He said, “Listen, King Jehoshaphat and all who live in Judah and Jerusalem! This is what the LORD says to you: ‘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.” - 2 Chron. 20:15, 17
Last night, Danny and I woke up to the sound of thunder and lightning outside of our condo building in Coquitlam. And although I’m never a fan of being woken up in the middle of the night, these kinds of situations are different.
I love lightning. Having done my college degree in the Mid-West, I witnessed many dramatic storms where lightening quite literally lit up the sky for hours; and I’ve always loved them. I suppose watching the film, ‘Twister,’ at a young age developed a deep fascination and awe of stormy weather.
We don’t get many storms here in BC, but when they do come, they remind me of how small we really are and how little control we really have.
Back in December, many around the world watched the SpaceX Falcon rocket being launched to the International Space Station. When the camera angle showed the perspective of the rocket from the ground, it was absolutely massive; and I was in awe of what human beings can accomplish.
And yet, when another camera angle from miles away showed the actual launching of the rocket, along with its flight through the atmosphere, I couldn’t help but stare in wonder at how small it looked compared to the giant blue sky.
Here was one of humanity’s greatest achievements, and yet compared to the grandness of space, it was still so fragile.
In our highly-privileged society, where most things are within our grasp and able to be controlled or at least decently managed, we don’t often remember what it’s like to feel out of control.
In other words, most of our lives are spent standing at the foot of the rocket, marveling at our own power and control, at what we can do and accomplish. But we also need to be reminded of the wide-angle shot which gives us the real picture.
And that does not mean that our efforts are reduced to insignificance. It means that we remember where the power really belongs.
When King Jehoshaphat was sitting on his throne and everything was hunky-dory, he was standing at the foot of the rocket. But when he was called to enter into battle and made to feel tiny compared to the size of his rival army, suddenly it was a different story. He was seeing his life from a different angle.
So what does he do?
Earlier in 2 Chron. 20, we see that Jehoshaphat’s first response is to pray. And after reminding himself and his courts about the rule and power and might of YHWH, he finishes with this: “Our God, will you not judge them? For 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.”
There is no superiority complex here. There’s no exaggeration of his abilities. There’s no inspirational, fight-your-giants kind of speech. He doesn’t immediately call up his army buddies and try to figure it out for himself.
And out of his prayer comes the reminder that he need not be discouraged or afraid, but that the battle belongs to the Lord.
In other words, the way that Jehoshaphat ‘fights’ is in prayer. The way he seeks control is to let go of it. He invokes His God, the one true God, to be his shield and protector, to see the bigger narrative, to offer up the outcome and let go of his need to feel powerful.
There’s a song by Phil Wickham that I recently came across, and I want to invite you to listen to it.
But before you do, consider what your greatest struggle is at the moment. Consider what you are often seeking to gain control over but are unable to. Consider what you may need to offer up to the Lord and ask the Great God of the Universe to hold in His hands.
Lift up your battle to God. Remember that every battle we face belongs to Him.
Hold your position, and know that you can trust Him in every outcome.