Living out our faith in God requires obedience and discernment to His will. This is easier said than done and is why Philippians 2:12 says “to work out your salvation with fear and trembling.”
God has an incredible amount of grace for us in the process, but we have a responsibility to know and obey His Word. His commands give life and are for our benefit.
Discernment must be guided by the truth found in scripture, or else we can be carried away by our passions and preferences.
Life will be harsh and unfair at times and as Christians, we are not immune to these moments. The Bible teaches us how to respond to moments when we are outmatched and overpowered by the circumstances of life. These moments provide an opportunity for God to demonstrate His power and might.
In 2 Chronicles 20, King Jehoshaphat is warned about three invading armies who have positioned themselves for battle. This was a strategic and coordinated attack against the people of Judah. They have not come to negotiate or to discuss peace. They want to see them destroyed.
This news caught the King off-guard and 2 Chronicles 20 says, “he was afraid.” In Hebrew, the word afraid carries a sense of terrified. Fear is a natural response given the circumstances.
To be afraid doesn’t mean we are weak or of little faith. It is an honest emotion after assessing an overwhelming situation.
Have you ever had an experience like this and then felt like an inferior Christian afterward because you were afraid?
The emotion of fear by itself is not a fatal blow to faith.
It’s what you do with that fear that can be.
If fear is continually overwhelming your faith, that’s an indication that it’s time to increase your faith so that you can respond boldly to difficulties.
When you don’t know what to do, pray. When your human responses have little impact on your situation stop and pray.
Know your limits and turn to the limitless One who can do exceedingly and abundantly beyond what you ask for in prayer.
How many battles have we lost, or how many wounds have we suffered because we didn’t know our limits? Just pray!
In the previous chapter, King Jehoshaphat is commended for removing altars dedicated to idols throughout Judah and led the people back to God. He restored Jerusalem to a singular focus and worship of God alone, and then in chapter 20, their faith is tested!
His circumstances were so exceptional that he called on the people of Judah to fast and pray with him. He doesn’t call on allies to join him in a war; he calls on God.
There is no substitute for calling on God.
As the King prays, he summarizes God’s favor in the past and shifts into confidence in God for the present need. Recalling the ways God has come through for you in the past as well as recalling what the Bible says about the deeds of God will boost your confidence in Him.
The size of our circumstances does not change the greatness of our God!
When we humble ourselves and submit to Him, we make room for Him to demonstrate His supremacy over all our circumstances, according to His will.
As people of faith, we are to respond to challenges, initially, with a supernatural approach that begins with prayer.
There is little chance of Judah prevailing or even surviving an attack of this magnitude. As the people unite in prayer, God gives a word of encouragement through the prophet on how to respond to the current threat.
#1 Do not be afraid.
This statement is made 365 times in the Bible. One dose for each day of the year. Any decision based on fear is always the wrong choice.
“…for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” 2 Timothy 1:7
Fearlessness is not recklessness but trust in the Word of God. The same God who parted the Red Sea as the Egyptian army was closing in, will deliver the people from this coordinated attack of three armies.
#2 The battle is not yours, but God’s!
When circumstances are beyond your control, that’s usually an indicator that your battle belongs to God. Keep in mind that He may involve you in the resolution, and His methods will appear counter-intuitive to human logic.
#3 Stand firm.
That word “stand” in the Hebrew means to present yourself. Instead of sending out the military to the front lines, Jehoshaphat sends the worshipers, without sword or shield.
As the worshipers began to sing, God sets an ambush, and the three armies who had come to destroy Judah turn on one another and destroy themselves as God’s people defeat their enemy without a single arrow shot.
We don’t have to be bound by fear or make fear-based decisions because we have faith in a supernatural God who fights for us. Fear is not fatal, but transition your fear into faith by seeking God.
There is no circumstance, no opposition, and no enemy that can contend with the matchless power of God!