I am grieving. I know that many of you are grieving as well. We look around at our world and see that evil is becoming not just accepted but exalted in our society. We see it destroying our families, creating intense pain and hopelessness for those we love, and for some of us it looks so big…so overwhelming that we feel helpless. I want to share with you what God has been speaking to me over these past few weeks as I struggle with these same thoughts.
I was reminded that about nine or so years ago, I was thinking a lot about spiritual warfare. I don’t remember the exact situation I was dealing with at the time, but based on what I remember about that stage of life, I’m certain it was some variation on the themes of depression, hopelessness, and shame. One day while praying, I got the distinct picture of a child standing on a mound of fire ants, trying furiously to stomp them off of her legs and fight them off while her father was right above her waiting to lift her out of the danger and pain she was experiencing. She was so focused on how big the threat and danger was to her in that moment, that she couldn’t see her father waiting to rescue her from the threat. That picture has been helpful to me in times when I am tempted to see the problems of my life, or of my world, as bigger than the great solution of God’s salvation and redemption. So, how do we focus on God’s salvation and redemption when the evils of this world feel so immediately threatening to us? I think we have a clear outline for how to reorient our hearts and shift our focus to the good and beautiful God in 2 Chronicles 20.
The account in 2 Chronicles is one where God allowed the attack of the enemy against the nation of Israel whose leader at the time was a righteous and God fearing man. Sometimes God protects us from being touched by evil in our lives, and sometimes He allows it so that His mighty salvation can be more revealed to us. In this account, the King (Jehoshaphat) responds to the threat of the enemy with prayer and fasting. V.6-9, 12 is a beautiful picture of reorienting the heart from fear to the exultation of God’s salvation.
“O Lord, God of our fathers, are you not the God who is in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms and nations. Power and might are in your hand, and no one can withstand you. O our God, did you not drive out the inhabitants of this land before your people Israel and give it forever to the descendants of Abraham your friend? They have lived in it and have built in it a sanctuary for your Name, saying ‘If calamity comes upon us, whether the sword of judgment, or plague or famine, we will stand in your presence before this temple that bears your Name and will cry out to you in our distress, and you will hear us and save us’…O our God, will you not judge them. For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do but our eyes are on you.”
Later on, in the same chapter (vs. 21) we see a second way that Jehoshaphat responds to threat of evil. Instead of appointing his mightiest warriors to make up the frontlines of the battle, he appoints singers who are to exult the name of God in the face of the enemy instead. God fought the battle for the nation of Israel because His people sought Him through prayer, fasting, and worship. God became the focus of their hearts, not their fears or worries about the problems they were facing.
There’s a song titled “Surrounded” by Michael W. Smith. There aren’t many lyrics at all in the song. It is a statement made over and over about reorienting the heart to remember we are not surrounded by the enemy (which is often how we feel) but, we are (in reality) surrounded by God, and that the worship and exultation of God is our mightiest weapon in spiritual battle. I want to share with you another song that has been a helpful tool in reorienting my heart. It’s a song that is very dear to me and my brother, and it comes straight from Psalm 145. It helps me to exalt God in the midst of any situation or struggle and it shifts my focus from the problem to God’s great solution of salvation and redemption.
Let prayer, fasting, and worship be the weapons we use. Let our hearts be reoriented to see the might of God as unfathomably greater than the troubles of this world…
John 16:33b “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”