When We Don't Know What to Do
So in the Old Testament, one of the kings of Judah who came after King David was a man named Jehoshaphat. And Jehoshaphat, we read about in 2 Chronicles, was one of the few good kings in Israel’s history, and there is one particular story that stands out. It’s in 2 Chronicles 20 when word comes to Jehoshaphat that some of the neighboring nations are teaming up to fight against Judah. The Moabites and Ammonites, enemy nations, were marching their way to Judah in a great multitude, and it was one of those situations where you’re just absolutely stuck.
You probably have felt this before. Imagine you are standing here, and you’re looking out there, and you see trouble coming. You see what looks like, from where you’re standing, a very bad thing. The enemy is coming.
There is where Jehoshaphat is, and he does what any person who knows God would do. He prays. And in his prayer, he remembers God’s faithfulness. He thinks back on all the ways that God has shown up and provided for his people. And then he ends the prayer in verse 12, where he says,
O our God, will you not execute judgment on them? [talking about the enemy] 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.
And what I find so fascinating about the way he ends this prayer is that he is still stuck. Praying, for Jehoshaphat doesn’t move him to a place of clarity or insight. He finishes his prayer and the enemy is still marching toward him, and he admits, in the last sentence he prays that he doesn’t know what to do. And I’m so uncomfortable with that. I do not like not knowing what to do, and I really don’t like saying I don’t know what to do. But that’s where Jehoshaphat is here.
And that’s where he prays to God, “We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.”
So stuck where he is, not knowing what he wishes he knew, he says, I’m looking to you, God. I’m turning it all over to you. We don’t know what to do, but our eyes are on you.
This prayer for help is a prayer of faith, and it’s a prayer that I exhort us to pray as individuals and as a church. Wherever you are stuck, wherever we are in not knowing what to do, let us look to God. This is a basic, childlike trust that we want to have in our Father, and too often we don’t, which reminds us of our need to confess our sins.
Prayer of Confession
Father, you know where we are. You know how stuck we can feel at times, and how much we don’t like to feel that way. Oftentimes when you call us to faith, we demand certainty. When you call us to trust you, we insist on answers. We are weak and helpless. We are powerless against this great horde coming against us, and yet, instead of looking to you, we have turned from you. We confess there are times when our eyes are not on you but on ourselves. And for this we repent. Forgive us for this sin, and lead us now, I pray, as we confess our individual sins to you in silence. . . .
Father, you know our frame; you remember we are dust. There are things we don’t know and things we get wrong. Our hearts are prone to wander and our affections for you grow cold, and yet, your love for us does not change. Because of your grace toward us in Jesus, because he died for us on the cross, in our place, and was raised from the dead, and filled us with your Spirit, we are held secure in your mercy, and the gospel anthem rings true: we are not dead, but alive; we are not lost, but found; we are not your enemies, but we are your sons and daughters. In Jesus’s name, amen.