21 Days of Prayer and Fasting: Day 17

Prayer
Day 17: May 20, 2017: Our Eyes Are Upon You

2 Chronicles 20:9-12: 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.’ 10 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— 11 behold, they reward us by coming to drive us out of your possession, which you have given us to inherit. 12 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.”

 After confessing God’s great power (in verses 5-8) Jehoshaphat then admitted how weak and powerless he and the people of Judah were: “For we are powerless against this great horde that is coming against us.” Powerless. That is how we often feel when the storms of life are threatening to overwhelm us. We feel that there is nothing we can do to turn the tide, nothing we can do to change the circumstances, and nothing we can do to make sense of the confusion and fear.

Yet even when we feel powerless, there is an anchor which can keep us steady in the midst of the storm. Jehoshaphat expressed his trust in this anchor in his next breath: “We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.”

“We do not know what to do.” This is a prayer we all need to pray. Instead of attempting to fool God and ourselves by acting like we do know what to do, we need to openly confess our weakness, uncertainty, and need. God wants us to depend totally on him, and so he loves it when his people admit that a situation is totally beyond their own wisdom and strength.

“But our eyes are on you.” Jehoshaphat and the people of Judah looked steadfastly to God to be their defender against the invading foreign armies. Their own sense of powerlessness led them directly to God’s throne, where all true power resides. We must also fix our hope on God for deliverance. We must also pray “our eyes are on you.”

One of the great messages of this entire account in 2 Chronicles 20 is that God fights for his people (as we will see in the next few devotions). As followers of Jesus our response to hardship and hostility can never be to take matters into our own hands.

The apostle Paul wrote to the church in Rome: “Repay no one evil for evil… To the contrary, ‘if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.’ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Rom. 12:17, 20-21). When we encounter opposition and hostility our responsibility is to continue to do good and to show love – even to our enemies. When it comes to the judgment of our enemies – we are to leave that in God’s hands. Paul also wrote, “Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord’” (Romans 12:19). In other words, we are to trust God to be the judge. We are to trust God to fight for us.

Jehoshaphat didn’t say, “Boy, we are going to teach those Moabites and Ammonites and Meunites a lesson. We are going to make them pay. They will be sorry they ever set foot in the land of Judah.” Rather, Jehoshaphat prayed and said, “O our God, will you not execute judgment upon them?” He left the judgment in God’s hands. He trusted God to fight for and deliver his people.

Pursuing intimacy with God in the midst of hard times requires this kind of abandonment of ourselves into the hands of God. Peter wrote of how Jesus conducted himself during his suffering: “He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly” (1 Peter 1:22-23). Then Peter counseled Christians to follow the example of their Lord: “Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name. For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? And ‘If the righteous is scarcely saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?’ Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good” (1 Peter 4:16-19).

Take time now to entrust your soul to your faithful Creator. This prayer can help you get started: “O Lord, I often do not know what to do. I am often afraid and uncertain. But Lord, my eyes are upon you. You are my shield. You are my defender. You are my deliverer. I call upon you to execute your justice, O Lord. I know that Jesus trusted you through his suffering, and I want to do the same thing. I commit myself to you, and I ask you to do what is best for my good, and for your kingdom and glory. In the name of Jesus, Amen.”

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