When we're stuck between a rock and a hard place, we must always choose to trust the Rock and not the hard place we're presently stuck in. Our vision of Christ must be deeper and more focused than our view of the problem at hand.
When I was a freshman in high school, I remember seeing my first fistfight. While those around me cheered and egged the people on, I silently cried, trying to avoid the tears from being seen as they rolled down my face. Between laughter, yells, and jeers, my mind spun as I tried to block out what was happening. And even though I wasn't in the fight myself, my heart broke into many pieces that day.
From that day forward, I learned two things about myself: 1) I hated seeing fights and didn't think they were funny, and 2) I knew that if I were ever in a physical fight, I'd run the other way in a heartbeat. While I don't believe God wants us to fight physically with each other, I do believe that when we're in the thick of chaos, He calls us to fight our battles well.
So, let me ask you one question: Are you ready to wage war?
In Isaiah 37, Jerusalem is at its wit's end, and King Hezekiah has about lost it. Following chapter 36, Hezekiah was not only facing a nation that had turned away from God, but he now also faced the threats of a strong and powerful Assyrian king (Sennacherib). With no strength left to fight, Hezekiah did six things that I believe we should all do when facing a war we don't know how to wage:
1. Hezekiah fought his battles on his knees.
When Hezekiah heard the threats of King Sennacherib, his initial response was not to run and tell his friends or complain, but to take those matters to the Throne Room of the King of Kings. Scripture tells us in verses 1-4 that when Hezekiah was made aware of the threatening remarks, he immediately went to the Temple of the Lord:
"When King Hezekiah heard this, he tore his clothes and put on sackcloth and went into the temple of the Lord. He sent Eliakim the palace administrator, Shebna the secretary, and the leading priests, all wearing sackcloth, to the prophet Isaiah son of Amoz. They told him, “This is what Hezekiah says: This day is a day of distress and rebuke and disgrace, as when children come to the moment of birth and there is no strength to deliver them. It may be that the Lord your God will hear the words of the field commander, whom his master, the king of Assyria, has sent to ridicule the living God, and that he will rebuke him for the words the Lord your God has heard. Therefore pray for the remnant that still survives" (Isaiah 37:1-3, NIV).
The next time you're hit with the words of the enemy, don't delay in telling the Lord; bring it to Him instantly. Let your knees hit the floor as your voice goes through the ceiling. As soon as you're faced with opposition, take it to the One who longs to hear your voice. Don't be ashamed or try to fight these battles on your own.
2. Hezekiah fought his battles with trusted friends.
Especially when going through challenging spiritual times, the enemy is great at convincing us that we might as well fight alone. In fogs of shame and distortion, we start to believe that maybe he's right; surely we're the only ones facing this battle.
While it's tempting to believe those words, don't listen to them. You are never alone, and you certainly aren't the only one to deal with __________ problem. Instead of allowing the enemy to feed you lies, learn a lesson from Hezekiah.
After taking his problems to the Lord first, Hezekiah then sought the comfort of trustworthy friends (those who delivered the message to him in the first place) to help him pray:
"It may be that the Lord your God will hear the words of the field commander, whom his master, the king of Assyria, has sent to ridicule the living God, and that he will rebuke him for the words the Lord your God has heard. Therefore pray for the remnant that still survives" (Isaiah 37:4, NIV).
It is crucial that we, too, in times of trouble, confide in trusted sources and ask those individuals for prayer and support today. While I am not suggesting that you share your heartaches with everyone, the comfort and support from those who love the Lord and have your best interests at heart are to be there to hold you up in times of need. It is not gossip to ask others for prayer. It can simply be "bearing one another's burdens so that you may be healed" (Galatians 6:2, ESV).
3. Hezekiah fought his battles by allowing the Lord to fight for him.
I wish I could say that every time calamity strikes I pray, trust the Lord, and let go. As a control freak, this is a challenge for me. When we're stuck between a rock and a hard place, we must always choose to trust the Rock and not the hard place we're presently stuck in. Our vision of Christ must be deeper and more focused than our view of the problem at hand.
As a result of Hezekiah's faithfulness and the Lord's will, God would deliver Jerusalem from the hands of Sennacherib. He heard Hezekiah's prayer and answered:
"When King Hezekiah’s officials came to Isaiah, Isaiah said to them, “Tell your master, ‘This is what the Lord says: Do not be afraid of what you have heard—those words with which the underlings of the king of Assyria have blasphemed me. Listen! When he hears a certain report, I will make him want to return to his own country, and there I will have him cut down with the sword.' When the field commander heard that the king of Assyria had left Lachish, he withdrew and found the king fighting against Libnah"(Isaiah 37:5-8, NIV).
