Fear is a debilitating emotion with which we are too often afflicted. Not that there is a lack of devastating events all around us that might justify fear. Some always live in fear, others hardly at all. When it strikes it can paralyze. A section of the book of 2nd Chronicles, chapter 20, gives some encouragement when under such duress.
It is the story of Jehoshaphat, king of Judah, one of the good kings who orders his life and his kingdom after God’s heart. And because he follows his God intensely he is rewarded with peace and wealth. But then some nations gather to the south to wage war with a immense army, and Jehoshaphat felt the fear of panic. But in his case he knew where and to whom to turn. So he prayed.
The closeness of the relationship the king had with his God payed off. Jehoshaphat prayed, reminding the Lord of all the ways God had saved and protected His people since the deliverance from Egypt hundreds of years ago. Reciting examples, he called upon God to show himself again as the protector of His people and their land. “Now behold, the sons of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir, whom You did not let Israel invade when they came out of the land of Egypt (they turned aside from them and did not destroy them), see how they are rewarding us by coming to drive us out from Your possession which You have given us as an inheritance.” 2 Ch 20:10-11
The item I found so interesting is that Jehoshaphat made no pretense of having enough strength in himself or in his army. Nor did he do what many did before him and after him, rent the armies of local allies to fight with him. No, instead he declares, “we are powerless before this great multitude who are coming against us; nor do we know what to do, but our eyes are on You.” (verse 12) The phrase “nor do we know what to do” is particularly telling. He is at a complete loss of ideas, and completely helpless.
It is an ugly feeling, to be so vulnerable you can’t even figure out how to respond to your fear. It can be debilitating, it can paralyze. Fortunately, he knew of the only avenue to which he could turn. “. . . our eyes are on You.” I was reminded of this verse a couple days ago when an ugly situation surprised me at work, a professional relationship conflict about which I was at a complete loss for a response, and was called to confront an associate that had great potential for disaster. The night before it was to unfold I could hardly sleep. I didn’t know what to do. I recalled these verses in 2nd Chronicles and tried to assimilate the mindset of Jehoshaphat, since just as he was confronted with an overwhelming force, so was I. So I prayed just as he did. “I am powerless before this great multitude who is coming against me; and I don’t know what to do, but my eyes are on You. Go before me in Your great strength and power. You fight this battle.”
In the case of Jehoshaphat a prophet arose and told him that the Lord Himself was going to fight this battle, that he didn’t have to do anything but watch. All he had to do was go out to the battlefield and stand by and watch God work. Do you think that gave him some comfort, some relief from his fear? Probably it did give a measure of relief, but maybe not right away, not until he saw for himself the result. And it turned out just as he was told. God caused the immense army to turn on itself and the result was utter self destruction. All the king’s people had to do was pick up the booty that lay all over the battlefield.
With that result in mind, I left my fear in God’s hands and waited to see him act. And indeed it turned out just as I had prayed. The situation was resolved, peace reigned, and I could thank God for His graciousness. The rest of the morning flowed easily into the late afternoon where our Lord surprised me in a department meeting with an award for which I had been secretly nominated by a coworker, and a glowing report was publicly read about some help I had given to another department. Does the Lord put the icing on the cake or what! “You need not fight in this battle; station yourselves, stand and see the salvation of the LORD on your behalf, . . . Do not fear or be dismayed; . . . go out to face them, for the LORD is with you.”
It is great fun when you can read a bit of Scripture and make it alive in your own life! And that’s exactly why it is there. And that is why it is so important to know the Scripture. So that no matter the situation, you can use it to your benefit and God’s glory. For the Lord IS with you!
[Scriptures taken from the New American Standard Bible © 1995]