The world is all about power today – engines, computers, human bodies, even financial power. We all want to be enabled, enriched and empowered. We see that as the solution to all we face, the way to victory over life’s difficulties and our safeguard against whatever may come. Should it surprise us, then, that God’s way is totally opposite of the world’s way?
We say that in order to have victory over temptations and trials we need to have more power, but God says the way to victory is recognizing that we are powerless. As long as we feel we have some ability left we will rely on it and not Him.
In 2 Chronicles 20 we read about a time the Ammonites and Moabites sent their vast armies against Jerusalem. The Jews were far outnumbered, and their weapons were quite inferior as well. Things looked hopeless for them. King Jehoshaphat called for a national fast and time of prayer. Everyone gathered and he prayed one of the greatest prayers in the Bible (II Chronicles 20:6-12). He begins by declaring God’s greatness: “O Lord, God of our fathers, are you not the God who is in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. Power and might are in your hand, and no one can withstand you”(verse 6). Then he reminds God of the promises he made to take care of his people when they were in trouble. Then he tells God, “We’re in big trouble now!” He freely admits, “we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us” (verse 12). And he concludes with this simple confession: “We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon you” (verse 12). God answered through a prophet who passed on His message to stand still and see the deliverance of the Lord.
The next day Jehoshaphat put the male singers at the head of the army and sent them out to do battle. They literally stood still and watched as the Lord sent confusion into the enemy ranks. The Moabites and Ammonites started killing each other by mistake. There was a great slaughter followed by the plundering of the supplies left behind by the enemy soldiers. The story ends with the army gathering for a praise celebration, giving thanks to God for the victory he provided. Jehoshaphat’s prayer was the key to victory, not just that he prayed but what he prayed. When he prayed, “We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon you,” he was really saying, “Lord, we’re just a bunch of pathetic losers. And if you don’t help us, we’re sunk.”
He’s right! We’re all pathetic losers in need of God’s grace. The problem is that we don’t realize our powerlessness and helplessness and therefore think we can handle things on our own instead. The fifth petition of the Lord’s Prayer is meant for us when we recognize our total dependence on Him for everything. “Lead us not into temptation” (Matthew 6:13) expresses our need of God’s help to make it through each day, for on our own we can never stand.
Are you trying to face and issue or fight a battle in your own strength? Commit the situation to the Lord. Do your best but make sure you have an attitude of dependence on Him and an awareness that without His help you will fail. Agree with Paul who so aptly wrote, “when I am week I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:10).
(Written by Jerry Schmoyer, 2014. You can find more of his writings at http://www.christiantrainingonline.org/. If you have questions or suggestions feel free to contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org)