Bible Seeds 021: II Chronicles 20

Want to know what to do when your problem is so big you have no solution? King Jehoshaphat gave us a great example to what I call “Jehoshaphat’s Dilemma.”

Jehoshaphat was the King of Judah. He lived in the palace in Jerusalem. A palace is nice, but it’s not necessarily safe when the combined armies of three nations are marching toward it with murder and mayhem on their collective, aggressive minds. Suddenly, everything that seemed so secure became fragile.

Before we look at Jehoshaphat’s solution to his problem, we had best recognize the problem as one we have all faced at one time or another. Perhaps you’re in the middle of Jehoshaphat’s Dilemma right now. You can pretty much be sure of this: Jehoshaphat’s Dilemma is in your future.

The dilemma can be described this way: “I’ve done everything I can to insulate myself from trouble. I have a palace, an army, prestige, and money. I call the shots. I’m the one who knows what to do. I make the decisions, and the people around me expect me to have an answer for everything. I’m the ultimate problem solver. And yet, here I am today with a problem that I am just not able to deal with. None of my preparations have prepared me for this. I don’t know what to do.”

Sometimes we do nothing, hoping the problem will go away. But it usually doesn’t.

Sometimes we panic and do something crazy. We believe that any action is better than inaction.

Sometimes we run and hide. Avoid the problem, or at least avoid its consequences.

Here’s Jehoshaphat’s solution:
“For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.” (II Chronicles 20:12)

STEP ONE
Don’t pretend you can handle a problem you can’t handle. Face reality. Admit your limitations. “We have no power. We do not know what to do.”

STEP TWO
Look at God. “Our eyes are on you.” You can’t get wisdom from God if you’re not giving him your attention. I know I’m speaking figuratively here. In fact, there’s another verse in the Bible that says, “No one has ever seen God.” (I John 4:12) And yet, it’s still appropriate for Jehoshaphat to pray, “Our eyes are on you.” This apparent contradiction is resolved only by the wisdom that comes from the Holy Spirit. I can tell you about it, but only he can teach it to you.

The solution to Jehoshaphat’s Dilemma is easier for us than it was for Jehoshaphat, because we have the example of Jesus. Through the Gospels, we can see God at work. Jesus came to show us the Father.

STEP THREE
Do what God shows you. It may not be logical. In fact, it may look exactly like the path to defeat. How does turning the other cheek lead to victory? How does sacrifice ever become profit? How can we receive by giving up? How can we change the world by becoming its servants? And yet, when we look at God – the creator and owner of all things – this illogical behavior is exactly what we see.
— He gave us free will, knowing that we would break his heart.
— He sent his son to Earth, knowing that we would reject him.
— Jesus washed the disciples’ feet, knowing that they would run away on those nice, clean feet!
Nevertheless, behaving like God is the way out of any problem. But you have to watch him closely, because the way that God acts isn’t natural.

In Jehoshaphat’s case, doing what God showed him meant taking his weak little army and marching straight toward the enemy’s mighty horde. He had to leave the palace and go where the problem was. No more delay.

STEP FOUR
Watch God work. God doesn’t always make you able to do what you couldn’t do. Sometimes, God simply does it for you. This creates a miracle, and we give God the glory and praise for it. When God does give us the ability to fix our own problems, we often speak words of pride instead of words of praise. We should be grateful when we’re unable to solve the problem, because then we’re spared the temptation of pride. We can only express our gratitude to God for the privilege of watching him rescue us.

Father, Jehoshaphat’s Dilemma is my dilemma. I am terrified by the problem I cannot solve. I have no power to face this vast army. I do not know what to do, but my eyes are on you.


(“Bible Seeds” is a series of short articles that come out of my regular Bible reading.)

–Bob Young
[April 7, 2013]

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