Jacob's Ladder Bible Studies
Praise God in the Storm:
How to Experience Peace and Gratitude Amidst Adversity
Part Two: Living God’s Word
Applying 2 Chronicles 20 to everyday life
Last month, we started Part 1 of our Bible Study series on 2 Chronicles 20 titled “Confronting a Crisis with God-given Confidence”, where we analyzed the biblical account of King Jehoshaphat of Judah’s triumph over a triple enemy threat through God’s divine intervention and his trusting of the Lord.
Aware that he was unable to ensure the survival of his people by his own strength, Jehoshaphat fasted and sought the Lord and encouraged the rest of Judah to do so. The reassurance and encouragement they received from God gave Jehoshaphat and his people tremendous peace, God-given confidence, and faith to face their enemy on the battlefield, whilst praising Him in advance for a victory unseen, yet promised by God.
Trials and tribulations are unfortunately a certainty in this world (John 16:33). However, we do not need to live in fear and worry when confronted with challenging circumstances. Instead, we can do what Jehoshaphat and the Judeans did and be encouraged by God’s promises of deliverance, which will increase our faith and bring us tremendous peace, independent of how our current situation appears.
In Part 2 of our Bible Study, we want to explore how we can apply the lessons of 2 Chronicles 20 to our own lives; in particular, how we can praise God in the storm, experience peace amidst adversity, and show gratitude for the victories that He gives us.
Seek God in Times of Times of Trouble
As we stated in our introduction, we all have trials and tribulations to contend with. Jehoshaphat’s adversity came in the form of a military threat from the Moabites, the Ammonites, and the Meunites. Today, our “ites” may take the form of sickness, financial issues, unemployment, fertility problems, or a family feud, just to name a few.
When such problems arise, it is perfectly normal to feel afraid and worried: Fear was also Jehoshaphat’s initial reaction after receiving the intelligence that the enemy triune was about to strike.
However, we need to remember that we have a Sovereign God, whom we can call on for help in our time of need. Our strength and abilities are finite, but God’s power and might are infinite.
Therefore, like Jehoshaphat, we must determinedly push our fears aside, take our eyes of our current trouble, and instead, lift our eyes to God and seek Him (2 Chronicles 20:3). In His presence, we can present our petitions to Him.
How do we seek God’s presence?
We can do this by praying and fasting, both of which we will now look at more closely.
The Power of Prayer
Prayer is an essential practice of a believer’s walk with God. It is a communication with our Father that is simultaneously an act of worship. By reverently seeking God and expressing our needs, sharing our worries, and giving our thanks, we are acknowledging that He is our Provider, our Healer, and our Shepherd, who guides us through the hills and valleys of life.
Prayer gives us peace when we are anxious and fortifies us with strength when confronted with trials. Praying also helps us to know God on a deeper level, which assists us in aligning His will to our lives. It invites the Holy Spirit to intercede in our daily decisions, as well as comfort us when we need support.
Prayer involves not only us talking, but also listening for the answers that God provides to our prayer requests. For that reason, it is always useful to have a writing pad and a pen handy, when praying.
As we can see in 2 Chronicles 20:15-17, prayer instigates miracles. Not only, did Jehoshaphat and the people of Judea receive consolation from God in response to the threat upon their lives, but God promised them that He would fight their enemies for them and prevail.
Of course, God can work miracles even when we don’t pray. However, it is evident that many biblical miracles are a direct result of prayer. For example, in John 11:41-42, Jesus prayed to His Father at Lazarus’ tomb and the latter was consequently resurrected. In Daniel 6:19-22, God not only saved Daniel from being eaten by lions, but King Darius of Babylon issued a royal decree that his people should honor God Daniel 6:25-27.
There is no doubt that there is power in prayer – Jesus confirms this in Matthew 18:18-20:
“Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. Again, truly I tell you, if two of you agree on earth about anything you ask, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven.
For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.”
God loves it when we talk to Him through prayer. You don’t need to mechanically recite some rote-learned text or be anxious about saying “the right thing”. Instead, God wants us to talk to Him from the heart with thanksgiving:
„Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”
Just like you talk confidently and trustingly to your biological father, in the same way you can talk to God. After all, He is our spiritual Father!
