I often find myself bending low towards our sons during worship on Sunday mornings. Sometimes I am answering pretty provocative questions for little minds. Often times though, I am reminding them of our favorite family motto, “keep your body to yourself”.
However, a few weeks ago in the middle of a song set, our oldest tugged me close to whisper “Mom, I can’t believe some people would kill themselves just because they don’t think they can win the battle.” Woah! Talk about needing another cup of coffee. After I asked some clarifying questions, he replied with something about wars and how people don’t realize that God has already won His battle.
Needless to say, I watched him run off to kids’ class a little dumbfounded. I had no idea what Pastor Tim was about to preach in his sermon - a sermon that included stories of young people taking their own lives in Alaska, the absolute reality of the battles we find ourselves fighting here on earth, and ultimately the hope and restoration found in Christ alone. In and of itself, this would have been a moving Sunday morning for me. But when the kids bounded back into church during the end of our last song which happened to be “Surrounded”, let’s just say that though I can be a bit dense, I did start to pick up on a theme.
A few days later I was reading 2 Chronicles 20 which describes how King Jehoshaphat handled a specific battle. Verse 2 states, “Some people came and told Jehoshaphat ‘A vast army is coming against you from Edom…’”. It goes on to say that this news “alarmed” Jehoshaphat and that Jehoshaphat resolved to inquire of the Lord.
Jehoshaphat declared a fast for all of Judah and people came from every town to seek the Lord. Jehoshaphat then stood up in front of everyone (including women, babies and children) and provided one of the most powerfully honest prayers I have read in all of Scripture. I highly recommend taking time to sit with this whole prayer found in 2 Chronicles 20:5-12, but for now I will just share the last two sentences:
“…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.” (Verse 20:12)
How often I have felt this prayer in my gut, and yet how rarely have I actually allowed it to make its way to the surface. Perhaps you can relate. The fear of the battle can sometimes limit us more than the battle itself. And the Lord in his sweetness provided Jehoshaphat with a prophet, Jahaziel, who said,
“This is what the Lord says to you: ‘Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s.’” (verse 15)
'You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions: stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you, Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid: Do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the Lord will be with you.' (verse 17)
I don’t know what specific battle you may be facing right now, but I believe there is encouragement in this passage for each and every one of us. Though we do not have to fight this battle, we are called to take some actions: to take up our positions, to stand firm, to stay encouraged, and to go out. For the Lord is with us. And despite our feelings, the battle is won.
I am taking some liberty with the end of chapter 20, but it goes something like this (spoiler alert, God wins):
As God’s people began to sing and praise, their enemies were destroyed. There were more items of value left behind than they could even carry back home with them. They again gathered to praise the Lord. The men all joyfully returned to Jerusalem. The fear of God came on all the surrounding towns. And the kingdom was at peace. For God gave Jehoshaphat rest on every side.
May you find rest this week, dear friends. Not because there are no battles, but because you know who is fighting yours.