November 11, 2016
A Joyful Offense
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, NIV).
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They were surrounded, outnumbered. Anyone could see it was only a matter of time.
A “vast army” closed the distance on God’s people. A cloud of dust swirled, kicked up by the boots of a thousand of angry warriors. White with fear, witnesses ran to King Jehoshaphat with warning.
The news no doubt caused parents to pull children closer and whisper about ways of escape. The Bible said even King Jehoshaphat—a warrior himself—was “alarmed.” Even so, rather than rouse his generals and arm his men, Jehoshaphat turned his face to God and prayed.
"'O LORD, God of our fathers, are you not the God who is in heaven? We have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon you.'" (2 Chronicles 20:6, 12)
For years I’ve marveled at Jehoshaphat’s immediate response in crisis. I’m a “get it done” girl. When faced with a problem, I get right to work, try to fix it, resolve it, and make the problem go away. But pray? Sometimes prayer feels too flimsy for a real life crisis.
Jehoshaphat knew otherwise. The best preparation he could make was of the praying kind. Thus, he called men, women and children to circle up. There wasn't much time, but there was time enough to pray. Food was refused and knees were bent, until God spoke. And He did speak:
"Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s … You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you." (vs. 15, 17)
Face a massive army without a single weapon?
Once again, I marvel. Instead of fighting, God commands His king and people to do nothing. To watch the gathering cloud. And to trust.
So that’s exactly what they did. The next morning, King Jehoshaphat and every last Israelite stood their ground in the face of an attacking enemy. Instead of warriors leading the way, a chorus of worshipers lifted their voices in confidence to their God. Joy was the emotion of the day—not revenge, and certainly not fear. In the end, not a single enemy was left standing.
I'm not sure which vast army you face - perhaps a tough marriage, a struggling child, a chronic illness, or an uncertain future. Panic is understandable in the face of impossibility. It’s tempting to roll up our sleeves and try to warrior our way through our circumstances, I know.
But don’t forget: worship is a weapon far more powerful than a thousand warriors. When faced with overwhelming odds, the best defense is joyful offense.
Dear Lord, I often struggle to trust your deliverance when my circumstances appear impossible. Instead, I try to take matters into my own hands, try to control all the details. Instead, give me the courage and strength to stand in worship, even when I want to run. You are worthy. And more than able!
In Jesus’ Name,
Now It’s Your Turn
Today, when an unexpected circumstance takes you by surprise, simply sing. It doesn’t matter the song, but determine to worship God first before you do anything else.
More from the Girlfriends
Be sure to check out Michele Cushatt’s book, Undone: A Story of Making Peace With An Unexpected Life. Join Michele on her quest to make peace with a complicated life. It is an honest confession of a diagnosis of cancer and the joys and disappointments of motherhood and marriage, ripe with regret over what is and, yet, still hopeful for what could be.
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Originally published Friday, 11 November 2016.