The rain poured down in the days just prior to the battle of Waterloo. Napoleon had marched all the way from France to face his enemy, and we can image how tired his men must have been after trekking with heavy canons in the downpour. And since they didn’t have paved roads, it wasn’t exactly good for morale!
The good news for Napoleon was that he had more canons than his enemies, the British and the Prussians. He took this to his advantage, and he had his canons aimed low to hit as many of the enemy soldiers as possible. He made just one tiny oversight when it came to the simple laws of physics: Heavy rain causes mud, and that same mud would hamper the effectiveness of Napoleon’s bowling-kind of tactics!
His enemies though took full advantage of the fact that they outnumbered the French two to one, and they placed themselves mostly on hills, where canons could not reach them!
Despite all of this, Napoleon still believed he would win the battle. Before lunch time, even! After all, he had won the battle against the Prussians two days before! Instead, Napoleon would meet his demise, or as the French would say, “Napoleon would meet his Waterloo”!
How differently King Jehosaphat faced the news that: “A vast army is coming against you from Edom, from the other side of the Sea.” (2 Chron 20:2 NIV)
What would we do in Jehosaphat’s place? Would we react like Napoleon and conclude it will be a piece of cake? (Or should I say mud?) Or would we be filled with fear? After all we hadn’t expected such calamity!
“Alarmed, Jehoshaphat resolved to inquire of the Lord, and he proclaimed a fast for all Judah.” (2 Chron 20:3 NIV)
Jehoshaphat faced this catastrophe quite differently. There was no way he would face this on his own strength! He wanted to hear from God before undertaking anything. Wise decision! If canons can be hampered by mud, other human endeavors could face similar defeats!
Strangely enough, we, as human beings, are always inclined to react on impulse, facing our adversity with our own ingenuity (Look at Napoleon!), an inventiveness that isn’t much better than a croaking toad amidst flying cannon balls on a mud field! The outcome would be so different if we immediately ran to God!
Jehoshaphat did not put his confidence in himself, however, but put his trust in God! “If calamity comes upon us, whether the sword of judgment, or plague or famine, we will stand in your presence before this temple that bears your Name and will cry out to you in our distress, and you will hear us and save us.” (2 Chron 20:9 NIV)
Do we display this kind of confidence when we face the loss of a job, the loss of finances, the loss of anything? Do we truly believe that God hears our prayers even amidst our most somber of circumstances?
Reality is: “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 upon you.” (2 Chron 20:12 NIV)
Jehoshaphat saw clearly how desperate his situation was. He truly had no idea how to face this immense tragedy. But instead of wailing, complaining and preparing for war, he decided to focus on God. Isn’t He the One who gives hope to the hopeless?
As he was waiting for the Lord, God’s message came through His Spirit, to one of his prophets: “Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s.” (2 Chron 20:15 NIV)
Isn’t it true that none of our battles are really ours? That they are truly God’s to fight? All too often we take them too personally, and we steal the reins from God. Why not try it ourselves, after all? Aren’t we clever?
However if we do leave our gigantic tidal waves in God’s hands, God will take our prayer requests seriously. His message is always like the one in 2 Chron 20:15: We have nothing to fear! Fear arises when we doubt God. In all reality, God will come through. We may have no idea how, but He will!
It’s not our battle after all! We are not alone in this! God takes it personally! It’s His battle!
The next time we are in trouble, let’s remember how God came through for Jehoshaphat. If He stood for Jehoshaphat, He will stand for us as well!
Unless we rely on our own canons of ingenuity, that is! There is mud out there after all!
(To access the entire “Facing Unimaginable Odds” devotional series, please click here.)