Summary: Turn Crisis Into Conquest – God’s Way! 1) Admit your helplessness 2) Acknowledge His promises
Does anyone envy world leaders right now? I mean really, would you want to be standing in President Obama’s shoes with the job of saving the U.S. economy from its worst crisis since the Great Depression? Hundreds of millions of people are counting on the president and leaders like him to get the world’s economy back on track. And many think if anyone can do it, it’s confident leaders like Obama.
But is confidence enough to get us out of the crisis we’re in? How about the crisis our synod faces? If you’ve read the latest news bulletin from our church body, you’ll know that 15 world missionaries are being recalled and 21 North American-based pastors and staff minsters are being defunded as a result of the latest financial crisis. Congregations close to home will be affected. Tree of Life (Calgary), St. Paul’s (Calgary), and Apostles (Regina) will all lose their funding come June 30th. How are we as a synod going to make it through these difficult times? It would seem that we need confident leadership.
We need leadership all right but not the kind you see the world’s leaders displaying. They’re tripping over each other to tell us who has the best plan to get us out of this crisis. No, the kind of leadership we need is what a Jewish king named Jehoshaphat demonstrated during a national emergency. From him we’re going to learn that the way to turn crisis into conquest God’s way is by admitting our helplessness and acknowledging God’s promises.
So what’s the skinny on Jehoshaphat? Well he was a descendant of the famous King David and was generally a God-fearing king. During his reign he sent out Levites, temple workers, from Jerusalem to instruct the people in God’s Word. He also actively sought out and destroyed idols his people had made. One fault Jehoshaphat had was the he hung out with the wicked King Ahab of Israel. Still God blessed Jehoshaphat and made him a wealthy and powerful king. But just as a fat cat enjoys lounging in the sunshine more than prowling the grounds, it seems that the wealth and power had made Jehoshaphat and his people complacent. How else do you explain how an alliance of three armies were able to march within 80 km of the capital city before it was detected?
It’s not hard for us to imagine what Jehoshaphat and his people must have felt upon hearing the news. Just over a year ago (June 2008) the Alberta government was forecasting a 12 billion dollar surplus. As a province we were riding high on economic good fortune. Builders couldn’t keep up with demands for new homes. Guys working in the oil patch believed they could afford a new truck every year. Life was good! But now? Now the Alberta government is forecasting a 4.7 billion dollar deficit. That’s a 16.7 billion dollar turnaround in one year! People who were on the verge of retirement have now had to extend their careers or consign themselves to working part-time in retirement because their savings took such a hit in the stock market. People who a year ago didn’t know what to do with all their money now find themselves out of work.
What was King Jehoshaphat’s response to the crisis? With the enemy only 80 km away you’d think the king would summon his generals for a war council, order the reservists out to their battle stations, say a quick prayer and hope for the best. But that’s not what Jehoshaphat did. “Alarmed, Jehoshaphat resolved to inquire of the LORD, and he proclaimed a fast for all Judah. 4 The people of Judah came together to seek help from the LORD; indeed, they came from every town in Judah to seek him” (2 Chronicles 20:3, 4). If a hostile country was 80 km away from dropping bombs on your neighborhood, what would you think if Prime Minister Harper said: “Stay calm everyone. Don’t panic. In fact don’t do anything. Don’t even eat any meals today. Just join me in praying.” But that’s exactly what the people of Judah did – from the oldest to the youngest they stood before the king with their families and raised their hearts to God in prayer.
The people of Judah put us to shame don’t they? When’s the last time praying was the first thing you did in crisis? Don’t we tend to use prayer as a last resort? Even worse than that, we treat it like a last second shot from full court - we don’t really think it will do any good but we’ve got to try right? Wash us clean, Lord. Wipe away the offense of our hesitancy to trust your invitation: “Call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you will honor me” (Psalm 50:15).