by Afton Rorvik
I like order. I like lists. I like knowing what tomorrow holds.
Many years ago when the company I worked for merged with another company, I flailed. My position was being threatened by the powers that be. I knew this job, these people. I worked minutes from my house. There was a lot to lose. But more than anything, I hated sitting and waiting for someone else to make decisions about my life.
During that time, I discovered an Old Testament passage that has since become my go-to story when life throws me a challenge beyond my control. This account, found in 2 Chronicles 20, features Jehoshaphat, king of Judah. He received news that a huge army was about to attack his kingdom. When Jehoshaphat heard the news, he was alarmed. Who doesn’t feel alarmed when unexpected situations come flying at you?
Jehoshaphat, however, did not wallow in panic or fear. And he did not start drawing up a battle plan or gathering troops. Instead, he gathered the people together to fast and pray. His subjects came from all over Judah to jointly pray and seek the Lord’s help.
Jehoshaphat stood among them and said: “Lord, the God of our ancestors, are you not the God who is in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. Power and might are in your hand, and no one can withstand you.” (2 Chronicles 20: 6, NIV) He went on to recite all of the ways God had proved Himself faithful in the past to His people. He ended the prayer by pleading, “For 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.” (2 Chronicles 20:12 NIV, emphasis added)
God responded to their cry. He spoke through a prophet right then and there, and gave reassurance to the people. The prophet told them “Thus says the Lord to you, ‘Do not fear or be dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours but Gods’.” (2 Chronicles 20:15 NASB)
Jehoshaphat bowed down with his face to the ground, and all the people of Judah and Jerusalem fell down in worship before the Lord as well.
So . . . a vast army lurked. And Jehoshaphat did something seemingly illogical and impractical. He worshiped.
Let’s be honest, most of us don’t fight life-threatening battles with worship. My knee-jerk response to the unexpected usually involves crawling into myself and focusing on private prayer that goes along the lines of “God, please fix this!”
I need to follow the example of Jehoshaphat in spending time reminding myself of God’s steadfast, powerful, and never-changing character as well as remember the weakness and ineffectiveness of any human effort. And be drawn not into despair but rather into worship.
Worship might take the form of fasting or congregational singing; or it might look like a woman sitting alone in a comfortable living room chair thanking God every morning that He sees, He cares, and He is at work in situations far beyond my control.
I did eventually lose that fabulous job and went on to face a lot of other life challenges. And I’m sure I have many more such challenges ahead of me.
And that is why I return again and again to the story of Jehoshaphat. It pulls me back to worship and helps me make Jehoshaphat’s words my own: “We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.” (2 Chronicles 20: 12 NIV)
About the author: Part of the publishing industry since 1987, Afton Rorvik enjoys her roles as wife, mother, friend, editor, and writer. She loves shaping words, reading books by contemplative authors, listening to music, drinking coffee with friends, traveling, and savoring the words in her favorite book—the Bible. In 2014 Afton published Storm Sisters, a story-filled book on how to be present when storms hit a friend’s life. You can learn more about Afton and her ministry on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.
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Join the conversation: What unexpected situation have you faced that might have been helped by Jehoshaphat’s story?