I didn’t wake up that morning. I had never slept; so I just got up. Weary and a little sweaty from tossing and turning all night, I splashed water on my face and headed downstairs for coffee. I may not have gotten any sleep, but I had finally gotten answers…or so I thought.
Normally I would wait for the coffee to brew, pour myself a cup, pick up my glasses and my Bible and head out to the glider on my back porch. That’s where I meet God most mornings. But this morning I didn’t wait…for the coffee or for God. I knew what I needed to do, what I wanted to do.
But just to be sure, I picked up the phone to call a friend. I would do the wise thing and run my strategy by her before I putting anything into motion. That’s when I noticed that it was only 5 o’clock and, even calculating the two-hour difference in our time zones, I realized my friend might not be ready for me to call.
I wandered aimlessly around the kitchen for a few minutes, restless to handle the situation I had deliberated all night. But if my friend two time zones away wasn’t up and ready for me to call, then it was definitely too early to put my plan into motion here. I’d have to wait. Might as well have that coffee and my quiet time.
I opened my Bible to the scripture designated in my devotional guide and read the story of Jehoshaphat’s encounter with more-than-he-could-handle. It’s a great story. You can read it here if you’d like. And if you’re facing more-than-you-can-handle today, I suggest you do read it.
That morning the Bible’s record of Jehoshaphat’s behavior changed my behavior. You see I had not slept the night before because I was fearful. My anxiety over a turn of events had sent me into full on do-something mode. Like Jehoshaphat I was unsettled and apprehensive because of the actions of others. I felt threatened and insecure. Life felt out of control. And my peace had been interrupted by the enemy invading my space and flinging accusations like fiery darts.
Having wrestled with my anxieties all night, I had awakened ready to pick up my weapons, fire my own missiles (words of accusation and “righteous” indignation) and then run for cover!
But as I read Jehoshaphat’s story there on my back porch glider, I gradually stopped rocking back and forth and sat still before the Lord instead. Just as afraid as I was, if not more so, Jehoshaphat didn’t wrestle with ideas and his blanket all night. He “turned his attention to seek the Lord.” (2 Chronicles 20:3) Instead of garnering his weapons, he gathered prayer warriors. He stood before the Lord and set his eyes on God’s character instead of focusing on his circumstances. He reflected on the Lord’s previous interventions instead of plotting his own course. And he proclaimed his faith in God’s ability to deliver instead of mustering up his own courage.
Finally, Jehoshaphat laid it all on the table in utter desperation and dependence on God:
O our God, will you not execute judgment on them? For we are powerless against this great horde that is coming against us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.”
I had been intent on taking matters into my own hands, but Jehoshaphat had stood humbly before the Lord empty handed…utterly dependent…admittedly clueless. And instead of calculating his response as I had, this wise and godly king had looked to God alone for his marching orders. And he didn’t move a muscle until God had assured him that the impending battle wasn’t Jehoshaphat’s to fight at all, but His. Because the king waited on God, God didn’t send Jehoshaphat “ideas” during a restless night; He sent him a trusted messenger who spoke only truth and assurance and encouragement. And, as so often happened in the battles fought on the pages of God’s Word, God won the victory for His people through the most unusual and unpredictable means. And He alone earned all the glory for the win.
I never made that call to my friend that morning. I didn’t need to. Instead I got down on my knees and confessed my haste to the Lord. I confessed my lack of trust in Him, my stubborn desire to take matters into my own hands and my embarrassing plans to use my own weapons of destruction to fight off my fears. I laid those weapons down that morning and began the constant fight to keep them out of my hands (and mouth). I acknowledged that I was indeed helpless to fight the battle and gave it to God. He whispered to my spirit, “Well thank you very much, Kay. It wasn’t your battle to begin with. But I appreciate you stepping out of the way.” And I began to memorize scriptures that helped me keep my trust in Him alone. (e.g. Psalm 27:14 and Psalm 31:24)
I’ve learned from Jehoshaphat and from experience that the results are much better when I hasten to the Lord instead of rushing to pick up my weapons or even my tools. In the past I would turn to the Lord, but I’d turn to Him in an advisory role. Know what I mean? I’d pray, but I’d spend my prayer time explaining the situation to Him and advising Him on how to handle it. I know. That’s laughable really. And sad, too.
Now I try to take a cue from Jehoshaphat. You might want to, too. The next time you find yourself up against more-than-you-can-handle, commit to this strategy instead of the one you dream up during a sleepless night:
- Acknowledge your emotions. The Bible records that Jehoshaphat felt afraid. Tell God how your situation makes you feel. (2 Chronicles 20:3)
- Immediately begin to seek the Lord. The Hebrew reads, “Jehoshaphat set his face to seek the Lord.” Do what it takes. Get on your knees. Get in your Bible. Get on your walking shoes and go for a walk with just you and the Almighty. But get alone with Him. (2 Chronicles 20:3)
- Fast. There are all sorts of ways to fast before the Lord. You may skip a day’s meals and spend that time praying instead. You may skip one meal, television time or Facebook time. But make your prayer time intentional and focused and above and beyond the normal. (2 Chronicles 20:3)
- Recruit some warriors. Prayer warriors, that is. Ask your husband, a few friends or your entire Bible study group to pray for you as you seek wisdom and direction from the Lord. (2 Chronicles 20:4)
- Praise God. Instead of focusing your prayer time on your circumstances, focus on God’s character. (2 Chronicles 20:5-6)
- Reflect on how God has intervened in your life in the past. Name those blessed times one by one. (2 Chronicles 20:7-9)
- Cling to God’s promises. (2 Chronicles 20:11)
- Ask God to intervene and work on your behalf. (2 Chronicles 20:12)
- Confess your helplessness and lack of knowledge. (2 Chronicles 20:12)
- Commit to trusting God and keeping your eyes on Him. (2 Chronicles 20:12)
- And then wait. And wait. And wait. And wait. Repeating the steps above as many times as you need to, allow God all the time He desires to work with you out of His way. It’s best this way, my friend. It really is.
Dear friend, if you are hurting today it may be that the pain has intensified instead of lessening because you are holding sharp and destructive weapons in your hand (and mouth). I understand. It’s human nature to pick up our weapons when we’ve been wounded. But the Bible teaches us that our real battle is not with the people who have hurt us, but with the spiritual forces that are trying to undo us. Those spiritual forces can only be fought successfully with spiritual weapons such as prayer and faith in God and obedience to His Word. I know it’s scary to put your weapons down when you’ve grown to depend on them. But I encourage you to take a step of faith and put your trust totally in the God who is always at work on your behalf. The battle is His.
This devotional is part of a series called Healing Words. If you’d like to read other words that bring healing to your wounded heart, click on the image below.
If your heart has been wounded and you are struggling to find healing, I’d like to suggest you try my Bible study, Joseph – Keeping a Soft Heart in a Hard Place. You’ll find more information here.