Fear not (there is nothing to fear), for I am with you; do not look around in terror and be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and harden you to difficulties. Yes, I will help you, yes I will hold you up.—Isaiah 41:10
Yesterday, I spoke with a young mom who is facing a devastating situation for which there seems to be no answer.
I have lived long enough to know not to give pat answers to someone in this much pain. To do so is to pour salt into an open wound.
I have no idea what God is doing here and I can’t speak for Him. I will not tell her that I know how she feels because I don’t.
However, all of a sudden, a Bible passage popped into my mind: 2 Chronicles 20.
The Israelites were facing certain annihilation from “a vast multitude.” (v.2)
Their leader, King Jehoshaphat, was understandably terrified. But his first response was not to run and hide. Rather he “set himself (determinedly, as his vital need) to seek the Lord.” (v. 3). He then proclaimed a fast.
But he didn’t stop there. He gathered everyone together to ask for the Lord’s help in prayer. We are told in verse four that the people were “yearning for Him with all their desire.”
Then Scripture records their prayer:
O Lord, God of our fathers, are You not God in heaven? And do You not rule over all the kingdoms of the nations? In Your hand are power and might, so that none is able to withstand You. Did not You, O our God, drive out the inhabitants of this land before Your people Israel, and give it forever to the descendants of Abraham Your friend? They dwelt in it and have built You a sanctuary in it for Your Name, saying, “If evil comes upon us, the sword of judgement or pestilence, or famine, we will stand before this house and before You…and cry to You in our affliction, and You will hear and save….O our God…we have no might to stand against this great company that is coming against us. We do not know what to do but our eyes are upon You. (vv.6-9, 12).
I see a blueprint in these verses for things that we can do when we feel like we have been hit by a tsunami of trouble:
1) Name your “vast multitude.” Be specific. Look it straight in the face. Denial helps nobody. The king did not bury his head in the sand and pretend that none of this was happening. The threat was real and deadly serious.
You may say, “I can’t face this. I am not up to it.”
And you would be right. In ourselves, we are frail as breath, a mist, a vapor.
However, if you know Jesus, that is never true of you. Anything you face comes to Him first. He cushions the blow for you. He declares you to be “more than a conqueror” through Him. (Romans 8:37).
2) Make sure you recognize that your vital need is Jesus Himself…not more money, more time, more resources, etc. It is entirely too easy for us to reach for created things to rescue us, rather than reach out in desperation for our Creator, who will never leave us and is always actively at work on our behalf.
Colossians 1:16-17 is very helpful here: “It was in Him that all things were created, in heaven and on earth, things seen and unseen, whethere thrones, dominions, rulers or authorities; all things were created and exist through Him and in and for Him. And He Himself existed before all things, and in Him all things…are held together.”
There is NO part of your life with which Jesus is not intimately involved. And that includes your “vast multitude.”
As I learned in the life-changing book Jesus + Nothing = Everything: because of Christ’s finished work on the cross, everything I need, I already have in Him! Everything!
Yes…even in those times when a vast multitude comes against me! I may feel as if I have nothing at all, but the absolute fact of the Cross assures me that Jesus has given me everything I need…both now (in the very midst of the mess!) and for all eternity.
3). Do you yearn for Him with all your desire? Or is your desire simply to get out of whatever painful situation you are in?
Really think about that. Do you want Jesus just so that He will release you? (Be honest).
Or are you content with His Presence with you in it, regardless of how long the trouble goes on?
It is normal to want pain removed and Jesus does not begrudge us that. He knows that we are dust. Nobody enjoys pain, nor should we. However, when hard times hit, He is right there with us by the miracle of His Spirit. And He is always enough.
It is during these very times that He becomes real to us, that His Words cease to be just letters on the pages of our Bibles and become life to us! And there is NOTHING on this earth that can compare to that.
At some point on our faith journey through this world, we must come to a point when the fact and overwhelming preciousness of the Presence of Jesus with us must become more real to us than the presence of pain.
