“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” – 2 Chronicles 20:12
It is a powerful feeling to revisit something in your past and find tons of new meanings in it—it can be an object, a thought, a song, a text, or any number of memorable things. I rejoice when that happens for me, and it did during this Spring break. I was reading the history of Jehoshaphat, King of Judah—one of my favorites—in order to prepare a sermon. It awakened in me a memory of the first time I heard a reference to this text. It was in a beautiful song performed by Ron Kenoly: “The Battle is the Lord’s.”
Preachers often like to refer to the history of King Jehoshaphat to talk about fasting and prayer. However, as I read the text again, I was blown away by different meanings, feelings, and sensations I experienced as the text became new to me. My mind was drawn to pay attention on the King’s reactions, and what I saw was not a faithful mighty king, but a vulnerable man. He was clueless as to what actions to take and was desperately trying to find support anywhere he could.
In general, we will find a positive description of King Jehoshaphat in the bible. He is described as a king devoted to God and a leader who sent Levites and priests to teach his people the Law of the Lord. He governed faithfully, leading judges to provide justice to different part of Judah. However, when he heard about the war which was being waged by the Moabites and Ammonites against Judah, he felt desperate.
He was not able to cope. Perhaps he was remembering the time he had to flee from the battle field, or maybe he felt incapable of coming up with an effective military strategy. Perhaps he was afraid of the wrath of the Lord. Regardless of what his fears were, he knew he did not have the answer to his problems. The only solution he had in mind was to seek help from the Lord with the only tools he knew: fasting and prayer.
In his fear, Jehoshaphat proclaimed a fast for all of Judah. It is interesting to note that the text does not mention the king meeting with his officials, judges, or captains. Instead, he was crying out, “somebody in this kingdom! Anybody! Whoever you are, help!” Through his reactions to his situation, Jehoshaphat confessed his limitations, his fears, his need for support, and finally, his ultimate trust in God.
People in despair often lose their capability of rational thinking. That is why it is often helpful to talk with someone. Finding someone to speak with about our problems can help us to see from a different perspective, moving us to recover our normal thinking and functioning. King Jehoshaphat recovered his sense of reality while he was praying. It is a wonderful experience when we have the opportunity to lay down our fears, wishes, and our very souls to God in prayer. Listening to Him reframes our perceptions and helps us to see things clearly.
While he was praying, the king of Judah remembered who God is, what his people’s history is, and he begins to see reality clearly again. Therefore, he confesses that the enemy is stronger and they have no other protection but the Lord as he prays: “We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.”
How many times do we receive some news that threatens to demolish our world, leaving us feeling powerless, incapable, and desperate? How many of us have lost the ability to find a way out or a solution? Fear can be the first step to find clarity and solutions to our problems. We can find support in people and in God. God cares for us, but He doesn’t always act according to our wishes. After all, He is God, and we are not. Yet, He can guide us in moments of despair. King Jehoshaphat’s reactions do not just demonstrate that God will help us do what we can to overcome our troubles, but also that He can and will step in with supernatural help when the natural is not an option anymore.
Let’s be bold and cry out for help when we need it. Together, let’s be the real church of Christ. God will guide us in truth, and will give us a clarity of mind that will help us work toward solutions for our problems. If some supernatural help is needed, He will step in. Let’s trust that God still is God. I prefer to believe that having “my eyes on Him” is better, no matter what. What about you?
Lucas Bonates is a first-time contributor to Soul Care Collective. Thanks, Lucas!