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“Be strong,”I heard Jesus whisper to my anxious heart. “Continue the work I’ve called you to.”I had come up against some pretty significant resistance, some stuff that had the potential to thwart all I had been working toward for three years, and for whatever reason, it had hit me hard.
“I am with you,”Jesus continued. “Do not be afraid. Do not allow your circumstances to derail My plan for your life. Press in and press on….”
“But Lord,”I prayed in desperation, “What if the enemy succeeds? What if I’m overcome by the opposition? What if I go down?”
“I’ve prepared you for this,”He whispered. “Be bold as a lion. Do not give up!”
“But what if I’ve gotten it all wrong?”I wondered. “What if I’m wrong?”
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I felt like I was on the verge of a faith crisis. Like at any moment, my faith would fail me, and I’d be overtaken. But it wasn’t the opposition of the Lord’s work that had brought me to such a place––the opposition was simply the wind that propelled me into the storm. The catalyst, if you will, that launched me into a greater spiritual battle. A battle stronger than any I had ever encountered.
I brought my questions before both God and His people to be sure that I wasn’t being deceived in any way. I prayed continually. I searched the scriptures. I sought council from godly people with sound doctrine. And the response was the same––you are right where God wants you to be.But that didn’t stop the what-ifs from running a continuous loop in my mind, like a toxic playlist on repeat.
I was gripped by fear, but I had been studying 2 Chronicles 20 for several months by this time, and so I knew that I was not alone in my fear. God’s people have struggled with fear throughout the ages. All throughout scripture, we hear God tell His people “do not fear,”in the face of great opposition or circumstances beyond their control, and the story found in 2 Chronicles 20 is no exception.
Several nations had joined together, in this particular story, to oppose King Jehoshaphat and the nation of Judah. These were God’s people who were being opposed. Jehoshaphat was a godly king who “walked in the early ways of his father David,”unlike many of the other kings of Israel and Judah (2 Chronicles 17:3). Jehoshaphat had God’s favor upon him. He knew God. He walked in His ways. But even so, we’re told in 2 Chronicles 20:3 that “Jehoshaphat was afraid”when he heard of the “great multitude”coming against him.
Jehoshaphat was afraid, as are both you and I from time to time, but the thing that is so incredible about this story is Jehoshaphat’s response to his fear––a response that I desperately wanted to emulate. This scripture tells us that the moment Jehoshaphat was struck with fear, he “set his face to seek the Lord, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah” (20:3). He didn’t sit with his fear for a while, he didn’t ponder in his heart what he ought to do, and he certainly did not lose his head over the whole ordeal, but instead, Jehoshaphat brought his fear to God.
We catch a glimpse of what that looked like as we continue to read. As mentioned before, Jehoshaphat proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah. He cried out to God, remembering and recounting all God had done throughout the history of Israel up to that point. He petitioned his Lord and Savior to come––to route his enemies. He remembered what the descendants of Abraham had vowed long ago when they said, “If disaster comes upon us, the sword, judgment, or pestilence, or famine, we will stand before this house and before You—for Your name is in this house—and cry out to You in our affliction, and You will hear and save”(20:9). And Jehoshaphat ended his plea by saying, “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” (20:12).
We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on You. Those words resounded in my heart and mind over and over again as I re-read this story. I gotta keep my eyes on Jesus, I thought. Like Jehoshaphat, I knew I was powerless against that which opposed me.
The Lord answered Jehoshaphat, saying, “Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed at this great horde, for the battle is not yours but God’s…. ”and I felt God whisper the very same thing to my heart (20:15). In the story, God’s people were called to “go down against”their enemies the next day, but the Lord said, “You will not need to fight in this battle. Stand firm, hold your position, and see the salvation of the Lord on your behalf…” (20:16a, 17a).
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God promised to fight for Jehoshaphat and the people of Judah, but He called them to stand firm in their faith, and He was calling me to do the same. Now, you better believe that it took some serious faith for those people to go down against their enemies the next morning, but they did. Early that next morning, as Jehoshaphat assembled his army, “he appointed those who were to sing to the Lord and praise Him in holy attire, as they went before the army” (20:21). He placed a worship band before his army, and scripture tells us that “when they began to sing and praise, the Lord set an ambush against the men of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir, who had come against Judah, so that they were routed” (20:22).
God had fought this battle for them. All that opposed them was destroyed as they stood firm in their faith––and as I read this account in the midst of my storm, I was given all that I needed to endure. Through this story, God was telling me to keep my eyes on Him, to seek Him, to remember who He is and what He has done, to remember His faithfulness, to stand firm in my faith, and to combat my fear with both faith and worship. And when I did, I too watched the Lord fight and win my battle before my very eyes.
And all the what-ifs had suddenly grown silent as I realigned my thoughts and feelings with God’s truths.
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Laurie Coombs is a passionate writer and speaker on the issues of forgiveness, redemption, and the blessings associated with following Jesus. Her story will be featured in Billy Graham's new film, "Heaven," (November 2014) part of the "My Hope with Billy Graham" series broadcast nationally in an effort to reach people with the message of the gospel. She is a featured writer and blogger for iBelieve.com and Crosswalk.com and is currently working on first book, Letters from My Father’s Murderer: A journey of forgiveness (Kregel Publications, Spring 2015). Laurie and her husband, Travis, make their home in Reno, Nevada along with their two daughters, Ella and Avery.
For more information about Laurie or to book her for a speaking engagement, please visit her blog, LaurieCoombs.org. And be sure to connect with her on her blog, Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest.