David and I enjoy eating on our balcony when the weather affords it – which is often here in Southern Africa. Today we were discussing the oncoming challenges of Covid-19, and feeling a bit overwhelmed I asked him, “What is a good verse for such a time as this?”
After pondering for a moment, David responded with “our eyes are on you” from 2 Chronicles 20:12. The setting for that verse is King Jehoshaphat and the great horde of three aligned armies coming toward them. The nation of Israel looked small and meager in comparison to all the enemies marching toward them. They felt overwhelmed and frightened, so the king called out to the Lord in the assembly of Judah and Jerusalem and he said:
“O our God, will you not execute judgment on them? For we are powerless against this great horde that is coming against us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.”
An interesting note is that as the people prepared to go out to face their enemy, King Jehoshaphat appointed specific people to go out front in special attire and … amazingly … sing thanksgiving to the Lord. How many armies have you ever heard of that had singers as the front line? This is what they sang (verse 21): “Give thanks to the Lord, for his steadfast love endures forever.”
What a great model for us to do when we feel overwhelmed by all that is happening around us. The “great horde coming against us” is the coronavirus; one doctor said “I view every person coming toward me on the street as a bullet – it might graze me, hurt me badly, or kill me.”
We are fearful of the unknown, and fearful of the responses government and business are making to the unknown. We don’t know what to do, but we will fix our eyes on the Lord. We will choose to think thanks right in the middle of the battle. Just like the Israelites had no idea how God was going to work this all out; they still sent singers to sing thanks to the Lord.
Like most people, I struggle so much with ambiguity. It is a hard thing for us as humans. Right now there is LOTS of ambiguity. But this is exactly what God has designed for us presently. So, with God’s help, I want to grab that ambiguity and think thanks right in the middle of it and power through the difficulty on the supernatural wings of gratitude and grace.
I relate easily with Paul in 2 Corinthians 12 where he pleads for the Lord to remove his thorn in the flesh. The Lord graciously answers no, but adds that His grace is sufficient for him, for His power was able to make him just perfect in weakness.
This, too, will pass. Even if we should lose our earthly lives, we will be with the Lord forever.
So What Happened?
You would not believe it. 2 Chronicles 20:22 says: “And when they began to sing and praise, the Lord set an ambush…” The enemies around the Israelites started to turn on each other, the whole alliance melting down such that they obliterated each other. By the time the Israelites arrived at the watchtower of the wilderness to look toward the horde in verse 24, the enemy was all dead, just bodies everywhere.
When they began to sing and praise!! The Lord is pleased when we are thinkful. When we choose to think praise and express it even when our circumstances are dreadful around us, we power through in faith offering up a sacrifice of praise and trust in the Almighty One.
So what about me? How can my thinkfulness change the great horde of Covid-19 that is approaching? How can my choosing to think thanks help when people around me are dying, loosing their jobs, and facing hopeless circumstances?
Well, here are a few things for which to be thankful:
- God is getting our attention; even this great Western World is a vapor and is going to pass away soon;
- God is giving families the opportunity to spend quality and quantity time together, for parents to invest in their first disciples;
- God is bringing our impurities to the surface through the heat of change and pressure so that we can repent and yield that area to God;
- God is giving us more opportunity to read and pray and write;
- God is shifting our values away from vain entertainment industries and toward the meaningful others-serving medical and teaching professions;
- God is teaching us to trust His character and promises even though we cannot understand His ways in this storm;
- God has given mankind the smarts to invent electricity, the internet and tech devices through which we can communicate and gain valuable information (there was no such help in past great pandemics);
- God is opening up opportunities for me, and little churches now going online, to witness about the hope and forgiveness found in Jesus;
- God could be freeing me from the heart idols of comfort, control and people-pleasing that have dominated my life;
- God is giving a precious opportunity to meet on Zoom with a supporting church
Powerless Is Good
That statement seems so contradictory. How can it be true that when I am powerless, I can be strong? It is because we have a supernatural God. He delights in showing Himself mighty on our behalf, but doesn’t delight in doing what we tell Him to do. No, His ways are higher and better (Isaiah 55:8-9). He delights when we let go, open our hands, worship Him and embrace our Father’s will in our lives no matter what He chooses.
“For the sake of Christ, then I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
2 Corinthians 12:10