What To Do When You Don't Know What To Do
We read in 2 Chronicles 20: 12, “O our God, wilt thou not judge them? For we have no might against this great company that cometh against us; neither know we what to do: but our eyes are upon thee”.
Some one has said: “When you are at the end of your rope tie a knot and keep climbing. Don’t give up, don’t give in, don’t give way, and don’t give out.” I love the gospel song entitled, “It ain’t over until God says it’s over” because it reminds me that in the Christian life we face many obstacles. Many times we are forced to face some difficult things, some difficult circumstances and we just don’t know what to do. We run into detours, dryness, dead locks, dead ends, and disasters—and for some of us it seems we do so on a regular basis. Many times that is the experience of our lives, and the need of our lives is to just find a way to get through these times of uncertainty. We can wait, we can wonder and wander, we can keep watch and keep worshipping, but still we don’t know for sure what to do. I have you ever felt this way? Maybe there’s some one here this morning who says I have many things that I know I need to take care of but those things cost money that I don’t have and is actually way beyond my means and I just…don’t know what to do. Or maybe it’s, my son or daughter, my child is running rampant in the streets doing what he or she wants to do and I can’t control him or her; I’m afraid almost every night that I’ll receive an alarming phone call that they’re in jail or worst yet even dead…and I just don’t know what to do. If this is the case, let me tell you that we are not the first to be faced with this type of problem. We have here in our text a king by the name of Jehoshaphat who can tell us a thing or two about getting into a situation where you just don’t know what to do. Now, among God’s blessings, Jehoshaphat’s obedience and passion for God brought security for his kingdom.
King Jehoshaphat was Judah’s fourth king after Solomon’s kingdom was divided. The Chronicler here is quick to tell us if kings were either good or bad as measured by their obedience to the law of God. Often we are also told of their spiritual influence and effect on the nation. In the 17th chapter, verses 3 thru 4 of 2nd Chronicles we are told that “the Lord was with Jehoshaphat because he followed the example of his father David’s earlier days and did not seek after the Baals, but sought the God of his father (Asa), followed the commandments and did not act as Israel did” This commendation is followed by a statement that God established his kingdom and blessed him with riches and honor (v.5). The king is given a supreme compliment, which says that Jehoshaphat “took great pride in the ways of the Lord and again removed the high places and the Asherim from Judah (v.6). King Jehoshaphat incorporated the law of God, that to obey became his passion and pride. The account goes on (vv. 8-9) to tell how Jehoshaphat sent officials (scribes perhaps) throughout Judah teaching “the book of the law of the Lord.” Among the good kings of Judah, during this time in history there was no king godlier than Jehoshaphat. He was a good king and there was no doubt that he loved God and made sure that his people knew what it meant to be children of God. But here is the sad part, when we get to chapter 18 verse (1), “Now Jehoshaphat had great riches and honor; and he allied himself by marriage with Ahab.” That’s right, the good king Jehoshaphat made a great mistake, he aligned himself and all of Judah with one of the most evil kings in the entire Bible, Ahab. You remember him don’t you?
The wicked Baal worshipper whose wife, Jezebel, tried to kill all the prophets of God (1Kg 18:13)! Jehoshaphat was a good king but he had human traits like the rest us, he allowed the spirit of pride, prestige, and power to take over and later on down the road the prophet Jehu confronted him with this question, "Should you help the wicked and love those who hate the LORD and so bring wrath on yourself from the LORD?” This reminds me that there is an issue today, here in America that has reach the Supreme Court which is a spiritual issue and unfortunately there are Christians standing on both sides of this issue and this very same question can asked today. And I won’t go any further with this except to say we need remain obedient to God and not follow the world’s consensus. Eventually King Jehoshaphat was restored, and when God restores us it doesn’t mean that life from that point will be a bed of roses. As long as there is a devil, there will always be a battle that has to be fought—but here in the text I believe God is reminding the king that battle was not his, the battle belongs to God Himself. The allied army of the Moabites, Ammonites, and Edomites was invading Judah. You can’t tell me that King Jehoshaphat didn’t wonder a little bit about whether or not he was fully restored and this invasion was punishment for his previous indiscretion against God. We are all like this I believe, when trouble comes our way we tend go back over a sin that we committed previously and conclude that it must be because of this sin that I’m going through what I’m through. But this is not necessarily true because sometimes God allows trouble to come into our lives to let us know or remind us that He really is the only answer to the trials and tribulations that we face. Sometimes God gives a test, to see if have really repented and to see if we really rely on Him and on not ourselves or someone or some thing else. And what better test than the test of being overwhelmed, have you ever overwhelmed?
