Trouble comes in threes, they say. But who’s counting?
You’ve probably noticed that acknowledging and investigating troubles seem to make them multiply. Consider your house, for example. The roof starts leaking. So you climb into the attic to check it out and discover several bad spots, a rotten rafter, mold, mildew—and often the repair bills mount from there.
Obviously, ignoring problems also makes them multiply. Ignoring the leak today leads to the living room ceiling sitting in your lap tomorrow. So you face a dilemma: If your troubles multiply whether you examine or ignore them, what should you do?
King Jehoshaphat found himself face-to-face with trouble. A huge army marched toward Jerusalem, and the scouting reports didn’t hold out much hope. The problem on the horizon promised to be enormous by the time it reached the king. “Alarmed,” we read, “Jehoshaphat resolved to inquire of the LORD” (2 Chronicles 20:3). He looked through the trouble. Faced with an overwhelming situation, the king immediately turned to Someone who is never overwhelmed.
As we face trouble in our own lives, our prayer can be like Jehoshaphat’s: “Lord, I know you’re in charge. So I choose to recognize this trouble as your problem, not just mine. I admit that I can’t handle this situation, yet it needs to be resolved. What do you say, Lord?”
Notice how God responded to this prayer of faith. He answered, but he didn’t promise to help Judah win the battle. Instead, he said he’d fight for his people. Could the king have anticipated this answer? There are times in our lives as well when God’s good answers surprise us. But notice also that the king still had his marching orders: God told him not to be afraid (twice), not to be discouraged (twice), to march out, to take positions and to go out and face the enemy. By the time the people had completed God’s instructions, the battle was over.
Again we face a dilemma. We often find ourselves a little too close to our troubles—so close that we end up wallowing in them. Or we find ourselves trying to avoid troubles—giving them the opportunity to pull a surprise attack. But God calls us to trust him, to look through our troubles and toward him.
To Take Away
How do you usually respond when faced with trouble?
What results have you seen when you’ve surrendered your troubles to God?
What problems are you facing right now that need the Jehoshaphat approach? Pray for God’s guidance, intervention and protection in the face of these situations. And watch and listen for his answers.