Additionally, we can take Jehoshaphat’s prayer to God in 2 Chronicles 20:5-12 as inspiration for how we can structure our own prayers. We examined Jehoshaphat’s prayer in Part 1 of our Bible Study on 2 Chronicles 20, however here is a short break-down of it:
1. Acknowledgement of God’s Sovereign power
2. Remind God of His help in the past
3. God’s presence is holy and a place where you’re confident He will answer your prayers
4. Express your needs to God
5. Thank God in advance for His help and vindication
6. Worship God with praise and thanksgiving, while you wait for His response.
The Question About Fasting
Fasting is a practice, which can propagate revelation, instill humility, and forge a deeper relationship with God. In 2 Chronicles 20:3, Jehoshaphat proclaimed a nation-wide feast in Judah before seeking God’s help in prayer. Consequently, Jehoshaphat and his people received God’s promise of victory from Judah’s enemies, which fortified the Judean’s faith.
Despite the testimony of 2 Chronicles 20 and other biblical accounts, fasting remains a topic that some Christians remain unsure about. Therefore, let’s begin by defining what fasting is.
What is Fasting?
Fasting is a temporary abstinence from food or something we particularly enjoy doing, in order to take the focus of ourselves and instead, place our attention on God.
Whereas we eat food out of hunger, we convert that physical hunger into a spiritual hunger that promotes spiritual growth and deepens our relationship with God. Fasting is a personal sacrifice that expresses our heartfelt subservience and reverence for our Lord.
It is designed to stretch us, and at the same time, bring revelation of God’s workings in our lives. Additionally, fasting shows God how much we need Him and that we trust Him first and foremost.
Why Do Christians Fast?
Christians fast for many reasons. Some fast regularly as part of their faith practice, others fast when seeking the Holy Spirit’s guidance (Acts 13:2-3), or when they plead for God’s intervention, such as Jehoshaphat and the Judeans did in 2 Chronicles 20:3. Others fast for healing (2 Samuel 12:16-17) or as an act of repentance (Jonah 3:3-5), and much more.
Fasting also helps you to unbind yourself from the factors that tie you to this world; therefore, some believers fast in order to break spiritual bonds in their lives such as addiction, pornography, or illness.
Fasting in Preparation for the Bridegroom to Return
In Luke 5:33-39, Jesus tells the Pharisees a parable about fasting in the form of a wedding where He is the bridegroom. When the bridegroom is present, the wedding guests honor Him with merrymaking. You cannot expect the guests to fast during a celebration! In this way, we have experienced the ministry of Jesus on earth and have rejoiced in His presence.
However, the Bridegroom must go away to prepare a place for us (John 14:3), but will return for His bride. In Hebrew, the word for bride is “Kallah”, and is referring to the Bride of Christ, which is the church, of which Jesus is the cornerstone (Ephesians 2:19-20).
We as believers are the Church – we are the Bride of Christ (2 Corinthians 11.2)!
Therefore, in the same way a bride waits longingly for her groom and prepares herself for his return, so too, do we spiritually prepare ourselves in joyous expectation for Jesus’ return to earth by fasting.
Do Christians Have to Fast?
So, now that we have established what fasting is, the next question is, “Do l have to fast as a believer of Christ?”
What is important to remember is that God loves us unconditionally. His love for you is not based on how much you read your Bible, how often you pray, or whether you choose to fast or not. He loves you because you are His child, and there is nothing that you can do or can’t do that will cause Him to take that love away from you (Romans 8:38-39).
God wants us to live an abundant life (John 10:10). For that reason, He has provided us with teachings and guidelines in the form of the Bible, that are designed to give us joy, promote productivity, give us spiritual victory, and deepen our relationship with Him. Fasting is one of those teachings that God encourages us to do in order to experience all this and more.
For that reason, Jesus preached on the topic of fasting in Matthew 6:16-18 by using the conjunction “when” you fast, instead of “if” you fast.
Therefore, if you haven’t tried fasting before, it is worth trying it, for what you gain from it exceeds the temporary discomfort of abstinence.
What if Health Issues Prevent Me from Fasting?
If you’re unable to abstain from food due to health reasons, you can still fast by renouncing something temporarily which distracts you from spending time with God, such as social media or watching TV.
How long you fast for is something you should ask God in prayer, especially if it is food related. You don’t want to harm your body by depriving it too long of nourishment, especially fluids. Fasting also doesn’t need to be for the duration of an entire day/days: You can choose to fast for a few hours in the mornings for a few days, which is akin to missing out on a meal.
Are There Different Types of Fasts?
There are different types of fasts one can do which are biblical based. If you’re interested in learning more about them, this article should prove quite useful for you and also entails some great tips on how to fast.
Step Out in Faith
As part of His assurance of victory against the upcoming enemy invasion, God declared to Jehoshaphat and his people that they would not be participating in the battle themselves. Rather, God would be fighting for them (2 Chronicles 20:17).
