Spiritual Rumination by Julia Phillips

There is no greater way to describe our God than that He is our Father. He is always available when we need Him. He is such a comfort during stormy times and times of uncertainty. This concept and attribute must be difficult for the young generation in our land; many have never felt the all-encompassing, protective care and love of a father. Huge numbers are living without any involvement of their fathers. The beautiful thing is our God is the only Living God — the One who never changes — who is and remains the same yesterday, today, and forever.

I’ve noticed lately how a great number of people are going through difficult, painful, and scary circumstances. Just this week our little community has experienced traumatic deaths of young people, and friends with recent diagnoses of what could be scary medical battles. I’ve received calls from two women who are broken in spirit upon learning their decades’ long marriages are now crumbling. There are neighbors concerned about potential job loss. I am not saying there are not amazing periods of joy, blessing, and answered prayer, there have been many. However, it is those who are hurting, surrounded by circumstances which feel overwhelming, who lead and prompt us to prayer, to support, and to love.

I am reminded of an amazing story of a great king who faced circumstances he felt powerless to overcome. Battles in which he was greatly outnumbered and overpowered. Until the Lord spoke, that is.

As the armies of Moab, Ammon, and Mount Seir descended upon Jerusalem, Jehoshaphat, the king of Judah, called for what we would term a state of emergency for the entire city. He knew he needed to turn to the Lord, just as all of us do when we encounter “mountains” or “giants” much bigger than ourselves. King Jehoshaphat gathered all the men, wives, women, and children of Judah together and they stood before the house of the Lord waiting to hear from their king. He had everyone fast — men, women, and even little kids. They knew their enemies outnumbered them many times over, and the fear of losing everything was crushing their spirits. Wives were worried of losing their husbands. Remember, it was hand to hand combat back then and there was no social security or death benefits. If a woman’s husband was killed, she was left to care for herself and her family, leaning on relatives to provide everything. I can’t imagine what the children were thinking. And they were hungry to boot. Imagine if our entire community gathered at the city park, deciding to seek God together for our very future and literal lives. No food and drinks provided. The people of Judah waited to see what the king would say.

I love King Jehoshaphat’s heart. He didn’t send everyone home to sharpen their spears. He didn’t give some depressing speech, telling everyone this was probably “the end.” Listen to what he prayed loudly before the people:

“And said, O Lord God of our fathers, art not Thou God in heaven? And rulest not Thou over all the kingdoms of the heathen? And in thine hand is there not power and might, so that none is able to withstand Thee? Art not thou our God, who did drive out the inhabitants of this land before Thy people Israel, and gave it to the seed of Abraham thy friend forever? If, when evil comes upon us, as the sword, judgment, or pestilence, or famine, we stand before this house, and in Thy presence, (for Thy name is in this house,) and cry unto Thee in our affliction, then Thou will hear and help.” 2 Chronicles 20:6-7,9.

What faith! Now there is a true leader. In these three short verses the king reminded all who were facing terrifying circumstances, evil reports, and desperately crying for help, to not forget the God of their fathers and to remember there was no power in heaven or earth greater than He. He reminded the people of God’s constant faithfulness through each difficulty and battle, and of His victory over every seemingly insurmountable circumstance. The king, maybe most importantly, reminded his people of Father God’s love and deliverance no matter the cause of their fear and trepidation — all because His name, meaning His nature, constancy, and love remained with them as they gathered in His house, without fail.

Do you know someone who is facing what appears to be hopeless circumstances? They feel immobilized and overwhelmed by their challenges, seeing no way out, and they are looking toward you for help. You, child of God, are the living sanctuary of the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords. Once again, I am reminded of what Peter spoke when he faced the man with impossible needs, and he knew he alone could not help but he knew who could and would. “Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the Name (the unfailing, constant, faithful, powerful nature) of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk.” Acts 3:6.

Just as with Jehoshaphat, there are times when those we love, even strangers, recognize and sense the very presence of God within us as they feel besieged on all fronts by bloodthirsty enemies, evil reports, or pending circumstances — and they reach out their hand for help. I’m sure it happens to you often, especially because of the last days in which we are living. I just want to draw your attention to something that often prevents us from reaching out to help such a person — fear. King Jehoshaphat’s initial reaction was fear. I’m so glad that the Word of God doesn’t censor unglamorous details. The king was a regular person just like you or me. When he first heard he was being attacked on every front, he panicked. But what set him apart and can set us apart from others is that even when he was fearful, the very first thing he did was “set himself to seek the Lord.” 2 Chronicles 20:3. We need to remember that any time we are attacked repeatedly, or are called upon to help another who is, it is time to set ourselves to seek the Lord regarding the situation. God is not the author of all your troubles, He is the author and finisher of your faith, victory, and help. His perfect love will cast out all fear. “What time I am afraid I will trust in Thee.”

