READ: Job 5:7 – The Christian suffers the same troubles as the unsaved person. But a Christian views them in light of what God wants to teach us.
- Problems are sent our way to make us think.
- Criticism comes our way to get us to check on ourselves.
- Pain comes our way to teach us patience.
- Sorrow pays us a visit to make us sympathetic.
- Disappointments come our way to keep us humble.
- Fear overwhelms us to engender righteousness.
- Difficulties come one after another to teach us to depend on God and have no confidence in the flesh (Philippians 3:3).
Trouble will always come to you at some time, even suddenly. And there will be situations in life that will upset you.
The Lord Jesus Christ knows the sweat, pain, and tears of sorrow (Isaiah 53:3-9), and He ‘feels them’ (Hebrews 4:15).
Your disappointments are His ‘appointments,’ and you cannot escape tribulation (John 16:33). Sometimes it will take prayer, grace, a sense of humour, and the support of friends to get you through your troubles.
READ: 2 Corinthians 11.
You may lose plenty on the way home to Heaven. Paul had more ‘trouble’ in ten years of ministry (Acts 9-20) than the average person has in a lifetime.
A king who needed to take his own advice
READ: 2 Chronicles 19:11 – the king of Judah, Jehoshaphat, encouraged the people about God being near to them.
The Old Testament emphasises practical things. What you believe is important, but you must express what you believe in your daily life. It should show in your behaviour.
The king needed to take his own advice. God often tests you when you are in trouble. You have advised other people in their trouble, and now you must obey your own advice. You have big lessons to learn in life, and you must often learn them by trouble. This is a sad fact.
Jehoshaphat’s reaction to his problem was one of anxiety.
READ: 2 Chronicles 20.
Things were going quite well for this good king. He made mistakes sometimes, but he loved and obeyed God, and he was loyal to Him too. Then there was sudden trouble.
Two countries, which were the king’s neighbours sent their armies. They even got extra military help from other nations. They all came to attack Judah (the land where Jehoshaphat ruled). It was a complete surprise, and he was not prepared at all only having a small army. He knew that the people in Judah could never overcome the enemy. God was their only chance, and if he would help them, then they would succeed.
This was the time when the king needed his own advice, Deal courageously, and the LORD shall be with the good. It was natural for him to be very anxious. Judah had no military strength, and cruel neighbours often attacked them. Now Jehoshaphat’s worst fears were happening. This is what he did when he was so anxious.
He prayed hard
READ: 2 Chronicles 20:3 – he asked the LORD what to do.
Remember: Any kind of trouble can be worthwhile if it brings us nearer to God.
Of course, Jehoshaphat would not choose this trouble for his people, but maybe he would not have prayed so hard if he had not had it? Because he was anxious, he hurried to the place for prayer.
Circumstances may cause pain and despair, but you should not be anxious. You should look at your trouble in a calm way. Look for the good that could come out of it; this can hard to do. The good thing for Jehoshaphat was that his trouble helped him to improve how he prayed.
Do not let anxiety control your thoughts
READ: 2 Chronicles 20:6-12 – Choose to remember God’s goodness in the past.
Jehoshaphat remembered the former days; the wonderful help from God that his people received.
When you are anxious, you may often look at the present; that pain is all you can think about, which then leads you to fearing more troubles in the future. But you should begin by looking back at how good God has been to you in the past. So, why should He forget you now? He was sufficient for you then. He is still the same God now, and He wants to help you today.
Do not forget that God rules
READ: 2 Chronicles 20:6 – God knows about your present difficult situation.
Thinking about how your circumstances have changed can tempt you to be anxious; you wish that you did not have this trouble. Perhaps you fear that something bad is going to happen.
Remind yourself that God rules, and that He is still in control of all life’s situations. Good things can result from this trouble, and it can bring honour to God too. This may seem impossible, because you feel so much pain and despair, but thousands of Christians have proved this truth.
