When You're Up to Your Eyeballs in Trouble, Part 1
Someone once observed that as Christians we're either in the midst of a battle, just emerging from a battle, or headed into one. Rarely do we bask in flowery meadows of peace! Perhaps in heaven we'll enjoy that, but on this earth we'll have trouble. Everyone reading this is in one of these three places or you know someone who's there.
Some people think that if revival were to break out, it would be the end of our troubles. It will be, but it'll be the front end! It's a fact of earthly life that when God opens the windows of heaven to bless us, the devil opens the doors of hell to blast us. When God begins moving, the devil fires up all his artillery. Should we then fold up and go away? No! We're to stand up and pray. God did not call us to fail but to be victorious. The death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ established our victory. We will have victory when we learn how to face our battles.
The people of Judah and King Jehoshaphat provide a perfect example. In 2 Chronicles 20, right on the heels of revival, incredible destruction threatens:
"...the children of Moab, and the children of Ammon, and with them other beside the Ammonites, came against Jehoshaphat to battle...a great multitude against thee from beyond the sea...."
This wasn't a bump in the road; they faced certain death.
See Your Battle as God Sees It
When you encounter a problem, see it as it really is: a blessing in disguise. Now you say, "There you go with that happiness talk preachers always give me when I have problems." No, a blessing in disguise.
"My brethren, consider it all joy when you encounter various trials, knowing this, that the trying (testing) of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing." (James 1:2)
God does not allow problems to come to you to hurt you, but to build you.
Set Your Focus: Seek the Lord
Jehoshaphat faced an attack from three wicked kings. All of us — Christian or non-Christian — face three "wicked kings." They take the form of sin, sorrow, and death.
"And Jehoshaphat...set himself to seek the LORD, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah. And Judah gathered themselves together to ask help of the LORD: even out of all the cities of Judah they came to seek the LORD." (2 Chronicles 20:3-4)
In a convocation of fasting and prayer they came to seek God. Prayer was not their last resort but their first thought.
Many of us want to use God as the spare tire rather than the steering wheel. We wait till we have a spiritual blowout, then see if God will rescue us, rather than doing as Jesus taught: "Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these (other) things will be added unto you." Why does God allow us to have problems? To cause us to do exactly what Jehoshaphat did: seek Him!
If we never had problems, most likely we would not seek God. Name the times when you've grown the most. Be honest. When everything was fine? No. God was nearest and most real to you when you agonized in prayer and found Him to be faithful. That was true of King David: "Thou hast enlarged me when I was in distress." (Psalm 4:1)
God allows heartache, tears, and turmoil to bring us to Him. In times of need we seek the face of God.
"Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need." (Hebrews 4:14)
Examine Your Past
Once you set your heart to seek God, stop and remember those times before when He was with you. What He has done before, He will do again. He has never failed you, nor will He fail you.
Looking back, Jehoshaphat reminds the Lord of His power and might and what He has done in the past. "God, You have all power over the nations. You gave this land to Abraham. You drove out our enemies. You have done it before." Don't miss verses 5-7. Read them in your Bible. He is the LORD. He changes not. He did not die for you to abandon you. Remember His past faithfulness.
We're just getting started. Next, we'll see how to embrace His promises and enlist His protection. And I'll give you ten things to do when trouble comes.