King Jehoshaphat refused to ruminate on how overpowered his armies were. Instead, he centered his thoughts and words on how big, powerful, and faithful his God was. He hoped in the Lord. He shouted to all those people gathered together, fasting, “No one can withstand our God!” Hope is such an amazing force. When you can speak hope into someone’s life who feels surrounded by negative situations, circumstances, and feelings, you provide them with a powerful tool for their spiritual toolbox. The word “hope” is the Greek word “elpis,” which means, “a favorable, confident expectation; the happy anticipation of good.” It brings joy to that person, causing them to know the bleak circumstances won’t last, it’s not over yet!

King Jehoshaphat was speaking life to his people right in the center of their life and death battle. He turned the focus off himself and turned it to where it needed to be in order to find help and experience victory. Man can disappoint and fail us, but God never will. If we are left to our own devices, trusting in our earthly wisdom, we will only sink deeper into pain and frustration. It robs our hope and defeats our joy. We need to learn for our own circumstances as well as when we minister to others that all our trust needs to be in the Lord our God — our Heavenly Father.

As King Jehoshaphat set himself to seek the face of the Lord, while surrounded by terrible armies approaching from every side, the Lord was faithful and spoke through His prophet.

“Hearken, all ye all Judah and you inhabitants of Jerusalem, and you, King Jehoshaphat, Thus saith the Lord unto you, Be not afraid nor dismayed by reason of this great multitude; for the battle is not yours, but God’s.” 2 Chronicles 20:15.

“Ye shall not need to fight in this battle; set yourselves, stand ye still, and see the salvation of the Lord with you, O Judah and Jerusalem: fear not, nor be dismayed; tomorrow go out against them: for the Lord will be with you.” 2 Chronicles 20:17.

When they heard these words of hope, all the people humbled themselves before the Lord, bowing and worshipping before Him. Today the Lord is saying the same thing to you in your situation, or to someone you desire to help. Hope in Him because He loves you. You don’t have to live in fear and discouragement even when you feel attacked by things much bigger than yourself. You have to remember, the battle is not yours, it is the Lord’s. Stand still and see the salvation of God. That doesn’t mean you literally stand still and do nothing. God still ordered the armies and peoples of Jehoshaphat out to battle, but they were told to remember the Lord was fighting for them and was going to remain with them and turn the tide of the battle. It’s a posture of hope, believing and taking God at His Word no matter what the reports or circumstances look like. As you center yourself, your thoughts, your faith, and your hopes upon Him, He will lead you concerning what to do, just as He led the king.

This leads us to one more thing. Sometimes the Lord leads you to do things that seem very different than what the world would advise you to do. Just before the army of Judah marched out to the battlefield, Jehoshaphat consulted with the people. He appointed worshippers who would march in front of the troops and sing praises to the Lord. Now, if you suggested that to a general leading an army over in Iran, he would fire you and maybe send you for a psychiatric evaluation. You certainly wouldn’t be an advisor any longer. You’d be called foolish and told you should know how critical it is to go in a stealth mode to gain tactical advantage over the enemies. A band of worshipers praising God at the top of their lungs, giving away their position, would sound more like a suicide mission than a strong military strategy. 

As the people obeyed God’s orders, the Lord sent ambushments and confused the enemy so badly they attacked each other instead of Judah. When Judah’s armies arrived at the battlefield behind the praisers, they saw utter annihilation — death everywhere, along with all the riches of the enemy armies. The destruction of the enemy was so complete, 2 Chronicles says, “No one had escaped.” Jehoshaphat and his men spent three full days gathering the spoils of war that they found among the dead bodies. On the fourth day, they gathered with all the treasure in the Valley of Berachah, and they worshipped and gave thanks to the Lord there. Berachah happens to mean “blessing.” God had turned their fear into rejoicing, their sorrow into joy, and their troubles into blessings.

So, if you are facing troubles today — troubles that feel like arrows from every direction – what will you do? Turn your focus on to Him. Who will you believe? “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28.

Your Heavenly Father’s wisdom, resources, power, healing, restoration, provision, help, and comfort are with you and remain with you because He, the Living God, lives within you. Never say, “There’s no way I can help that person. I can’t handle my own problems.” It is not about our strength, our wisdom, or our answers — it’s about His. “So, as God’s own chosen people, who are holy (set apart, sanctified, for His purpose) and well-beloved (by God Himself), put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience (which has the power to endure whatever injustice or unpleasantness comes, with good temper.” (Colossians 3:12 AMP) 

He is faithful and will always be faithful to lead you through your valley. He will lead you to help others who look to you desperately for urgent help, and they will be helped as you turn their focus unto Jesus Christ, no matter the battle, the enemy, or the need. And He promises to repay all that the locusts or enemies have stolen, just as Judah gathered all the spoils from those who ran to fight against them and destroy them. Impossible you say? With man, yes. With God, nothing is impossible. 

Remember, the battle is not yours, but God’s.

Ruminate on that.