Feeling powerless and discouraged? Here are 3 things to do when you don’t know what to do and the odds are NOT in your favor. From a POWERFUL Bible story.
Have you ever felt outnumbered?
Maybe it’s failing relationships, mounting finances, or closing doors of opportunity that make you feel like the odds are definitely NOT in your favor.
Maybe it’s sin you can’t overcome, anxiety overtaking your heart, or dreams and hopes that continue to go unfulfilled day after day.
Maybe you’re like me — and look at the state of our world — and feel like a flea on the wing of a fly on a frog…
Well, we can just stop there before we both end up in a hole in the middle of the sea.
Whatever the cause, the effect leaves you feeling small.
“We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on You.”
Consider the story in 2 Chronicles 20 where God’s people in Judah were literally outnumbered. In fact, the war report to King Jehoshaphat detailed, “A great multitude is coming against you from beyond the sea.”
Scripture records the king’s response. He gathered the people to fast and pray. After proclaiming God’s sovereignty, the king ended with a heart-wrenching cry of dependence:
“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.”
The sheer desperation in that prayer floods my own eyes. I can relate more deeply than I’d like to admit.
God heard that prayer and He answered through a servant:
“Do not fear or be dismayed
because of this great multitude,
for the battle is not yours but God’s.
You need not fight in this battle;
stand and see the salvation
of the LORD on your behalf
for the LORD is with you.”
(vs. 15-17, NASB)
Now, we aren’t facing a multitude of enemy combatants approaching our gates; nevertheless, there is a real combat and an enemy who is often behind our feelings of hopelessness and helplessness.
“We are powerless and don’t know what to do.”
Turning to God in prayer is the first strategy, but there’s even more we can learn from this account.
God’s instructions and the resulting response from this predicament 3000 years ago hold a few important lessons for us today.
3 things to do when you don’t know what to do
1-Station, Stand, and See
I love alliteration, and this trio is profound.
The Hebrew word translated “station” is defined as setting a position or taking one’s stand. There’s a subtle difference between this and the verb translated “stand,” which is the act of persisting — or as my favorite definition states — “abiding behind.”
We have to first take our stand before we can withstand.
The only foundation worth standing on is the Word of God.
In times of overwhelming darkness and despair, we must go a step further, intentionally abiding behind God’s Word and His promises.
Claim them and proclaim them.
Write them down and shut out anything else that distracts us from the work of withstanding and the act of abiding.
Finally, we have to see.
Seeing the salvation of the Lord is the result of stationing and standing, but it’s also a deliberate action.
We have to choose what we fix our eyes on.
Sometimes that may require derby blinders or deleted apps or disconnected TVs.
Our eyes are the windows to our soul.
If the eyes need Windex, the soul likely needs Clorox.
In other words, if you can’t shake the darkness, it might be because there’s not enough light getting in.
2-Remember it’s not your war
All of this is accomplished in the Spirit’s power. The Israelites were told, “The Lord is with you.”
We’ve been promised,
“Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.”
(2 Cor. 1:21-22, NIV)
Above all, dear comrade, always remember who is really at war.
Because this is the Lord’s battle, we can trust that doing our part to station, stand, and see is enough.
- If He wants a multitude of 5000 fed, He can do it with a few fish and bites of bread.
- If He wants to proclaim His message and see 3000 repent, He can do it through an ordinary fisherman who just denied him 50 days earlier.
- (Actually, He can do it without any of this, but you get my point, right?)
You are small,
but you’re not insignificant.
Your calling is to obey,
not orchestrate the outcome.
The enemy seeks to destroy you,
but it’s not about you.
Yes, you’re enlisted in the army — with battles to fight on the Lord’s behalf —but it’s not your war.
3-Make your battle cry a song
After receiving these words from the Lord, the people rose early the next morning to meet the enemy in the wilderness.
Oh, did I forget to mention that little part? ~ smile.
Yes, verse 16 tells us God told the people to actually go down against the overwhelming, outnumbering enemy, not hide inside their gates.
I can’t even.
So we won’t.
Here’s the place I want you to go with me on this:
While they stood in the wilderness, waiting for the enemy to appear, the king reminded them,
“Put your trust in the Lord your God and you will be established.”
(vs. 20, NASB)
The very next verses tell of people praising God, and some even going before the army singing,
“Give thanks to the Lord, for His lovingkindness is everlasting.”
God had this next detail recorded for us and I almost missed it.
Verse 22 tells us,
“When they began singing and praising, the Lord set ambushes against (those) who had come against Judah.”
Now, there are many songs of praise proclaiming God’s deliverance in the Bible, but this one is different.
Here, He delivered them AFTER they began praising Him.
Does that give you chills like me?
This is trust personified — or rather — songified.
Established trust looks like worship and thanksgiving —
even before anything you can see changes.
That’s reason enough to go find your voice if you’ve lost it and turn up worship music in the background.
God will be glorified through delivering you
The Israelites’ story ends with this,
“And the fear of God came on all the kingdoms of the countries when they heard that the Lord had fought against the enemies of Israel.”
Friend, whatever your enemy looks like, however big and insurmountable it seems, victory will come.
It may not be soon; it may not be in the form you’d wish, but your God is able to deliver. More than able.
When He does, your testimony of how He held you in the darkness will lead others to the light.
In the waiting, your battle cry will help others find their voice as together we proclaim,
“We don’t know what to do, but our eyes are on you, Lord!”
And even if — here on this earth — the odds are never (ever) in your favor again, if you know Jesus as Savior, you are favored by the Most High.
And that changes the game for all eternity.
Combat feelings of discouragement and brokenness with survival-grade faith.