What do you do when you’re so overwhelmed you don’t know what to do?
I’ve been there a few times.
I’ve had moments during this current lockdown where I have felt depressed because I feel alternately frustrated and helpless. 6 million people have been put out of work. Investment portfolios have been ravaged. People are unable to comfort the bereaved because of “social distancing.”
Then, of course, there are those who are getting sick from Coronavirus, (aka COVID-19, aka “The Rona”). We are bombarded with numbers and statistics (unsure of how accurate they are) in the hopes that we will compliantly stay put in our homes and prevent the spread.
Are you there with me? (Well, you know, with me in spirit since we have to be at least 6 feet apart for social distancing?)
So… what do we do when we are helpless? Overwhelmed? Frozen with fear?
King Jehoshaphat of ancient Judah, found himself overwhelmed when three different countries—the Moabites, Ammonites, and Meunites—decided to come pick a fight with Judah. What Jehoshaphat does serves as a model for what we should do.
1. Take Your Fears to God
“Then Jehoshaphat was afraid and set his face to seek the Lord, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah.”
2 Chronicles 20:3 ESV
Jehoshaphat felt fear. This is critical! I hear a lot of waffle about how courageous people are fearless. They aren’t fearless, they’re just willing to face what scares them. We will all feel fear in this life, and not just the fear of the Lord. It is what we do with our fears that distinguishes us from the world.
Do we allow fear to drive us or do we drive our fears to God?
When fear strikes, call upon the Lord!
2. Remember God’s Promises
When Jehoshaphat leads the people in prayer to the Lord, he recounts the promises of God:
“O Lord, God of our fathers, are you not God in heaven?
“You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations.
In your hand are power and might,
so that none is able to withstand you.
“Did you not, our God, drive out the inhabitants of this land before your people Israel, and give it forever to the descendants of Abraham your friend?
“And they have lived in it and have built for you in it a sanctuary for your name, saying, ‘If disaster comes upon us, the sword, judgment, or pestilence, or famine, we will stand before this house and before you—for your name is in this house—and cry out to you in our affliction, and you will hear and save.’
“And now behold, the men of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir, whom you would not let Israel invade when they came from the land of Egypt, and whom they avoided and did not destroy— behold, they reward us by coming to drive us out of your possession, which you have given us to inherit.”
2 Chronicles 20:6-11 ESV
Jehoshaphat recounted God’s power, his deliverance, and His promises of protection. In our moments of anxiety, do we recount God’s grace toward us? Let’s do a quick list:
- The Lord has delivered us from eternal death so that we should no longer be held captive by fear but walk with confident expectation of eternal life.
- Jesus died so we could live.
- He rose to show us His power over death!
- He hears our prayers.
- He loves us with an everlasting love.
- He forgives us when we stumble.
And that’s not all…
How many of your prayers has He answered? How often has help come at just the right moment? When has He filled you with peace that truly passes understanding?
God has promised us riches beyond anything this world has to offer. Remember His goodness towards you!
3. Fix Your Eyes on Him
Verse 12 has mirrored many of my own prayers when I have felt utterly helpless:
“O our God, will you not execute judgment on them? For we are powerless against this great horde that is coming against us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.”
2 Chronicles 20:12 ESV
I cannot cure flu, strep, or the Rona.
I cannot bring back the millions of lost jobs or lost opportunities.
I can call upon my Father—the Maker of Heaven and Earth—to deliver us.
He has the power not only to stop this disease but to transform us for the better through what we have suffered. I may not know what to do, but I can set my heart and mind on His power instead of my own powerlessness.
4. Do the Next Right Thing
After Jehoshaphat’s prayer, the prophet Jahaziel prophesied:
“Thus says the Lord to you, ‘Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed at this great horde, for the battle is not yours but God’s.
Tomorrow go down against them…You will not need to fight in this battle. Stand firm, hold your position, and see the salvation of the Lord on your behalf, O Judah and Jerusalem.’ Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed. Tomorrow go out against them, and the Lord will be with you.””
They had three jobs:
- Go out against them
- Stand firm
- See the salvation of the Lord
The people obeyed God and He fulfilled His promise.
Are we, like Jehoshaphat, doing the next right thing? We can sit and focus on the problem or we can carry out the next task awaiting us. I have this never-ending to-do list. Sometimes I wonder if extra people live in my house because it seems like there is always laundry to wash (or fold) or dishes to wash (or put away) or rooms to clean (again). There are people to pray for, children to teach, plants that need watering, friends that need calling, and a bible that needs reading.
There is always some task—however small—we can accomplish and glorify the Lord.
Whether we live in pandemic or peace, we should set our hearts to seek and serve the Lord.
Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.