To put it mildly, 2020 has been a year filled with turmoil and hardship on so many levels, and the media would have us believe it’s not going to improve anytime soon.
God’s Word provides an antidote to difficult times like this, but I must warn you—it’s counter intuitive and some may even think it’s crazy.
There’s an account of a battle in the Old Testament that demonstrates this antidote well. Jehoshaphat was king over Judah. Judah was no longer the powerful nation it had once been. And now, three nations had invaded Judah with a vast army and were preparing to attack.
Jehoshaphat humbled himself before the Lord and encouraged his citizens to do the same. He prayed to the Lord and admitted, “We have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on You.” (2 Chronicles 20:12)
The Lord responded to King Jehoshaphat and the people of Judah, “Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s. Tomorrow march down against them. You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you… Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the Lord will be with you.” (2 Chronicles 20:15-17)
In faith, believing the Word of the Lord, Jehoshaphat and his army went out against this vast army of three nations coming against them. And in the firm belief that God would fight on their behalf, “Jehoshaphat appointed men to sing to the Lord and to praise him for the splendor of his holiness as they went out at the head of the army, saying: ‘Give thanks to the Lord, for his love endures forever.’” (2 Chronicles 20:21)
“As they began to sing and praise, the Lord set ambushes against the men of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir who were invading Judah, and they were defeated.” (2 Chronicles 20:22) The Lord so confused the invading armies that they turned on each other and destroyed one another. Neither the battle nor the victory belonged to king Jehoshaphat, but to the Lord.
The text indicates that the people of Judah continued to praise and worship the Lord in song thanking Him for a great victory.
Fortunately, we’re not experiencing the threat of invading nations, but the trials and challenges we’re facing are real and troublesome, nonetheless. As I read over the above situation again, I see three things Jehoshaphat and his citizens did that apply to us.
First, they humbled themselves and believed that the Lord would act on their behalf. They fully trusted Him even though the odds were overwhelmingly against them. “For we live by faith, not by sight.” (2 Corinthians 5:7)
Second, they prepared for battle. They showed up and they stood firm. They didn’t just sit at home trembling for fear in a dark corner. They prepared for battle and went out to meet their foes. “Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong.” (1 Corinthians 16:13)
Third, in faith they sang praises to God, “Give thanks to the Lord, for His love endures forever.” “Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.” (Colossians 3:16)
I believe this three-fold response is as appropriate and applicable to us today as it was to the people of Judah back then. And as a result of their obedience, “The fear of God came on all the surrounding kingdoms when they heard how the Lord had fought against the enemies of Israel. And the kingdom of Jehoshaphat was at peace, for his God had given him rest on every side.” (2 Chronicles 20:29-30)
As we enter the New Year, may we also confidently trust the Lord. He is in control. He is mighty to save. And let us prepare for spiritual warfare, in whatever form it takes, and not cower in fear. Finally, let’s sing praises to the Lord and give thanks to Him! For praise and thanksgiving to God is always appropriate. Praise and thanksgiving are always fitting!
“I will give thanks to You, Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all Your wonderful deeds. I will be glad and rejoice in you; I will sing the praises of your name, O Most High.” (Psalm 9:1-2)