If feels like there are so many world crisis right now reeling out of control; the Israel & Gaza conflict, Christians persecuted in Iraq, the crisis at our own borders with children and immigrants, the aggression of Russian in Ukraine, the Ebola plague in West Africa and numerous others. Often we feel concern but are basically untouched until it hits home, then it becomes personal. The crisis takes on a face and a name and we feel the weight of the battle.
For our family it is the Ebola plague that has us watching, waiting, worrying and praying. I wonder, will I still care about Liberia when our family is safely out of harms way? Will I still pray for the thousands of suffering, dying people trapped in superstition and hopelessness? Will I still pray for wisdom, safety and strength for the numerous faith and health organizations on the front lines of this crisis?
Sometimes our unconcern stems from the fact that we feel helpless, unable to do anything. What can I do about missiles in the Middle East? My voice is small and weak at the injustice in our own land. I can not get my arms around the tragedy of children stuck in “no-man’s land”. I can’t tell Putin a piece of my mind or stop his aggression. I can not stop that horrific Ebola virus but I can pray.
When the reality of the our family situation hit this past Sunday I thought immediately of the verse in II Chronicles 20:15b, “The battle is not yours, but God’s”. That very evening, would you believe what I read in my daily devotions…..II Chronicles 20! I am using the Daily Bible and that was the reading for the day. Isn’t God good?!!!
Jehoshaphat was king of Judah and he received word that a vast army from numerous countries (Moab, Ammon & Syria) were enroute to battle against him and were already at En Gedi. This was the biggest external threat of his reign and he was greatly afraid. King Jehoshaphat humbled himself and sought the Lord. He called his people to Jerusalem and proclaimed a time of prayer and fasting. The King stood before his people and prayed. He not only acknowledge God but proclaimed their unfailing trust in God even in the midst of incredible odds. “Even if disaster comes on us-sword, judgment, pestilence, or famine-we will stand in this temple because this is where your presence is.”
An amazing thing happened. The Spirit of God fell on Jahaziel and he prophesied, “Do not be afraid nor dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours, but God’s. You will not need to fight in this battle. Position yourselves, stand still and see the salvation of the Lord, who is with you.”
The King and the people knew they had heard the voice of God. They fell on the ground and worshipped. Then they rose up and sang praises to God. What a time of spiritual refreshing that was.
The next morning they were up early and the King stood before his army and said, “Believe in the Lord your God.” After consulting with his people they appointed everyone who could sing to go before the army and sing praises. Can you imagine an army coming at you in battle with a huge choir in front singing about the goodness and holiness of God? The forces of evil were turned into total chaos and the advancing armies turned on each other and the battle against themselves was so intense that no one escaped. Victory came in a strange but powerful way.
There are so many good lessons to gleam from this incredible story of God’s goodness, His faithfulness, His care and protection. Sometimes I feel crushed by the onslaught of attack against me. But I am struck how powerful praise births victory over insurmountable battles in my life. When I face difficult circumstances, the dark season of night in my life I usually retreat in prayer but true victory comes when I began to sing. Psalms 22:3 explains that God is enthroned in the praises of his people. Somehow prayer releases the power of God. Somehow praise becomes oil of joy for a weary, burdened soul. Whenever and wherever God’s people praise Him, God moves in their midst and miraculous things happen. It may not be as expected but like the people of Judah we experience God.
This past week in church we sang “Put on the Garment of Praise” and that has become my heart cry this week.
Put on the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness
Lift up your voice to God.
Praise with the Spirit and with understanding
O magnify the Lord.
All you that mourn in Zion, I have authority
To appoint unto you in Zion, oil of joy that will set you free.
Lift up the hands that hang down. Lift up the voice now still.
Give unto God continuous praise. Sing forth from Zion’s hill.
Sing to Yahweh, alleluia. Worship and praise our God.
Praise and adore Him, bow down before Him, O magnify the Lord!
We don’t know how God will work or intervene in Liberia. But we do know He knows what is happening and His heart breaks at the pain and suffering. I wonder why the life of a young doctor, 33 years old with a wife and young children, and has a heart for medical missions, is hanging in the balances?
I am reminded of be moving story of Jim Elliot and other four men who were killed by the ambush of Auca Indians as they were landing their plane in the jungles of Ecuador. They had felt the call of God to bring the gospel to an unreached people. God was able to use their seemingly untimely deaths to bring about what life could not give and the hearts of many Aucas were changed as a result.
His story can be found at http://www.inspirationalchristians.org/biography/jim-elliot/
Maybe these battles are not ours to fight. Maybe if we just declare His praise and then stand back we can watch God’s glorious victory!
Praise the LORD
For His mercy endures forever.
II Chronicles 20:21