By Matt Redmond
Most of the work I do as a counselor is with those who are suffering from fear or anxiety. They are suffering from panic attacks or there is a hum of fear in the background of their daily lives. They are always afraid. They fear sickness, loneliness, failure, their children’s failure, someone breaking into their home, and finances. Almost all of them are afraid of running out of money.
None of them have told me they are afraid of invading armies, but that’s what Jehoshaphat feared in today’s reading. He had just been made aware of multiple armies who were now about to invade Judah.
How does he respond? He seeks the Lord through fasting and prayer. And God’s response to him is, “Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast number, for the battle is not yours, but God’s” (2Chronicles 20:15). Then something unusual happened—Jehoshaphat took God at His word. He went forward believing.
This is not how we usually respond when afraid. Often, we don’t seek the Lord or we don’t take Him at His word. Because He is unseen, we can fail to consider Him as the reason for hope when we are afraid things will fall apart. When we hear Him say, “Do not be afraid,” we think this is an impossible way to live and we excuse our fear. We live out a practical atheism instead of turning toward the One who declares the battle is His.
I love that Jehoshaphat fasted and prayed. Fasting is a way to direct our hearts toward God. And at a fundamental level, prayer is an exercise of pointing our will toward God in reliance on Him. In my own life, I’ve experienced desperation and loss. When I’ve sought God in fasting and prayer, I’ve felt more confident God would care for us than ever before.
Why am I confident in God we should not fear? Because He has told us over, and over. I’ve seen His provision.