Summary: We go through difficult situations in life every now and then. This sermon focuses on responding to a difficult situation from the life of Jehoshaphat.
I have been deeply influenced by the life experiences of Dr. Yisu Das Tiwari, the father of Dr. Ravi Tiwari, the former Registrar of Senate of Serampore University in India. He was a Brahmin Convert. One day when he took baptism and returned home, the door was shut at his face. He was given the option to denounce his faith or leave the house, he was beaten up with a stick by his mother, and his family forsook him never to be reconciled again. But he responded to this situation with complete faith in his newly found Saviour Jesus Christ. Well, each one of us go through difficult times as this or different than this. The important thing is not that we go through tough times, but important thing is that how do we respond to such a situation. Keeping this aspect in my mind I have entitled my message as-
Responding to a Difficult Situation
Text 2 Chronicles 20:1-30
In this text we have read about King Jehoshaphat who is facing one of the most difficult situations of his life. He is informed in v.2 that a vast army is coming against him from Edom and that vast army includes Moabites and Ammonites and some Meunites. They are not coming to have fellowship with him but to rage war against him and kill him and his people and to snatch away whatever he has. We may not understand the intensity of the situation as the text narrates it in a very simple prosaic manner. But the people of Kandhmal may be able to understand the exact situation and perplexity Jehoshaphat and his people might have gone through. Let us just see who this Jehoshaphat was. Jehoshaphat was the 4th king of the separated kingdom of Judah who ruled from around 875 to 850 B.C. He was one of those few kings who loved the Lord and a zealous follower of the commandments of God. In his 3rd year he sent out certain priests, and Levites, to go through all the cities of Judah, teaching the people out of the Book of the Law. Because he sought the Lord, riches and honors increased around him. “Jehoshaphat sought the Lord with all his heart” (2 Chr. 22:9).
Judah does not seem to have done anything to provoke this attack, or to have had any reason to expect it. It came upon them like a clap of thunder in a clear sky. Such things do occur to nations, to churches, to families, to individuals. In this perplex situation what does he do? Verse 3 tells that “alarmed Jehoshaphat resolved to inquire of the Lord and he proclaimed a fast for all Judah.” This was a purposeful act that grew out of his relationship with God. Now let us see how he responds to this tough situation.
1) Recalling who God is and what has he done in the past (vv 6-9)- In these verses Jehoshaphat stands before his people and speaks to God. He recalls all that God has done for them in the past. He is able to say “Are you not our God?” (vv. 6, 7) In these verses he is not reminding God who he is, but reminding himself and his people and showing them a bigger picture of God’s magnificence. Jehoshaphat has a unique way of offering his prayer. He is nowhere asking God for helping them to win over their enemies. He is not trying to get God’s attention but focuses on his greatness. Bobbye Byerly, a woman who has written a book called, “Miracles Happen” talks about prayer and says that we must remember that praying is not about getting God’s attention. The purpose of prayer is to focus our attention on him. If we just jump into our problems then we are trying to drag God's attention into our problems, but if we first begin by focusing in on the greatness of God and the promises he has made and the history that we have had with God help us to focus on the greatness of God, it is like putting our attention on him because his attention is already on us.
When we find ourselves in a similar situation how do we respond. We mostly focus on the gravity of the present situation and forget what God has done in the past. The situation at hand seems to us as more fatal than all what we have faced in the past. Recalling what God has done in the past is an overarching theme of most of the psalms of David. He recalls the mighty acts of God in the past which strengthens him in the present and fills him with hope for the future. Jehoshaphat reminds his people of the past in order to fill them with hope that God can do the same even now.