What do you do when you’re overwhelmed? Do you run to Oprah to see what she has to say about it? Do you get on the telephone and tell all your frenimies about you’re personal business and gamble with your reputation? Or do you just give up, give in, give way, and give out? Well, we can take a lesson from Jehoshaphat this morning because the very first thing he decided to do was proclaim a fast. He gathered the people together for prayer, that’s right he sought the Lord! He prayed a prayer that we ought to pray when trouble comes, “O our God (because we’re in this leaky boat together) …we do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon thee.” Oh, if all of America were to pray this prayer right now, we wouldn’t be trying to define or redefine the institution of marriage after all these years, we’d have an answer to the gun issue and abortion because really, without God we don’t know what we’re doing or what to do.
That’s why David said, “the Lord is my Shepherd” because His is to lead and mine is to follow. It’s not hard, you don’t have to be a rocket scientist, it’s as simple as can be—just follow the Lord and do good! Look at the text, in turned out that all the king had to do was call on God. He didn’t have to go to the Supreme Court to acquired their collective opinions. He didn’t have watch the Oprah network or seek Dr. Phil’s advice. He didn’t have to write to Dear Abby or anything like that, all he had to do was call on God, the Creator of all things big and small and that was good enough. Now, I was taught in seminary to keep your introduction short, however, I purposely decided to break the traditions of the elders this one time and I do have three briefs points on what to do when you don’t what to do, and my points are derived from the prayer of this good king Jehoshaphat, what do you do when you don’t know what to do.”
1. You can appraise your adversaries
Jehoshaphat appraised the situation, he took a realistic look at what was happening. Sometimes we try to run from our problem, sometimes we tell ourselves that we’ll deal with it later on eventhough we realize that it needs to be dealt right now. But the king here suggest that we need look our troubles in the eye, and sometimes we need to just go away and face the darkness. In appraising the adversary King Jehoshaphat realized that he and his people had a real cause for concern. Sometimes you and I really do have a cause for concern, but not always. Did you know that only 8 percent of our worries are legitimate? This means that 92 percent of our worries are illegitimate (I took math in high school) and so that’s comforting but yet we still worry more than we should, “O what peace we often forfeit, O what needless pain we bear, all because we do not carry everything to God in prayer.” But here, the king had a real problem and he appraised the situation and came to the conclusion that, “…we have no might against this great company that cometh against us” in short, he says we are powerless. Here we have a king who is willing to admit his total inability. He admits that the allied army coming up against them is far too much to handle. Have you ever admitted or came to the conclusion that a situation or circumstance has gone far beyond your control? The great A. W. Tozer once said, “The reason why many are still troubled, still seeking, still making little forward progress is because they haven’t yet come to the end of themselves. We’re still trying to give orders, and interfering with God’s work within us.” King Jehoshaphat made an appraisal of the situation and reasoned with himself that this is something only the Lord can handle. I can remember many times of trying to handle a difficult situation with my own so-called strength and falling flat on my face each time. Afterwards, I finally gave it to God and He made everything all right. I’ve learned to never interfere with God’s work.
2. You can analyze your resources
After his appraisal of Judah’s enemies, the king analyzed their resources. Since they didn’t what it took to win the battle, since they were outnumbered and since their weapons were inferior they were useless. The king kept analyzing the problem and must have asked himself now what do we have and said, “Well, all we have is God but the good news is, God is all we need” when we are dealing something that is overwhelming, God is always the answer. Just asked Moses when he stood at the Red Sea, you ask Daniel while he was in the lion’s den, or the three Hebrew boys in the fiery furnace. What about Job? If anybody had the right to give up it was he, he lost everything precious to him, but kept his faith in God. Joseph was in pit, but God took him out of the pit and placed in a palace. When we’re with uncertainty, just know that God knows what to do. God is a deliverer, He is a help in times of trouble; He is the way when there is no way. I started to say that God is our resource, but that is not quite right because a resource because a resource is something that is drawn from a source. And so God is not our resource He is our source, why? Because, “All things were made, by Him; and without Him was not anything made that was made.” (John 1: 3). Oh if we could only come to the conclusion that God is in total control of everything our life would be much easier. The late Rev. Dr. C. A. W. Clark once said, “God is sitting on His throne, He is not pacing back and forth; scratching His head and wondering what to do next.” He is “sitting” on His throne. King Jehoshaphat appraised his adversaries, analyzed his resource and lastly he accepted his deliverance.
