There’s a story in the book of 2 Chronicles (yes, 2 Chronicles) about Jehoshaphat, the king of Judah. A few chapters earlier, the Bible tells us God was with Jehoshaphat because he sought the one true God, instead of the Baals – the popular idols of the day.
This is what we read picking up in Chapter 20:
“After this the Moabites and Ammonites [read: enemies of God’s people], and with them some of the Meunites, came against Jehoshaphat for battle. Some men came and told Jehoshaphat, ‘A great multitude is coming against you from Edom, from beyond the sea; and, behold, they are in Hazazon-tamar’ (that is, Engedi) [read: your land]. Then Jehoshaphat was afraid and set his face to seek the Lord, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah. And Judah assembled to seek help from the Lord; from all the cities of Judah they came to seek the Lord.” (2 Chronicles 20:1-4)
So basically, these guys show up and tell the king, “There’s this huge terrible thing coming towards you! But actually, it isn’t just coming, it’s already here!”
Does that sound familiar? Does it remind you of these crazy days of COVID-19?
Have you felt this sense of impending badness coming toward us? Have you wondered to yourself, How are we going to get out of this one? Or, What are we supposed to do?
Well, Jehoshaphat, a faithful man, was afraid and so he went to the Lord. He prayed in front of the whole nation. He said:
“O Lord, God of our fathers, are you not God in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. In your hand are power and might, so that none is able to withstand you. Did you not, our God, drive out the inhabitants of this land before your people Israel, and give it forever to the descendants of Abraham your friend?” (2 Chronicles 20: 6-7)
In this prayer, he stated things they all know to be true of God – his strength, the promises he’d made, and the ways he’d been faithful to them before.
And then Jehoshaphat said this:
“…For we are powerless against this great horde that is coming against us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.” (2 Chronicles 20:12b)
What a great prayer! “God, we have no control, and we don’t even know what to do. But we trust you.”
To say that, and not only to say it, but to believe it – to not just know it, but to let it affect the way you live – when facing… what? Discomfort? Disruption of our normal life? The possibility of death?
“God we trust that you are strong, we trust that you are good, we trust that you love us, but mostly we trust that you have a plan through all of this.”
It reminds me of another passage from the Bible.
Jesus, facing his own impending discomfort/disruption/death, goes to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray right before he is betrayed by one of his friends.
“And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, ‘My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.'” (Matthew 26:39)
We all want God to just go ahead and call an end to all of this source of worry and disruption and uncertainty and of possible harm. We know he can do it. But we also know he knows what he’s doing. It’s out of our hands. And what better hands for it to be in?
So, Jehoshaphat and his people went to the edge of the battlefield and found all of their enemies laying dead on the ground.
Jesus went to the cross and died for the sins of the world.
We don’t know what’s around the bend for us. But this is what we do know: God is strong, God is good, God loves us, and most of all, God has a plan.
He has a plan for the world through all of this. Who knows in what ways he might use his people to reach people in the world?
He has a plan for us through all of this. Who knows how he might transform our own hearts – refining us, leading us to let go of control and some of our other idols, softening our selfishness – through all of this?
And he has a plan for the grand story of the world that passes right through all of this. He knows the end. He knows it ends with every knee bowed and every tongue confessing that Jesus is Lord.
Friends, trust in God – through COVID-19, your happiness, your heartache, and everything in between.
“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:4-7)