May we never get over the miracle that the same Jesus that we read about in the Gospels is the very same Jesus whose Spirit is now joined with ours both in time and for all eternity!
Whatever you are facing, you are not facing it alone.
4). We need to remind ourselves that He rules over everything.
Nothing is unknown to Him. Nothing is too hard for Him to fix. Nothing is impossible with Him. He alone holds our destiny in His all-powerful hands.
The Lord is my Light and my Salvation—whom shall I fear or dread? The Lord is the Refuge and Stronghold of my life—of whom should I be afraid?…Though a host encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; though war rise against me (even then) in this will I be confident.—Ps. 27:1,3
…He does according to His will in the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth, and none can stay His hand or say to Him, ‘What are You doing?’—Daniel 4:35
5). Recall to mind past times when He has graciously rescued you and proved His faithfulness.
We can either choose to rehearse our troubles and our fears or we can choose to rehearse the fact that He has proven Himself to be utterly trustworthy time and time again.
6) When rough times come, make the choice to STAND, no matter what.
As a believer, you have the privilege (and gift!) of planting your feet firmly on the rock solid, never-changing Word of God.
You need not collapse in fear.
The Lord God is my strength (my personal bravery and my invincible army); He makes my feet like hinds feet and will make me to walk (not to stand still in terror but to walk) and make spiritual progress on my high places of trouble, suffering, and responsibility. —Habakkuk 3:19
7) The best thing you can do when you are overwhelmed is to look UP. Decide to keep your focus on your Savior rather than on your circumstances.
Make the king’s prayer in his moment of greatest crisis your own prayer: We don’t know what to do, but our eyes are on You.
He WILL act.
You may not have all the answers (or even any at all), but He knows the answer to every single one of your questions.
Your “vast multitude” has not taken Him by surprise.
8) He will answer your pleas for help. This is what He told the king: The Lord says this to you, “Be not afraid or dismayed at this vast multitude; for the battle is not yours, but God’s…you shall not need to fight this battle; take your positions, stand still, and see the deliverance of the Lord, Who is with you…fear not, nor be dismayed. Tomorrow, go out against them, for the Lord is with you.”
Put your name at the beginning of that verse and then take out the words “vast multitude” and write your trial there instead. Take this word personally. It is meant for you. Read it as often as you need to. Write it on post-it notes and place it everywhere you can.
Then praise Him for what He is going to do in His perfect timing.
Fill your waiting moments with worship instead of worry.
That is exactly what King Jehoshaphat and his fellow Israelites did: Believe in the Lord your God and you shall be established…He appointed singers to sing to the Lord and praise Him…as they went before the army, saying, “Give thanks to the Lord, for His mercy and loving-kindness endure forever!” (vv. 20-21)
As they praised, the Lord caused the approaching army to turn on each other and not one of them remained alive. God took care of that vast multitude in one day. It took them three entire days to gather the spoils.
He is, and will always be, faithful to His own.
9) Expect the miraculous.
Your finite mind simply cannot comprehend the infinite.
Nothing is impossible with Him and everything is possible with Him.
Life with Jesus is always an adventure and He delights to thrill us and take our breath away with His plans.
God is HUGE!
So…if you are facing a vast multitude right now, rest in God’s sovereignty. Let Him fill you with His strength. Live with expectancy. Dare to be joyful. Banish fear and doubt from your mind and your vocabulary.
He’s got this.
God is the Ruler of all.
God answers to no one.
God can accomplish whatever He wants—in all things.
God sees history from beginning to end.
God is afraid of nothing. Ignorant of nothing. Needing nothing.
God always knows what’s best, and He never makes a mistake.
—James MacDonald, Gripped By The Greatness Of God.
Lean on, trust in, and be confident in the Lord with all your heart and mind and do not rely on your own insight and understanding. In all your ways, recognize and acknowledge Him, and He will direct and make straight and plain your paths. —Proverbs 3:5-6