However, in order to see this promise materialize, the Judeans still needed to stand on the battlefield and face their enemy. This required them to step out in faith – literally – and march to the end of the valley at the Ascent of Ziz, where the battle was to take place. It must have been a difficult task for a skilled army to step onto a battlefield without the intention of warring – most likely they weren’t even carrying weapons. However, God kept His promise and gave the Judeans victory without them losing a single drop of blood (2 Chronicles 20:24).
2 Corinthians 5:7 states the importance of putting our faith in God over that which is tangible or adheres to human logic:
“For we walk by faith, not by sight.”
Hebrews 11:1 also defines faith as a conviction that is based on our trust in God, rather than what we can see:
“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”
Stepping out in faith when we don’t know the outcome of a situation is certainly not an easy thing to do, but it is a heart attitude that instigates a victorious Christian life. For when we stop relying on our own capabilities, on other people, and even on institutions, and instead trust God, we can be confident that He is solving our problems and taking care of what matters most to us, which frees us to live a peaceful, joyful, and fulfilled life.
There are times when we do step out in faith and suddenly become afraid and lose our confidence in God – that is human nature. However, rest assured, when those times occur, God is always there to catch us.
That’s what Jesus did for Peter when he stepped out of a boat during a storm and walked on water towards Jesus in Matthew 14:28-29. Suddenly intimidated by the strong winds, Peter began to sink and called out to Jesus, “Lord, save me!” (Matthew 14:30). Jesus immediately responded by stretching out His hand and catching him.
How can you step out in faith? By recognizing what fears you, and handing it over to God (1 Peter 5:7). Having done that, surrender the outcome to Him and trust that He will turn whatever is against you and make it work out for your good (Romans 8:28). And in the meantime, live your life and enjoy the daily blessings that God gives you: your family, enjoying a laugh with friends, the smell of freshly mown grass, or that first morning cup of freshly brewed coffee!
Therefore, take an example from Jehoshaphat and the Judeans and step out of your comfort zone. It doesn’t matter if you don’t see how your situation is going to work out; instead, trust that God already has a plan for you that He will bring to fruition, for He is the only One, who can make the impossible, possible (Matthew 19:26)!
Worship While You Wait
In a Bible Study group l attended once, a lady was asked what she does after she prays.
“I wait”, she answered.
This response resonated with me. I don’t know about you, but sometimes l get caught up in my pray petitions: I keep praying and asking and thanking God, however, l don’t sit back and expectantly watch out for Him to answer my prayers.
Since applying this wisdom into my own prayer practices, l have not only developed patience in trusting God’s timing over my own, but l have also experienced another facet of my relationship with God: That He encourages me, consoles me, and teaches me to rely on Him in that interim period between my petitions and their manifestations.
Furthermore, in order to deepen my relationship with God in my waiting period, l take inspiration from Jehoshaphat and the people of Judah by worshiping and praising Him:
“Then Jehoshaphat bowed down with his face to the ground, and all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem fell down before the Lord, worshiping the Lord. And the Levites, of the Kohathites and the Korahites, stood up to praise the Lord, the God of Israel, with a very loud voice.”
How do l worship and praise God? I put on worship music and sing and dance loudly around my home. I even march around clapping my hands and praising God verbally for all that He has done and will do, just like l can imagine how Jehoshaphat and his people did on the battlefield:
“When he had taken counsel with the people, he appointed those who were to sing to the Lord and praise him in holy splendor, as they went before the army, saying,
‘Give thanks to the Lord,
for his steadfast love endures forever.’”
If you want to find peace and deepen your reliance on God with the outcome and timing of your prayers, I suggest that you try worshiping Him while you wait. It is also proves to be a powerful ignition to set supernatural events in motion. When the Judeans started worshiping God on the battlefield, the triune enemy turned on themselves and destroyed each other!
„As they began to sing and praise, the Lord set an ambush against the Ammonites, Moab, and Mount Seir, who had come against Judah, so that they were routed. For the Ammonites and Moab attacked the inhabitants of Mount Seir, destroying them utterly; and when they had made an end of the inhabitants of Seir, they all helped to destroy one another.”
God Fights Your Battles
When confronted with a difficult situation, we often go into combat mode.
Our battle mindset is initiated by fear, which turns into worry. In response, we retreat into our mental war room to strategize how we are going to solve our problem. Our minds grind and groan under the stress of testing out possible scenarios, all of which are unpredictable in their outcome, due to our subjective and limited understanding of the situation.
Once we have settled upon what we believe to be the best possible tactic, we plunge into a course of action in the desperate hope that our plotting and planning will work out.
However, what if l told you that God has promised us that He will fight our battles for us?
What if l told you, that He encourages us – nay, commands us – to rest, while He takes on that which has come against us?