3. You can accept your deliverance
King Jehoshaphat and Judah accepted the deliverance of the Lord, and they did so by the leadership of Jehoshaphat in calling his people to worship, worship helps us to place things into perspective. When we worship when can see the face of God and the face of our troubles really don’t seem that big anymore. Have you ever face a problem and kneeled down to pray; when you got up from your prayer the problem was still there but you immediately felt a peace come upon on? That’s the Spirit of God telling you that He knows all about your troubles and everything is going to be alright. They received a promise from God, “…Thus saith the Lord unto you, be not afraid nor dismayed by reason of this great multitude; for the battle is not yours, but God’s…Ye shall not fight in this battle; set yourselves, stand ye still. And see the salvation of the Lord with you…” (vv. 15; 17) that’s what God does for us if we let Him in times of trouble, we can stand on His promises. The king had all the confidence in the world when it came to God and when we don’t know what to do we can let our confidence in God meet up with the crisis in our life; when we are able to surrender our all to God. Often we do not know what to do because we are depending on ourselves, but once we begin to really depend upon God, we can sit back and watch Him work.
What to do when you don’t know what to do? Well, In times of helplessness, when you have done all that you can do—stand still and know that He is God. Look at verse 17, “…you will not even need to fight. Take your positions; then stand still and watch the Lord’s victory. He is with you, O people of Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid or discouraged. Go out against them tomorrow, for the Lord is with you!” God told them to stand still, stillness is a position but it also an attitude, at times my life is anything but still. I could stand still (motionless) but standing still or sitting still is useless when all the while my mind could be running back and forth. I believe that the Lord wants us to calm down and be patient, be still both physically and mentally, I can’t talk to Him and at the same time my mind is uneasy. We have to come the full realization that there are times when doing nothing is better than doing anything. Those are the times when only God can do what is needed. Jehoshaphat knew this secret; he knew the same Lord, and the same divine grace. Jehoshaphat said to the helpless people: "Be not afraid nor dismayed by reason of this great multitude; for the battle is not your’s, but God’s.... Ye shall not need to fight in this battle. Maybe you can relate to this. Family members with competing needs. Relationships to nurture and to maintain, work demands. Ministry commitments. I have errands to run, projects to finish. Phone calls to make and E-mail to answer. Sometimes it’s too much! These are all good things, but they become too much and I have readjust my attitude and focus on what is most important. I’ve learned that when I’m busy and distracted I miss God. The truth is, if I’m hurrying, anxious, or under pressure it’s hard to hear from God. And if it’s hard for me to hear God when I’m dealing with something I can’t handle on my own and I have rendered myself both hopeless and helpless. Psalm 46: 10 says, “Be still and know that I am God” notice that it doesn’t say, “Know God” but it says, “…know that I AM God” In the world there are various attitudes towards God. Some are hostile, others indifferent, many think “God” is a joke, while some reject Him entirely. However there is a company of people in the earth who love God deeply and with all their strength they seek to please Him and avoid offending Him. King Jehoshaphat knew that if they were ever going to be delivered the Lord God was the only One who could bring about deliverance. He said we don’t know what to do “…but our eyes are upon you”. What do you do when you don’t know what to do? Keep your eyes on the Lord and take them off any distraction. How do you know if something is a distraction? A distraction is anything or anyone that becomes the motivation for your life. Reminds me of the song that my parents used to sing, “I woke up this morning with my eyes stayed of Jesus…Jesus is the captain in your mind when you keep it stayed, stayed on Jesus. God confused the enemy and they killed each other, Judah and Jehoshaphat were delivered which means you and I can also be delivered if we just be still. Amen.