Overwhelmed. Outnumbered. Stressed. When looking at situations we face, it doesn’t take much for these feelings to pop up and dominate our thoughts. When we feel this way, we tend to have tunnel vision. We concentrate on the issue at hand and lose track of other things that are going on. Fear and worry use it as an opportunity to move into our thoughts. All the what if’s begin to pop up, and we forget who truly is in control. That’s why it’s good to have a godly friend you can reach out to when you go into this tailspin. They can encourage you, pray for you and help you get your mind right. They help put things back in perspective.
In 2 Chronicles 32, the Assyrian army was destroying everyone in their path. Jerusalem was on their hit list and they were coming for it. King Hezekiah shored up the city’s water supply by building an underground tunnel to channel water in. He built up their defenses and then gathered every man in the city in front of the city gate. The men were overwhelmed, outnumbered and stressed. They knew they were going to be defeated. The king gathered them in order to encourage them and help them get their minds right. All they could focus on was the impending doom on its way. Worry and fear had taken over.
Then in verses 7-8, the king said, “‘Be determined and confident, and don’t be afraid of the Assyrian emperor or of the army he is leading. We have more power on our side than he has on his. He has human power, but we have the Lord our God to help us and to fight our battles.’ The people were encouraged by these words of their king” (GNT). You may need to read that last statement of his again. You have more power on your side than the situation you’re facing has on its. You have the power, protection and promises of God on your side. You don’t fight your battles alone, and He who is in you is greater than he who is against you (1John 4:4). Be encouraged today, pray and get your mind focused on God. You can pull out of the self destructive tail spin and be victorious no matter what you’re facing.
There’s a worship song out that says, “This is how I fight my battles. It may look like I’m surrounded, but I’m surrounded by you.” I love that song because it’s a great reminder of the power of praise. It also reminds me of a time when I was in high school and I came under a spiritual attack that presented itself in a very physical way. A guy I knew attacked me in my home. One of my parent’s friends was there at the house and walked in at just the right moment. She told me to go collect myself. I went to the bathroom and began to praise because I recognized what was happening. When I came out, I was ready for battle, but God had already delivered me from the situation.
The story was similar in 2 Chronicles 20. A massive army came out against Israel. They prayed and fasted Seeking God’s help. They still had to go to battle, but they understood that the battle belonged to the Lord. On the way, the king consulted the people and they decided to send singers out in front of the army who were worshiping God. Verse 22 says that the moment they began to praise, the other army started fight among themselves and killed each other until no one was left. It took Israel 3 full days to gather the plunder left behind by the army. The Israelites were so grateful to God for the victory, they named the place “The Valley of Blessing”.
Verse 26 says, “On the fourth day they gathered in the Valley of Blessing, which got its name that day because the people praised and thanked the Lord there. It is still called the Valley of Blessing today” (NLT). If you’re in a valley facing defeat, spend time praising God. Not only does it invite His presence into your situation, it gets your focus on Him rather than your problem. Praise is a powerful weapon that we must learn to use in our darkest moments. People all throughout the Bible used it (Joshua at Jericho, Paul and Silas in prison, etc), we should be too. You may not feel like praising God in your current situation, but that’s precisely when you need to. There’s power in praise.
We all get into situations where we don’t know what to do. There are also times when we’re in over our heads and fighting battles we can’t win on our own. Should we turn and run? Should we seek counsel? Should we just give up? Should we stay and fight? Just because you’re in one of these situations, it doesn’t mean you’re out of God’s will. So many times our thought process is that when things are going wrong that somehow we are out of God’s will or we’ve done something wrong. While that can be true sometimes, the truth is that if you’re in God’s will, you’re going to be tested, fought against and opposed. God’s desire for each of us is to trust in and rely on Him more than we do. Often the way to a deeper faith is through situations where we can’t do it on our own.
King Jehoshaphat of israel loved God and was instrumental in turning the nation back to Him. He tore down idols, trained the people in God’s Word, returned priests to their roles and sought God. It was during this time that armies from three countries united against him. He was terrified by the size of the army, but instead of being paralyzed, He sought God through fasting and prayer. He then encouraged others to fast and pray with him. In 2 Chronicles 20:12, he finished his prayer with, “We do not know what to do, but we are looking to you for help” (NLT). This is the key. So many others, ourselves included, do everything we can first, then we seek God for help. When we seek God first (and His Kingdom), then we will receive wisdom, favor, help and victory.
God responded to King Jehoshaphat the way He responds to us. In verse He said, “Do not be afraid! Don’t be discouraged by this mighty army, for the battle is not yours, but God’s.” I have to wonder how many times we try to fight God’s battles thinking they’re our own. When we seek God, and wait for His reply, we’ll know which are His and which are ours. In both cases, God expects us to dress for battle and show up to the fight. Sometimes He delivers victory while we watch, and other times He asks us to fight and He supernaturally gives us the victory. Whatever insurmountable thing you’re facing today is no match for God. Seek Him through fasting and prayer. Ask Him what to do, then listen for His voice. Sometimes He’ll speak through His Word, sometimes through others and sometimes through His still, small voice. No matter how pressing the situation is, there’s always time to seek God first for wisdom.
Michael W. Smith wrote a simple, but powerful song. It’s lyrics only contain two sentences, but they speak volumes. The song says, “This is how I fight my battles. It may look like I’m surrounded, but I’m surrounded by you.” To me, it’s a great reminder in those moments when I’m overwhelmed, feel alone in the battle and it looks like I’m about to get crushed. When you’re staring down odds that are stacked against you and it feels easier to give up rather than to keep fighting, this song reminds me who I’m really surrounded by. It reminds me that if God is for me, who can be against me.
