Have you ever found yourself in an impossible situation? Like the circumstances just aren’t in your favor, and you don’t know what else to do? Maybe you feel like that right now.
King Asa found himself in a seemingly impossible situation too. Things were going pretty well at first. In 2 Chronicles 14, we read:
“And Asa did what was good and right in the sight of the Lord his God, or he removed the foreign altars and high places, tore down the memorial stones, cut down the Asherim, and commanded Judah to seek the Lord God of their fathers and to comply with the Law and the commandment. He also removed the high places and the incense altars from all the cities of Judah. And the kingdom was undisturbed under him.
“He built fortified cities in Judah, since the land was undisturbed, and there was no one at war with him during those years, because the Lord had given him rest. For he said to Judah, ‘Let’s build these cities and surround them with walls and towers, gates and bars. The land is still ours because we have sought the Lord our God; we have sought Him, and He has given us rest on every side.’ So they built and prospered.
“Now Asa had an army of three hundred thousand from Judah, carrying large shields and spears, and 280,000 from Benjamin, carrying shields and wielding bows; all of them were valiant warriors.” – 2 Chronicles 14:2-8 (NASB)
That sounds good, right? Asa did what was right, he and the people sought after God, and he strengthened their cities and prospered as the Lord gave him rest. Good stuff!
After a time, though, the peace, prosperity, and preparation were interrupted by a large army headed their way:
“Now Zerah the Ethiopian went out against them with an army of a million men and three hundred chariots, and he came to Mareshah.” – 2 Chronicles 14:9 (NASB)
A… million? Oh dear. 580,000 men seemed like a lot until that…
It seems like an impossible situation, doesn’t it? King Asa knew the odds on his own weren’t great, but it’s what he did with that information that makes this story cool:
“So Asa went out to meet him, and they drew up in battle formation in the Valley of Zephathah at Mareshah. Then Asa called to the Lord his God and said, ‘Lord, there is no one besides You to help in the battle between the powerful and those who have no strength; help us, Lord our God, for we trust in You, and in Your name have come against this multitude. Lord, You are our God; do not let man prevail against You.’” – 2 Chronicles 14:10-11 (NASB)
Sure enough, God yet again shows His strength on behalf of those who put their trust in Him:
“So the Lord routed the Ethiopians before Asa and before Judah, and the Ethiopians fled.” – 2 Chronicles 14:12 (NASB)
Isn’t it kind of ironic how God gave Judah rest and time to build up their armies, but then the first big challenge we read about is one that their new strength still wasn’t enough for? I love those reminders that even our strongest efforts and most ambitious goals are nothing compared to what God can do.
With all of the “name it and claim it” teachings that have gone around these days, I always feel the need to mention this caveat when talking about God’s faithfulness: When we talk about God’s faithfulness, we also need to keep in mind that faithfulness doesn’t equal giving us everything we want.
That’s not what Christianity’s about, but that doesn’t mean Christianity is miserable or depressing. It’s actually really freeing and life-giving when it’s studied in truth instead of the distorted teachings that sometimes disguise themselves as truth. The truth about life is that sometimes things don’t go the way we would like them to, but God is faithful to lead us through it all when we trust Him. It’s always incredible to look back and see just how intentional each step of our journey is, even when the steps don’t make sense to us at the time!
There are a few lessons from King Asa’s story that are applicable today regardless of what our situation is and how it turns out:
1. Sometimes our strength isn’t enough, even after we’ve worked really hard to do better, be better, and be more disciplined. It can feel easier to work, work, work, instead of learning to let go and trust God, but letting go and putting our lives in His hands is exactly what we need to do. Discipline is important, but the focus of our discipline needs to be in surrender and obedience to God, not trying to work our way out of needing God.
2. Tough times come! We know this. When they do come, don’t lose heart. There is testimony after testimony both in the Bible and in modern times of situations that were turned completely around because the person waited on God. When tough times come, don’t give up.
3. We don’t need to freak out when our circumstances look bleak (although sometimes that’s easier). Emotions are tricky things, but as we grow in our walk with Christ, we learn that our emotions don’t dictate the outcome of our situations. Even when it feels impossible, it can still turn out for good. Instead of losing hope, we can go to God with any and everything, trusting that He will guide us as we turn to Him.
4. God can be trusted. No matter what the situation looks like, God is there with those who wait on Him. Ask Him for strength, ask Him for wisdom, and ask Him to use this moment to draw you closer to Him.
And one more:
5. The example that parents set matters.
Maybe you remember when we looked at a similar passage a couple years ago that involved King Asa’s son, Jehoshaphat. (That post was actually written exactly 2 years ago this week… that wasn’t planned!) Jehoshaphat also found himself in an impossible situation in 2 Chronicles 20, but instead of relying on his own strength, he turned to God when he was afraid:
“…For we are powerless before this great multitude who are coming against us; nor do we know what to do, but our eyes are on You.” – 2 Chronicles 20:12b (NASB)
King Asa didn’t stay committed to God for the rest of his life, but the years that he was committed appear to have had an impact on his son. Consequently, the people of Judah were led to victory through King Asa’s son’s decision to turn to God in a time of trouble.
Throughout life’s ups and downs, we have a steady rock to stand on. Be encouraged!
Here’s to our journey.