Even when odds are stacked against us, and we don't hear God, know that He heard, hears, and is answering your prayer (even if He answers it with "no"). The Lord fights for us, and He can overpower and manipulate the mind of any enemy He desires.
4. Hezekiah fought his battles by knowing the enemy would still roar.
As much as battles suck to go through, perhaps the worst part is when we're still walking through them. Especially when it is difficult to see the light of day or our situation improving, we must know the enemy will still roar, but our God roars even louder:
Now Sennacherib received a report that Tirhakah, the king of Cush, was marching out to fight against him. When he heard it, he sent messengers to Hezekiah with this word: “Say to Hezekiah king of Judah: Do not let the god you depend on deceive you when he says, ‘Jerusalem will not be given into the hands of the king of Assyria.’ Surely you have heard what the kings of Assyria have done to all the countries, destroying them completely. And will you be delivered? Did the gods of the nations that were destroyed by my predecessors deliver them—the gods of Gozan, Harran, Rezeph and the people of Eden who were in Tel Assar? Where is the king of Hamath or the king of Arpad? Where are the kings of Lair, Sepharvaim, Hena and Ivvah" (Isaiah 37:9-13, NIV)?
For Hezekiah, the enemy still roared against the prophecy given by Isaiah from God, but Psalm 46:1-2 of the NIV reminds us that with God, we have nothing to fear.
"God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear" (Psalm 46:1-2, NIV). Hezekiah rested in this promise, and so should we.
Our enemies roar louder in the face of opposition, but that's because they know they are about to be defeated by the One who triumphs louder than them.
5. Hezekiah fought his battles by trusting the promises amid his circumstances.
If God answered our prayers and we saw them delivered the second we prayed, I think we would pray a lot less and treat God like a vending machine a lot more. God's timing is not our own, and we must learn to trust His sovereignty.
In the same manner, just because we pray, trust God, and have others fight our battles with us, that doesn't mean that the battle will cease the moment we snap our fingers. Even still, we're called to trust and believe what the Lord has promised, knowing that not even a word from His lips will ever return void.
In the face of the enemy, Hezekiah again presented his thoughts, feelings, and circumstances to the Lord by trusting Him. And even when his circumstances didn't appear to change, he believed what was prophesied:
"Hezekiah received the letter from the messengers and read it. Then he went up to the temple of the Lord and spread it out before the Lord. And Hezekiah prayed to the Lord: “Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, enthroned between the cherubim, you alone are God over all the kingdoms of the earth. You have made heaven and earth. Give ear, Lord, and hear; open your eyes, Lord, and see; listen to all the words Sennacherib has sent to ridicule the living God. “It is true, Lord, that the Assyrian kings have laid waste all these peoples and their lands. They have thrown their gods into the fire and destroyed them, for they were not gods but only wood and stone, fashioned by human hands. Now, Lord our God, deliver us from his hand, so that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you, Lord, are the only God" (Isaiah 37:14-20, NIV).
As our enemies grow louder, we must press into the power of praise and prayer. We declare that God is over any enemy, problem, or circumstance we face, but we trust His outcome no matter what it looks like. In surrender, we ask Him to see our situation and deliver us. But ultimately, we ask Him to have His way, not solely because we long to be rescued, but because through His work in us, others may come to know Him.
6. Hezekiah fought his battles by challenging himself to believe.
In our most challenging and vulnerable battles, we're often the weakest to fight. For Hezekiah, he felt overwhelmed, shattered, and defeated. But even from this place of brokenness, Hezekiah cried out to the Lord, and again, the Lord replied. Not only did God hear, but He prophesied Sennacherib's fall with a challenge to believe (Isaiah 37:21-38, NIV).
And sometimes, God may also challenge us to believe.
God would kill Sennacherib, but Hezekiah would have to wait for His (God's) timing and plan. Today, God not only promises deliverance but rebukes the enemy. He says to our enemies, "I know who you are, where you stay when you come and go and rage, but I will make you return from where you came," and no word of the Lord ever returns in vain (Isaiah 37:28-29, NIV).
Not only did God give Hezekiah a promise of these things, but He also did what He said He do, and He always does. I'm believing He does the same for you and me today, and that's how I fight my battles.
Won't you join me?
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Amber Ginter is a teacher, author, blogger, and mental health activist who resides in the beautiful mountains and cornfields of Ohio. She loves Jesus, granola, singing, reading, dancing, running, her husband Ben, and participating in all things active. She’s currently enrolled in the Author Conservatory Program and plans to pitch her book: Mental Health and the Modern Day Church for Young Adults, soon. Visit her website at amberginter.com.
The views and opinions expressed in this podcast are those of the speakers and do not necessarily reflect the views or positions of Salem Web Network and Salem Media Group.
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