First Response

COVID-19 has changed our lives; we must be honest about that fact. Even after this season passes and we return to somewhat-familiar schedules and routines, the way we navigate crisis situations as well as the details of our everyday lives will be different in the future.

There will not be a complete return to “the way things were before.” Systems, structures, policies, mindsets and people themselves are changing and will continue to do so. If there is a common theme running through conversations, news reports and the hearts of people the world over, it is uncertainty.

“How long will this last?”
“What does the rest of the summer and the remainder of 2020 look like?”
“Should I cancel my plans now or wait to see what happens?”
“What will we look like as a nation when this is over?”

These and countless other questions recirculate daily, and as of now, no solid answers emerge. Though some people may be weathering this season with a high degree of adaptation, for many others, the unknowns are proving to be major challenges. So what do we do when we face this degree of nearly-crushing uncertainty? If we turn to the pages of the Old Testament, we find a single statement that swings our compass needle to true north when the normal landmarks are lost in the fog.

King Jehoshaphat had a problem. Actually, the entire nation of Judah had a problem: their enemies were closing in. The people of Moab and Ammon, long-time adversaries of the people of God, had crept around the southern end of the Dead Sea and had made their way northward to the oasis of Engedi. Because this region lies alongside a rolling mountain range, enemies could move stealthily using the cover offered by the landscape along the western shore of the Dead Sea and be upon the people of Judah without advance warning.

When word of the eminent attack reaches Jehoshaphat, his first response might be the last resort for many people: he prays. He gathers the people together and leads them in a prayer. He calls upon God, and remembers the Lord’s sovereign control, his goodness and his promises (2 Chronicles 20:5-11).

At the end of his prayer, he speaks these words to God: “We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon you” (v. 12). To give you a spoiler alert, God does answer the prayer and deals decisively with the gathered enemies. But let’s not skip ahead to the closure and miss the lesson. Jehoshaphat acknowledges the brutal reality of the situation (“We do not know what to do…”) and pairs it with a biblical response (“…But our eyes are upon you”). This should be our response as well. We must address the reality of the difficulty and uncertainty before us, but follow that admission with the unwavering focus upon God’s sovereignty, goodness and promises.

In other words: your vision must be greater than your struggle.

It’s also important to note why Jehoshaphat could respond in the way he did when facing enemies bent on his destruction. The king immediately and boldly turned to God in the struggle because he sought to live for God daily. Earlier in the book of 2 Chronicles, we find that God was with Jehoshaphat because of his obedience (17:3-4), and “he was courageous in the ways of the Lord” (17:6). Walking by faith in difficulty was not a new idea for him because walking by faith was his everyday practice.

The things you depend on in comfort are the things you default to in crisis. In this season, are the things you have depended upon in the past for peace, hope and guidance starting to show their limits? Or are you finding that the practice of daily faith is revealing Christ to be more than enough in the midst of all uncertainty?

Pray that…  

In every situation, prayer will be our first response and not our last resort. – 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

God would reveal to us anything that we are placing as a priority before seeking him. – Matthew 6:33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

In every uncertainty, we will cling to the unchanging nature of God. – Hebrews 13:8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

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