Natural to be afraid; Fear is a normal response to new, daunting, challenging situations that are beyond our ability to control. Situations come from all sources: real world, TV, social media, natural events, imminent threats. Pandemics, world events, stock market, health issues, family breakups. Fear happens when events get beyond our control. Many verses about not being afraid, Joshua told 3 times to be “Strong and courageous”. God expects and understands our fear and does not condemn us for being afraid.
Imagine a strong thunder and lightening storm coming through and how it might frighten your children. How do you respond as parents? Scold or comfort? As imperfect fathers and mothers, we do our best to comfort our children.
God as a perfect and generous father wants to give us the same comfort and reassurance. He is patient and loving. We need to call out to Him and He will hear us.
King Jehoshaphat. Fourth king of Judah. Became king when he was 35 and ruled for 25 years. He followed the way of David his forefather. He worshipped God, not Baal. He gained great wealth and honor among his people and nations. He built forts and cities throughout Judah. He removed the high places and the Asherah poles and sent men throughout the kingdom to teach the Law of God. 2 Chron 17:7-9
He was also characterized as being impulsive and naïve which led to foolish alliances from which only the grace of God could extricate him. King Ahab of Israel – alliance.
He was.one of the godly kings who obeyed the Lord. When faced with an overwhelming army of Moabites, Ammenites the NIV says he was alarmed by the news. The NLT describes Jehoshaphat as being terrified by the news and begged the Lord for guidance.
Key: He turned to the Lord
2 Chron 20:9 he gathered his people together at the temple in Jerusalem and prayed “We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.” 2 Chron 20:12. Good prayer for our times, whether a pandemic, or national crises.
God gave Jehoshaphat through his prophet Jahaziel, seven instructions: 2 Chronicles 20:15-17
- Do not be afraid: Jehoshaphat was terrified.”. :It is how we face our fear by relying on the Lord that will determine how we manage through the circumstance. Pray before flying. Isaiah 41:10
- Do not be discouraged: Don’t look down, look up. God is not surprised to our response to challenging circumstances. He designed us. He does not condemn us, but He does provide a way out. 1 Cor 10:13; Phil 4:12-13
- The battle is not your own: Easy to say, what does this mean? Its about surrender. Letting go and allowing God to do His will. When we see no way out because we are acting in our own strength is the time that God can and does perform the greatest miracles Some denominations will say that the age of miracles is in the past. They have served their purpose. God is a God of yesterday, today and tomorrow. He is the Alpha and Omega and He is both ancient and timeless. 2 Chron 20:17
- Take up our position with God. A reminder that we have a role in the battle. We have to be in the fight. Jehoshaphat prepares for battle through prayer and worship“
- Remain in position; How and where we position ourselves is vitally important to determining the battle’s outcome. Don’t give up, don’t leave the fight or you won’t experience victory and we put others at risk by walking away. Dan Crenshaw
- Watch God work: God is true to His Word. He doesn’t lie. He purposes to perform in ways that are beyond our understanding. We get to watch God work when we put our trust and faith in him. God is a miracle worker. In order for god to work, we need to surrender to Him and let Him fulfill His promises. Moses crosses the Red Sea
- Face the enemy with confidence. Not confidence in ourselves, but confidence in God.
Never let your head hang down. Never give up and sit down and grieve. Find another way. And don’t pray when it rains if you don’t pray when the sun shines.” Satchel Paige.
2 Chronicles 20:17 “Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed. Tomorrow go out against them, and the Lord will be with you.”
How did the story end? Jehospaphat assigned men to sign and to praise God for his holiness. These men went out ahead of the army saying “Give thanks to the Lord, for His love endures forever.” Armies turned on each other and slaughtered each other. The Ammonite and Moabite and others were completely annihilated, and the army of Jehoshaphat did not engage them at all. 3 days to collect all the plunder.
Side note: As a result of this amazing victory, the fear of God came upon all kingdoms when they learned how the Lord had defeated these armies and peace reigned throughout the region.
Four steps to changing how we walk with God:
- Believe that God can transform us: the challenges we have faced and are facing today can expose our frailties, including areas where we need to strengthen our walk with God. Luke 6:46-49
Tactics for transformation are daily prayer, time in the word, fasting, but it begins with simply believing that God can and will transform us when we submit to him. Jesus healed the crippled man after 38 years. Moses was changed from a fugitive to a powerful leader of a nation.
- Be honest about where we are in our walk with God. Romans 12:3 “Because of the privilege and authority God has given me, I give each of you this warning: don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith god has given us.” Have we grown lazy, too casual, distant, too familiar. Are we close enough to God that in times of crises or challenge we can call upon Him with confidence or have we allowed events and circumstances to put distance between us and God? Hebrews 11:6 “And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to Him must believe that God exists and that He rewards those who sincerely seek Him.”
- Ask God for help: Who do you call first when you need help? Humility to pray and ask for help. Do we feel too distant or unworthy? Have we neglected to establish and build upon our relationship with God which then puts distance between us. Is that real or is that the enemy telling us we are unworthy. The price has been paid for our immediate access to the throne room of God.
Ephesians 6:18. “Do all this in prayer, asking for God’s help. Pray on every occasion, as the Spirit leads. For this reason keep alert and never give up; pray for all God’s people.” Overcome, don’t give up. The fight, the battle is not ours. We have to remain in position and watch God work. We should strive to be in prayer and constant conversation with God. Like any relationship, distance creates barriers to communication. The better we know God, the easier it is to come to Him for help.
- Transform our relationship with God so we can inspire others.
It is not always about us!!! Sometimes we are a part of God’s plan that is over and above our own needs. Part of that transformative walk with God is being open to serving others, perhaps when we least feel like it. In the face of challenges, crises.
Wesley L. Fox, USMC COM recipient in the Vietnam War said “ One must have good character, solid principles and high ethical standards to inspire others to follow.”
You can be courageous and still be afraid. It is how you respond to fear that determines whether we face the enemy with confidence, not confidence in ourselves, but confidence in the Lord, or whether we turn away from victory.
Christians will face trials: James 1:2-4 “Consider it pure joy my brothers and sisters whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete and not lacking anything.”
Apostle Paul suffered throughout his ministry. How he responded during the storm that wrecked his boat.
New Normal!! The good old days.
Jehoshaphat was a good king, not a great king like David, but he had favor with God because he sought after Him when faced with challenges and overwhelming odds.
Being afraid is a natural response to unexpected or threatening circumstances. How we deal with fear, anxiety, worry and where we place our trust and faith.
God can transform us and make our weaknesses His strengths – if we submit to Him with prayer and thanksgiving.