broken rope

1 After this, the Moabites and Ammonites with some of the Meunites came to make war on Jehoshaphat. 2 Some men came and told Jehoshaphat, “A vast army is coming against you from Edom, from the other side of the Sea. It is already in Hazazon Tamar” (that is, En Gedi). 3 Alarmed, Jehoshaphat resolved to inquire of the LORD, and he proclaimed a fast for all Judah. 4 The people of Judah came together to seek help from the LORD; indeed, they came from every town in Judah to seek him. (2Chronicles 20)

Jehoshaphat, who ruled over Judah, had a relatively successful tenure as king because he attempted to hold on to the ways of his ancestor David and demonstrated zeal for the Lord. He had great wealth and honor and seemed to be pretty well in control of his life when this unexpected news rocked his peace. He calculated that he did not have the resources to face the army of this size that was coming against him. From being in a state of control, he was thrust into a state of insecurity and panic.

As we live out our lives, we like to be in control. We like it when we are in good health, have adequate resources to meet our needs and things appear to be going well. Yet it is inevitable that we will face unexpected circumstances that propel us on to a state of uncertainty. A sickness that causes pain, a crisis in our relationships, an uncertainty in our profession, a challenge with our family members, a down-turn in our business endeavors, political instability, natural or other calamities and so on. And interestingly, our possessions or apparent stability in society is no guarantee that these challenges will not arrive. It did come for King Jehoshaphat and it usually will for us as well.

How did King Jehoshaphat respond? In prayer and supplication to the God who could save him! Is that a good response? Often the thought is raised that it is the weak, that need God and when a person turns to God, he is running away from his responsibilities.

To begin with, we should realize that Jehoshaphat was not shy of running away from a battle. In the preceding story, he allied with Ahab (though with adverse consequences) and battled against Ramoth-Gilead. Yet here, he assessed the situation and realized that he would be no match for the huge army that was coming against him. Wise discernment should not be mistaken for weakness. The argument that reliance on God indicates weakness would hold some water if those who advance that argument would demonstrate total control over all situations in their own lives. Inevitably, the converse is true and the ultimate subjugation to death only proves that point. The best of your efforts would fail in many circumstances and you either submit in helplessness or struggle in vain, staring at defeat in the face. It is in such situations that a man who looks to God, rather than demonstrating weakness, in holding on to the hand of the all-powerful God, rises to a higher ground.

The inevitable challenge is met headlong and he finds himself using the wings of faith to rise to a position of strength and success. That’s what Jehoshaphat did and that is what we can do through Christ.

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