In 2 Chronicles, there are two battles that are told side by side that note two important components of the Christian life. We can’t afford to only see each of them individually, but to open the eyes of our hearts to both of them in order to more fully see the truth of who we are to be.
2 Chronicles 18 describes the king of Israel, Ahab at the time, fighting in the midst of everything with his army, disguised so that no one would recognize him from the others, considering the whole army of Syria had been ordered to only be after him. The army of Syria thought Jehoshaphat was king of Israel (instead of king of Judah) and fought against him. In the midst of the fight, Jehoshaphat cried out. It says in verse 31: “Jehoshaphat cried out, and the LORD helped him; God drew them away from him.” They realized he was not indeed Ahab and soon scattered. When the story seemed to be looking up, Ahab was struck and immediately realized his fate, asking to be taken off the battlefield. The battle did not cease. He listened and watched the battle, “propped up in his chariot”, and “at sunset he died”. I It was a battle where the army was pulled together to fight hard and fearlessly. Afterward, King Jehoshaphat returned to Judah.
Later in 2 Chronicles 20, Jehoshaphat is once again heading to a discouraging battle and calling out to God, humbling himself at the thought of battle: “In your hand are power and might, so that none is able to withstand you…. 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” (verses 6,12). God answers Jehoshaphat in verse 17: “You will not need to fight in this battle. Stand firm, hold your position, and see the salvation of the LORD on your behalf, O Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed. Tomorrow go out against them, and the LORD will be with you.”
There are two kinds of battle we face in our daily walks: the ones we fight until we are dog-tired and bloody, confused at the ending but surrendering it all to the Lord and the ones we watch and wait with belief for our deliverance.
There is one thing that is required of us in every single type of battle, regardless of what it’s for, whether we will be doing the fighting or God will completely take care of us without our interruptions:
We are always, always called to show up.
We are commanded to stand firm, to hold our position, to remain unafraid regardless of what we can see.
We don’t have to worry about the outcomes, but we still go out to meet the battle. Whether we fight hard or watch for the Lord, in both situations we call upon the Lord to move.
We can’t stand firm in how we want to see the battle becoming, but we can stand firm in the promises of God. That He has got us. We don’t have to fight, love, walk, win, forgive, or surrender alone.
What does standing firm accomplish? As we see in 2 Chronicles 20:29-30, “…The fear of God came on all the kingdoms of the countries when they heard that the LORD had fought against the enemies of Israel. So the realm of Jehoshaphat was quiet, for his God gave him rest all around.”
When we stand firm we can be confident that people will take note. And whether we are the destination or a stepping stone on the way to this realization, people will know that something as amazing as a battle lived like that can only come from God. They will see that even when you didn’t know what to do, your eyes were on Him.
Your battles, beloved? I know that they are tantalizing. Confusing. They make you want to stay home and face your back to them. But the focus is not on the success of your battle, but a dependence on God that lead the nations to see His face. When you get on your face before the LORD, call for help, and stand firm in the promises of God? Overwhelming armies are exchanged for rest all around. Rest is not found in laziness, but reliance. Rest isn’t in numbing yourself away from your one life, but from embracing what God has for you in all that lays ahead. Your battles are complex. Show up to them anyway. Stand firm in the hope of your God being with you. Maybe your battle won’t recede, but your holy rest is coming.