Certain occasions in life create clouds of confusion, fear, and unsettledness. Our current global fight with the coronavirus pandemic pushes each of us to find our physical, emotional, and spiritual footing.
Nearly three thousand years ago, a young new king in the Middle East found himself overwhelmed. In 2 Chronicles 20 we see Jehoshaphat of Judah dazed by enemy nations marching against Judah. The text simply says —“Jehoshaphat was afraid.”
This moment in our time and history finds us dazed and confused. I spent some time this last week reviewing how the young king handled moments of chaos and confusion. I see four “tips.”
- Resolve that it is OK to be perplexed and confused. Don’t just grit your teeth and pretend there is nothing going on. Don’t stick your head in the sand, ignoring reality. Taking our confusion to God in honest prayer is a sign of a healthy spiritual life. C. S. Lewis’ helps us here: “lay before God what is in us…not what is supposed to be in us.” Stop beating yourself up if you’re afraid, confused, overwhelmed, etc. That is part of being human.
- Find the voice of Jesus in the midst of all the noise. Tune your heart and head to something other than just the latest statistics, dramatic news, and prognostications. As we all know, it’s a very noisy world. The volume of words flooding us daily is overwhelming. Don’t misunderstand me, though. Yes, we should not ignore the wisdom of the medical professionals, economic experts, and even experienced friends. But don’t make that your most trusted advisor alone. Tune your ears to the promises and guidance of Jesus as well. Listen for hope. Jehoshaphat went heavenly, and it boosted him above the sheer human solutions to life’s biggest questions and dilemmas. Get some higher wisdom.
- Go back and rehearse the things you know to be true and foundational. Hit rewind and rehearse the faithfulness and goodness of God in the past. Reiterate the truth that God has guided and protected us before. Remind yourself that you are not alone and your Creator God loves and cares for you. This is one of the great practices of the people of the Old Testament. They constantly reminded themselves of their faithful God. A grateful heart is a powerful muscle.
- Take the steps of action but learn how to leave the results to God. This is accepting two realities – you have responsibility but at the same time, you don’t have ultimate responsibility. Learn how to live with a practical mindset of God’s sovereignty. Learn how to have a peace bigger than your situation and circumstances. Learn not to obsess with outcomes as if they only belong to you. Learn that even the smartest among us can only see so much of the road ahead.
In his book, Better Under Pressure, Justin Menkes notes that the best leaders are those who flourish under pressure, as if pressure itself is a given.
Jehoshaphat flourished, but in an odd way. He flourished by admitting his fear and then still acting by leading his people through the fear.
Pastor Martyn Lloyd-Jones said that many of our troubles come because we listen to ourselves instead of speaking to ourselves. In this moment, Jehoshaphat spoke to himself. He didn’t have all the answers, but like any great leader, he would lead the way in finding them out.
Jehoshaphat’s moment of greatest fear became the moment when he shines the brightest, though. The king leads the people in humble prayer, honestly confessing, “We don’t know what to do, but our eyes are on You.”
May that be our prayer today.