When we receive bad news, we can be tempted to fear. We receive a frightening medical report or a notice our job will be ending, and we can feel the icy fingers of fear wrapping around our heart.
In 2 Chronicles, messengers give Jehoshaphat the heart-sinking news of a great army marching against Judah. Though he’s terrified, he does the right thing – he seeks the Lord:
Then Jehoshaphat was afraid and set his face to seek the Lord, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah (3).
His prayer is instructive. First, he acknowledges God’s sovereignty and power:
“O Lord, God of our fathers, are you not God in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. In your hand are power and might, so that none is able to withstand you.” (6)
Then Jehoshaphat recalls God’s past faithfulness and mighty acts:
Did you not, our God, drive out the inhabitants of this land before your people Israel, and give it forever to the descendants of Abraham your friend? (7)
He expresses faith that God hears prayer and is willing to save:
And they have lived in it and have built for you in it a sanctuary for your name, saying, ‘If disaster comes upon us, the sword, judgment, or pestilence, or famine, we will stand before this house and before you—for your name is in this house—and cry out to you in our affliction, and you will hear and save.’ (8, 9)
He cries out for deliverance and confesses Judah’s weakness and total dependence on God:
“O our God, will you not execute judgment on them? For we are powerless against this great horde that is coming against us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.” (12)
God graciously responds with news that we need to hear when our backs are against the wall:
And the Spirit of the Lord came upon Jahaziel the son of Zechariah… And he said, “Listen, all Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem and King Jehoshaphat: Thus says the Lord to you, ‘Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed at this great horde, for the battle is not yours but God’s’ (14-15).
Do not be afraid or dismayed by the circumstances no matter how bleak they look, for the battle is not yours but the Lord’s.
Let us pray like Jehoshaphat when we look at fearful circumstances: Affirm God’s sovereign power, recall his past faithfulness and mercies, especially the cross, express our faith in his promises to hear and act, and cry out to him in our weakness. And then let us remember, no matter what we face, the battle is not ours but the Lord’s.
photo by splorp