Jehoshaphat did the right thing. He looked back. NOT on his failings, but on all that God had done for him in the past. He looked up to God in Heaven; to Heaven’s resources, which have no limit, and when he realised this, his anxiety began to disappear.
Remember this when you have troubles
God promises to help you in every kind of difficulty. The king stood in the place of prayer, and thought about two great national leaders, Abraham and Solomon, who lived centuries before Jehoshaphat did, and whom God had made promises to and kept.
In your times of trouble, do the same. Think, read, and study the great promises of God for a Christian. Accept and hold onto them, and God will never disappoint you. Jehoshaphat’s prayer was very serious. It was sincere. His trust was in God, so God sent him a message using a man who worked in the Temple.
READ: 2 Chronicles 20:15-17.
Remember God’s promises, and look to Him for help.
You can always thank God for something
Perhaps serious trouble has come to you, and you are feeling in pain and despair. But remember that when things are at their worst, there is always something for which you can thank God.
READ: 2 Chronicles 20:18-19.
The place where they fought the battle became famous. Many years later, people called it The valley of Berachah (20:26, which means blessing). It can be the same for you. You are in a dark valley now, but one day you too will say that it was a valley of blessings; something good will come out of it.
READ: 2 Chronicles 20:21.
This was a strange battle in the valley. They did not put their best soldiers on the frontline, but instead they had a group of singers! They marched out praising the LORD (20:21). The singers sang, and the LORD acted by getting the armies to fight each other instead of Judah.
You may have anxious thoughts and fears, so you should offer your praise to God. David sang a song of praise when he was happy, which is easy to do. But Jehoshaphat sang it on a day when he was afraid, which is a bit more difficult to do.
It is possible that his song was a short copy of David’s prayer. If so, it would give certainty to the soldiers. They would hear the words as they marched behind the singers, and it would have reminded them about their great king David. With God’s help, David defeated the enemy many times, so it would give them comfort and encouragement to hear the song.
Think about the benefits that the king received from his trouble.
- His prayer and friendship with God became better (20:3-5).
- His trust in God became stronger (20:12).
- His understanding of God increased (20:17).
- His love for God increased (20:27, 28).
The story began with the fear of man (20:3), and it ended with the fear of God (20:29). Jehoshaphat’s experience convinced his neighbours. These nations did not know or follow God, but they could see that God was great and good (20:29).
Your reaction to trouble is important as it can convince your friends and neighbours too about how wonderful God is. They can know the God who always loves, and to know Him for themselves.
FOR GROUP/FAMILY DISCUSSION
Are there extra blessings when people come together to ask help of the LORD? (2 Chronicles 20:4). Is group prayer more useful than personal and private prayer?
Jehoshaphat admitted that he was weak – for we have no might against this great company (2 Chronicles 20:12). We might want to do something effective for God too, but should we admit that we are weak?
READ: 1 Corinthians 2:3; 2 Corinthians 12:7-10; 13:4.
Jehoshaphat also admitted that he did not know what to do (2 Chronicles 20:12). We all need God’s advice, but do we only need His help for the major decisions, or for everything in life? How can we understand what is the difference between important things and unimportant things?
Hard times can come suddenly when we do not expect them. Then people can become seriously afraid. They can let things upset them. What causes that to happen?
What does it mean to keep looking at God?
Other Bible characters give us good examples. They encourage us to keep looking at God. Can you name any of them?
READ: Hebrews 11:27; 12:2; Psalms 105:4.
Another leader who loved God helped Jehoshaphat in this emergency. Perhaps we know people who are in times of trouble. How can we help them by what we say?
Could you make a list of the great truths that Jahaziel told the king? (2 Chronicles 20:15-17).
During the battle, the king’s choir sang some familiar words. They come from the book of Psalms. To praise God is a privilege, but do we forget to praise Him in times of trouble?
READ: Psalms 20:21; 1 Chronicles 16:34-36; Psalms 107:1; especially Psalms 136.