Have you ever been given bad news? Do you remember how it felt to hear the words and then process them in your mind? In my life I have experienced situations where the news being given to me rocked me to my core. It was in these situations where I had to choose where my faith was going to stand. Would it stand with the news or with GOD and His Word? Many of those times, I wavered in my faith and the grief and fear eclipsed all of my faith. It was in these moments of great pain that GOD reminded me of His promises and His Goodness and showed me that I would not be walking through this situation alone. From traumatic injuries to unexplained deaths, GOD has shown Himself true and I wouldn’t be writing this to you without the amazing grace that stems from our incredible GOD.
In 2 Chronicles 20:1-30, King Jehoshaphat of Judah heard some news that made him terribly afraid. His Kingdom was being invaded not by one army, but three different armies that had banded together to destroy his Kingdom. When news finally reached Jehoshaphat that Judah was being invaded, the enemy was practically on his doorstep. Jehoshaphat was completely blindsided and utterly afraid, but what he did in his fear led to his greatest victory. I believe that his example can give us hope and direction even when the situation looks bigger than we are:
1. Commit yourself to GOD
Then Jehoshaphat was afraid and set himself [determinedly, as his vital need] to seek the Lord; and he proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah. 2 Chronicles 20:3 AMP
When Jehoshaphat heard the report of enemy invaders he feared for his country and his own life, but he didn’t linger in his fear. He immediately “set himself to seek the Lord.” He turned to GOD instantly for guidance and help and told the entire country of Judah to do the same. Jehoshaphat knew that his army could not defeat the three armies that had invaded their land. He realized at once that this battle was lost before it ever started, but he also knew that GOD had promised Judah this land and GOD keeps His promises. Jehoshaphat committed himself and the situation to GOD. In verse 12 Jehoshaphat says, “ We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon You.”
2. Take your positions
You need not fight in this battle; take your positions, stand and witness the salvation of the Lord who is with you, O Judah and Jerusalem. Do not fear or be dismayed; tomorrow go out against them, for the Lord is with you. 2 Chronicles 20:17 AMP
Take your positions. Three simple words, one simple command. In our greatest moments of fear and conflict GOD is looking to us to take our positions. Jehoshaphat and his army knew emphatically that they could not win this war, but they also trusted in GOD to deliver them from their enemies. With that confidence, they took their positions to fight in what seemed to be a one sided conflict. It was in standing their ground, taking their positions, and preparing for war that King Jehoshaphat and his army strengthened their faith. When they put on their armor and marched to the battlefield it was their way of showing GOD that no matter what comes against them, their trust is in Him.
When they began singing and praising, the Lord set ambushes against the sons of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir, who had come against Judah; so they were struck down [in defeat]. 2 Chronicles 20:22 AMP
Swords and shields would not be the weapon of choice for Judah and King Jehoshaphat. Their natural ability wasn’t strong enough to defeat three powerful armies allied as one. No, the weapon of choice for Judah was worship and their worship triggered the victory. Verse 22 says, “When they began singing” that is when GOD went to work. The enemy was defeated from self inflicted wounds, but the real defeat came in the praises of GOD’s people. Worshiping GOD in their armor, swords in hand, shield held tightly to their chest, Judah and King Jehoshaphat were mightier then all the armies of the Earth combined because GOD fought their battle and the battle was fought in worship.
Whatever you are facing doesn’t have to end in defeat. Bad news may cause you to fear, but GOD is ready to fight for you. When trials and battles arise commit yourself to GOD and His promises. Seek Him and look for direction through prayer and His word. Find out what the Bible says about your situation and then take your position. Suit up in your armor, take your sword and shield and walk right onto the battlefield with confidence knowing the battle is GOD’s Finally, when its time to fight, drop your sword and lift your hands. Worship GOD in the midst of your battle. Prove to GOD and the enemy that no matter what the outcome, worship will be the only sound coming out your mouth.
“For I am the least of the apostles, who am not worthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.”
I Corinthians 15:9-10 NKJV
If anybody knew what it was like to be defined by past mistakes and hurts, it was Paul the Apostle. The writer of two-thirds of the New Testament, Paul spent the majority of his early life trying to destroy the Christian faith. He presided over the murder of Stephen, the first Christian martyr, and the beginning of great persecution of Christians in Jerusalem. He also hunted down Christian men and woman and had them put into prison. Talk about overcoming some difficult past mistakes. Even the early church was skeptical about Paul’s conversion to Christianity. Paul even defended himself and his past in many of his letters to the early church. I’m sure his past was a constant question among many Christians and non-Christians alike. But what I think makes Paul’s story so unique was his ability to put his past behind him and to look forward in Christ. As Christians, we have such a difficult time putting our past mistakes behind us. We let the things we did before we knew Christ or even the mistakes we made as Christians, define who we are today. Paul went so far to say, “I am what I am” because of the grace of GOD. Paul wasn’t denying that he had persecuted the church. On the contrary, he used his past to propel him closer to Christ and deeper into the destiny GOD had for him. Everything that Paul had done in the past led him to his intimate encounter with Jesus and at that exact moment the past that defined him became the future that redefined him. GOD needed Paul. All of Paul. His past mistakes, hurts, and shame because GOD knew that Paul could use his past to redefine his future. “I am what I am” not only encompassed who Paul had become as a leader in the Christian faith, but it included everything in his past.
You are who you are for a reason. You have a past just like Paul did. Maybe you didn’t murder Christians, but I am 100% positive that you have something in your past that still defines you. Others might not see it. Your spouse or your friends might not even know about it, but you do and so does GOD and He still wants you. You have certain talents and abilities for a reason. You like certain music and connect with people on different levels for a reason. You are who you are because GOD created you uniquely for a unique purpose. GOD put you on this planet at a specific time in history for something that is beyond anything you have done in your past or mistakes in the future. You have been made for this exact moment in time. The enemy would like nothing more than to hold you captive to everything you have done in the past so you don’t reach the potential GOD has for you in the future. Its those moments when you are lying awake in bed at night that the enemy reminds you of your past mistakes, hurts, and sins. Like a snake, he leans in and whispers in hopes that you will continue to live in a self built prison and never realize that the door to your cell was never locked. Paul had this choice too. He could allow his past to continue to define him or he could use his past to redefine his future. We have that same choice today: stay stuck in the past or move into the destiny GOD has for us not leaving behind our past mistakes, but using them to propel us forward. “I am what I am” for Christ and for His Kingdom.