Look at what Exodus 14:14 states:
“The Lord will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace and remain at rest.”
I have chosen the AMPC version specifically, as it illustrates beautifully how God assures us that we can be at peace and rest, while He fights for us. This means, that we can let go of worry and fear, and say goodbye to the mental carousel of planning and plotting that keeps us up at night.
Instead, we can enjoy a peaceful, worry-free life, being confident in God that He is working in our situation and is offering a solution, which is better than anything we could have ever dreamed of achieving with our own finite capabilities.
The people of Judah experienced this promise from God in 2 Chronicles 20:17:
“This battle is not for you to fight; take your position, stand still, and see the victory of the Lord on your behalf, O Judah and Jerusalem. Do not fear or be dismayed; tomorrow go out against them, and the Lord will be with you.”
What a relief for the Judeans to know that not only was their survival assured, but God was going to fight their enemy on their behalf without any fear of bloodshed or loss of life! How at loss for words they must have felt, and how grateful!
Go Get Your Blessings
When the people of Judah arrived to the place where their enemy had fallen, there awaited them “livestock in great numbers, goods, clothing, and precious things, which they took for themselves until they could carry no more” 2 Chronicles 20:25. In fact, there were so many spoils to be taken, that the Judeans needed 3 days to move the entire loot back to Jerusalem!
In the same way, God is preparing blessings for us; however, we need to do our part and go get them.
In the Judean’s case, this meant literally stepping out in faith onto a battle they were instructed to not participate in. In our case, it may mean starting that side business from home, asking that girl to marry you, or answering a call to ministry that God has laid on your heart.
God get your blessings!
Keep Honoring God After The Victory
After God has answered our call for help, it is important that we keep on honoring Him.
Firstly, we must remember to thank God for all that He has made possible. In Luke 17:11-19, Jesus healed 10 lepers on His way to Jerusalem, however only one of them returned to thank Him.
Let us not be like the 9, who didn’t offer their gratitude!
Judah knew the importance of giving continual thanks. After they had claimed their war booty, Jehoshaphat and the entire nation entered Jerusalem with musical fanfare, and headed straight to the temple to show further gratitude to the Lord for His help and victory.
Secondly, we need to keep remembering God’s past acts of goodness, even after our immediate threat has passed. If we don’t, we can forget the mercy and might of God and return to worrying and becoming fearful when the next challenge arises, which it unfortunately inevitably will. We might also start to rely on our own abilities instead of seeking the One whose abilities supersede ours, which can lead to unwise decisions and unwanted consequences.
Jehoshaphat experienced this for himself in 2 Chronicles 20:35-37, when he attempted another ungodly alliance with Ahab through his son and successor, King Ahaziah of Israel. The two entered a partnership to build ships for trade in Tarshish. Fortunately, Jehoshaphat heeded the advice of the prophet Eliezer, and he withdrew from the agreement, for God destroyed all of the ships.
The Israelites who entered into the land of Canaan knew the importance of remembering God’s previous miracles and acts of provision. After God had taken them safely across the Jordan river, they collected 12 stones from the waters to represent the 12 tribes of Israel. On the Canaan side of the Jordan river, in Gilgal, the Israelites set up these 12 stones as a memorial for future generations to remember how the Lord dried up the Red Sea and the Jordan river for them to cross into the Promised Land, as well as serve as a constant reminder of His power and might.
So, how can we remember God’s past acts of goodness and provision?
In our family, we keep a “Miracle Book”, which is a journal where we record all the acts of goodness that God has done in our lives. For further suggestions, click here to read an article we wrote on this topic.
You can also set up your own memorial stones by collecting stones from the beach or the forest and placing them on your windowsill or any other visible place in your home.
We hope you enjoyed reading Part 2 of our Bible Study on 2 Chronicles 20, and that it gave you some revelation on how to apply the biblical lessons of this chapter into your everyday lives.
Next month, we will be posting our third and final part of our Bible Study, where we delve even deeper into the biblical themes discussed in Parts One and Two for private or group study purposes.
So, stay tuned for that!
If, in the meantime, you haven’t yet read Part 1 of our Bible Study on 2 Chronicles 20, you can read it here.
Stay safe and blessed!
Madeline Kalu is a Christian writer and the co-founder of Jacob’s Ladder Blog and Faith Love Life Designs. She was born in England, was raised in Australia, and currently lives in Germany with her husband, Solomon.
Madeline is in recovery from burnout, chronic depression, and anxiety. She believes that God can take life’s adversities and work them out for His good; hence, she uses her writing voice to raise awareness of mental illness, as well as to spread the light of God’s love to those who are mentally trapped in the dark, and provide them with hope and encouragement.
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