am powerless against this mighty army. I do not know what to do, but I am looking to you for help.”
I pray that you will be able to sing songs of praise as you move forward and that you would see the awesome deliverance of the God who loves you. Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord is with you!