Have you ever gone through a period of time when everything seemed to be going so well, when progress was being made or you had experienced some great success, and you were excited over the all the good things that were coming your way—and you thought to yourself, “Oh-oh! We’re in for it now!” You’re holding your breath, just waiting for that other shoe to drop.
That has happened often in our lives in the spiritual realm. We can be sure when we are seeing fruit for our labor, and victories are being won for the Lord, that Satan is not going to sit meekly on the sidelines and let it go without trying to shoot us down. The Bible tells us that we are in a spiritual battle and …we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. (Ephesians 6:12)
This week we’ve seen several examples of that in our family, although I’ll only mention one for now. We’ve been rejoicing that the work Fernando and Laurie are doing down in Cuenca is finally underway, and that already they are seeing souls being saved, lives being touched and a body of believers encouraged and excited and growing in the Lord. After months of struggling just to get their family settled and being assaulted by one delay, obstacle and problem after another, finally in this last month they have felt that they are accomplishing the work the Lord called them to do in Ecuador. I just said a few days ago to a couple of people when we were discussing their work, “Just watch. Satan isn’t happy about this. He’ll be throwing something else at them very soon!”
Two days later we found out what it was going to be. They are going to have to move again—for the third time in less than a year. Since the owner of their house lives in the States, they’ve been dealing with his father, Señor Morocho. They came home the other day to find Señor Morocho on their doorstep with the news that his son is planning to sell the house, despite the fact that the Naranjos have a two year lease. Apparently contracts aren’t worth much more than the paper they’re written on down there. Oh, they could take him to court, but Señor Morocho is the one who would have to deal with it, and they’ve been trying to witness to him and don’t want to do anything that would turn him away—and it’s not his fault anyway.
You can’t imagine how disheartening this was when they first heard it. The first move had been hard—moving a family of seven from the United States to Ecuador—emotionally and physically. The second move had been bizarre—being forced to move out of a brand new house because mold was growing out of the walls in every room. Now, after only eight months in a house which is perfect for the family as far as space is concerned, but in which they had had to invest a lot of time and money in order to make it habitable, they are faced with the prospects of having to start all over again. They had just finished a major repair job in which several of the cement walls throughout the house had to be opened in order to replace leaking pipes—and deal with mold again due to the leaky pipes. Laurie had said to the girls just a few days before, “At last, this house is finally beginning to feel like home, isn’t it, girls?” Now they, too, were upset at the thought of having to move again. And on top of everything, they will be forced to spend a huge amount of time and money and energy now on another move just when they need to be using all their resources on this new church work.
A snippet of a verse came to me yesterday when I was thinking about this battle they are going through, and I looked it up to read the whole passage. The part of the verse I remembered was “the battle is not yours, but God’s.” To my surprise I found that it is from II Chronicles 20—the very passage Fernando sat down and read with the family that night when they heard this dismaying news. As I read this chapter, there were several things I drew from it that are so encouraging to realize and remember as we go through spiritual battles of our own. I’d like to share them with you:
II Chronicles 20 gives an account of an alliance of nations (Moab, Ammon and the inhabitants of Mount Seir) marching to war against Judah and King Jehoshaphat. This army was “a great multitude,” we are told, and Jehoshaphat was afraid and called all of Judah together—men, women and even the little children—to fast and pray.
First of all, they acknowledged God’s power and might. And [Jehoshaphat] said, O LORD God of our fathers, art not thou God in heaven? and rulest not thou over all the kingdoms of the heathen? and in thine hand is there not power and might, so that none is able to withstand thee? (vs 6)
Secondly, they acknowledged what He had done for them in the past. Art not thou our God, who didst drive out the inhabitants of this land before thy people Israel, and gavest it to the seed of Abraham thy friend for ever? (vs 7)
Third, they acknowledge that He is their protector. If, when evil cometh upon us, as the sword, judgment, or pestilence, or famine, we stand before this house, and in thy presence, (for thy name is in this house,) and cry unto thee in our affliction, then thou wilt hear and help. (vs 9)
And finally, they acknowledge that they are helpless without Him. O our God, wilt thou not judge them? for we have no might against this great company that cometh against us; neither know we what to do: but our eyes are upon thee. (vs 12)
The Lord answered their prayers. First came His promise: Thus saith the LORD unto you, Be not afraid nor dismayed by reason of this great multitude; for the battle is not yours, but God's. (vs 15) Don’t worry! It’s not your battle, but Mine!
Then came His instructions: Ye shall not need to fight in this battle: set yourselves, stand ye still, and see the salvation of the LORD with you, O Judah and Jerusalem: fear not, nor be dismayed; tomorrow go out against them: for the LORD will be with you. (vs 17) What?! All they had to do was stand fast, be still and watch Him accomplish it?!
Jehoshaphat and Judah did three things then before the battle had even begun. First they worshipped the Lord. And Jehoshaphat bowed his head with his face to the ground: and all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem fell before the LORD, worshipping the LORD. (vs 18)
Second, they went forth believing and trusting God. And they rose early in the morning, and went forth into the wilderness of Tekoa: and as they went forth, Jehoshaphat stood and said, Hear me, O Judah, and ye inhabitants Believe in the LORD your God, so shall ye be established; believe his prophets, so shall ye prosper. (vs 20)
Third, before the battle began, they praised the Lord! And when he had consulted with the people, he appointed singers unto the LORD, and that should praise the beauty of holiness, as they went out before the army, and to say, Praise the LORD; for his mercy endureth for ever. (vs 21) It was while they were singing and praising God that He fought the battle for them, causing the alliance to turn on one another and destroy themselves. And when they began to sing and to praise, the LORD set ambushments against the children of Ammon, Moab, and mount Seir, which were come against Judah; and they were smitten. (vs 22)
The results of this battle? Victory, of course, but also afterwards there were blessings far beyond what they could have dreamed. (…they were three days in gathering of the spoil, it was so much. vs 25) There was thanksgiving. (…on the fourth day…they blessed the LORD. vs 26) There was rejoicing. (Then they returned…to Jerusalem with joy; for the LORD had made them to rejoice over their enemies. vs 27-28) God’s name was glorified among the nations. (And the fear of God was on all the kingdoms… vs 29) There was peace and rest in the Lord. (So the realm of Jehoshaphat was quiet: for his God gave him rest round about. vs 30)
Did you see in each of these points what we can gather for ourselves when it comes to the battles we must face? We begin with prayer, acknowledging that God is our Protector and Defense and that He is great and mighty and powerful. Greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world! We recall in prayer what He has done for us in the past and confess that we not only don’t know what to do, but cannot do anything without Him anyway.
God’s answer to our prayer is “Don’t be afraid! Don’t be dismayed! Don’t worry! Stand fast. Be still and know that I am God. Watch Me fight this battle for it is Mine, not yours!” When we are truly believing and trusting Him, we are free from worry and fear and free, then, to worship and praise Him. The result is victory, for who can stand against Him? And with the victory come blessing, rejoicing, thanksgiving, peace and glory to God!
Prayer and faith are the key. As the old saying goes, Let go and let God… Be encouraged—we do not go through our battles alone. He marches before us, and in Him, victory is sure. Just stand back and watch Him do it!