By Marilynn Chadwick

Do you ever feel like some problems just won’t budge? You can’t seem to win your spiritual battle, no matter how much you pray and pray and pray. Perhaps you need a breakthrough.

Breakthrough was first used as a military term to signify an offensive thrust past the defensive lines of warfare. The word entered the realm of common speech during the technological age, often used to describe a sudden discovery or invention. Breakthroughs often occur only after repeated failures.

Think about it. Thomas Edison tried unsuccessfully over 10,000 times before his final breakthroughinvention of the electric lightbulb. The Wright brothers experienced hundreds of crashes before their breakthrough in flight. Scientists performed countless experiments before breakthroughs in DNA research.

Breakthroughs require perseverance and strategy – especially in the spiritual realm. At times, we seem to crash headlong into a formidable yet unseen enemy again and again.

We can learn a lesson from the psalmist and warrior-king, David. Years earlier, he conquered the Philistine giant Goliath. But here he is again, facing the Philistine army not far from the very site of his famous face-to-face encounter with the giant.

This time, the Philistines waged their attack in the Valley of Rephaim, “the valley of trouble.” Though a seasoned warrior, David pauses, asking God for his marching orders: David asked God, ‘Should I go out to fight the Philistines? Will you hand them over to me?’ The Lord replied, ‘Yes, go ahead. I will hand them over to you.’ So David and his troops went up to Baal-perazim and defeated the Philistines there. ‘God did it!’ David exclaimed. ‘He used me to burst through my enemies like a raging flood!’ So they named that place Baal-perazim (which means ‘the Lord who bursts through’)” (1 Chronicles 14:10-11 NLT).

The Philistines abandoned their gods and fled, but they returned again to raid the valley one more time. Even with the victory still fresh in his mind, David prays: Once again David asked God what to do. ‘Do not attack them straight on,’ God replied. ‘Instead, circle around behind and attack them near the poplar trees. When you hear a sound like marching feet in the tops of the poplar trees, go out and attack! That will be the signal that God is moving ahead of you to strike down the Philistine army.’ So David did what God commanded, and they struck down the Philistine army all the way from Gibeon to Gezer. So David’s fame spread everywhere, and the Lord caused all the nations to fear David” (1 Chronicles 14:14-17 NLT).

Good thing David was listening, for God’s strategy the second time required a very different response. I’m reminded of Aslan’s comment to Lucy: “God never does things the same way twice.”

Persevere in your battle, my friend. Ask God for guidance. You might be surprised at his answers. Seek him every time. Humility is the mark of a good soldier. I pray that your “Valley of Trouble” becomes the very place where you encounter Jesus as “Lord of the Breakthrough.”

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