After the Israelites left Egypt, God decided to set a trap for Pharaoh. He had them turn back and camp at a place that had them appear lost. When Pharaoh took the bait and pursued them, they were trapped against the Red Sea with no where to go. Pharaoh’s army surrounded them and they were afraid. They forgot who they were really surrounded by. In Exodus 14:15, Moses said, “Don’t be afraid! Stand your ground, and you will see what the Lord will do to save you today” (GNT). The Lord split the Red Sea In two and destroyed Pharaoh’s army.
You may feel all alone and trapped by your situation today, but I believe the Lord is telling us to stand our ground. The Amplified Bible describes standing your ground as, “Be Firm, confident and undismayed.” Take your eyes off of the things you feel surrounded by and look at God. He’s greater than anything you’re facing and is surrounding you now. Rest in His presence and stand your ground. Your victory isn’t dependent on you. It’s God who fights our battles, but we must stand firm with the Armor of God found in Ephesians 6. Don’t forget it may feel like you’re surrounded, but you’re surrounded by God.
In 2 Chronicles 20, several armies joined together to attack Judah (lower Israel in the divided kingdom). King Jehoshaphat was terrified and not sure what to do when he heard the news. He immediately sent out word to all the towns to send people to Jerusalem to fast and pray. While they were assembled, he prayed aloud for everyone to hear. In verse 12, he prayed something that is key for all of us to pray in such situations. He said, “We do not know what to do, but we look to you for help” (GNT).
Then, the Spirit of the Lord came on a Levite named Jahaziel. He spoke several things to them, but the part I want to focus on comes from verse 15. He said, “The Lord says you must not be discouraged or be afraid… The battle depends on God, not on you.” That should offer relief to you and I. The battles we are facing don’t depend on our ability, but God’s. We don’t have to be afraid of what we are facing because our God is bigger and more powerful.
The Israelites had to show up to the battle in order to win it according to the prophesy. The same is true for us. To calm his men down, King Jehoshaphat told them, “Put your trust in the Lord your God, and you will stand your ground. Believe what His prophets tell you, and you will succeed.” Faith is more than just showing up for the battle. It’s trusting what God says despite what you see. If we want success, we have to trust His report more than what our eyes and others tell us.
What happened next is incredible and also a great lesson for us. The king ordered that they praise the Lord for the victory before the battle! When they began to praise, it threw the enemy into a panic and they defeated themselves. They renamed the valley “Baracah” which means the valley of praise. Praise is one of our most powerful weapons. We need to use it before our battles because God dwells in the praises of His people. God can turn your valley of fear and desperation to a valley of praise if you will look to Him, depend on His ability, show up for the battle, and praise Him.
In 2 Chronicles 14, the Ethiopians brought a million man army up against Israel. King Asa only had about half of that. He didn’t wait for the Battle to come to them either. He rallied his troops and went out to meet the Ethiopian army. After he got to the battlefield, he prayed, “O GOD, you aren’t impressed by numbers or intimidated by a show of force once you decide to help: Help us, O GOD; we have come out to meet this huge army because we trust in you and who you are. Don’t let mere mortals stand against you!” (MSG) The next verse says that the Lord defeated the Ethiopian army right in front of Asa.
As I read this story, I was reminded that many times when we look at the battles we face, we are outnumbered, outgunned, and often surrounded with seemingly no way out. I’m sure Asa’s scouts told him how big the Ethiopian army was, but he still showed up for battle. Half of any your victory is simply showing up for the battle. When everything inside screams run, we’ve got to show up or we’ll miss seeing what God can and will do. If we want to be victorious, we can’t run from our problems. We’ve got to face them head on.
The other thing I was reminded of is that our battles are not our own. Asa fully trusted God to bring the victory. He didn’t look at the battlefield through his eyes. He saw it through God’s eyes. When he prayed, he already saw the victory because he trusted in what God would do. You and I need to change the lenses that we look at things through. Victory isn’t brought about by our might or our power, but by God’s Spirit. You shouldn’t be intimidated by how big your problems are. They should be intimidated by how big our God is. Show up, pray and watch God fight for you.
At church, we’ve been singing Michael W. Smith’s song “This is How I Fight My Battles”. It’s a simple song, but it’s powerful. One of the lines says, “It may look like I’m surrounded, but I’m surrounded by you.” As we sing that song, it reminds me of when Elisha’s servant walked outside one morning and saw they were surrounded by an army. He called for Elisha who came outside and said, “Don’t worry about it. There’s more with us than there are with them. Lord, open his eyes to see.” (2 Kings 6:17)
I also think of times in my life where I’ve been surrounded by turmoil, heartbreak and relentless attacks. Even when that period seemed like it would never end, God would surround me with people who would pray for me, encourage me and help me to stay in the battle. When all seemed lost, God never left me. He surrounded me with His presence and His people when the enemy had surrounded me and tried to take me out.
As you read through the Psalms, David felt that way too. He was chased and trapped in caves by King Saul and the army of Israel at times. Other times it was foreign armies hunting him down trying to take him out. He even writes of family and friends who talk behind his back and want to destroy him. Through it all, he cried out to God because he understood that when the enemy comes in like a flood, the Lord lifts up a standard against him (Isaiah 59:19). God surrounds us in our greatest moments of despair.
Psalm 31:21 says, “Praise the Lord! How wonderfully he showed his love for me when I was surrounded and attacked!” (GNT) It’s not time to give up when you are surrounded- it’s time to look up! There are more with you than there are against you. God shows a His great love for us in the moments where we need it most. We have to learn to take our eyes off of the enemy that is surrounding us and look to God who is surrounding them. You are not alone in your fight. You are surrounded by the Lord Of Hosts and the armies of Heaven.