Dwight Fletcher | Yes, I Can Breathe Again - Part 1
This 'Yes, I Can' series of articles is about getting unstuck in various areas of our lives. They are to inspire us to move forward to achieve God's best for our life despite the obstacles and setbacks that occur.
Many things can leave us feeling overwhelmed - natural disasters, death, debt, marriage, work, school and so much more. Watching or listening to the news gives us a glimpse of all that is happening in the world around us, and we are often bombarded on every side by so many things. So, what do you do when you feel overwhelmed financially, physically or by conflict? What do you do when things outside of your control threaten you or a loved one?
In 2 Chronicles 20:1-30, the story is told of King Jehoshaphat who was experiencing peace and prosperity in his nation when all of a sudden, he hears that three enemy nations have joined together to make war against him. Jehoshaphat was a good guy. He'd led the entire nation of Israel to a spiritual revival and yet here the enemy still came to attack him. That was overwhelming! Verse three of the New Living Translation tells us: "Jehoshaphat was terrified by this news..."
From this account, we learn of five things that Jehoshaphat did when he was overwhelmed; things that we can also do today. When we feel overwhelmed we must:
1. TURN TO GOD FOR HELP
"Alarmed, Jehoshaphat resolved to enquire of the Lord, and he proclaimed a fast for all Judah." 2 Chronicles 20:3 NIV. It's not the crisis that destroys men; it's what we do or don't do when the crisis hits. No one can avoid a moment like this. But the first few moments, the first hours, the first days, the way you respond when your back is up against the wall frequently determines the outcome.
Too often when we feel overwhelmed we start planning. Planning is good, but we should pray before we plan. Prayer should be our first choice when we feel overwhelmed, not the last resort. There is no problem too big or too small to pray about. Notice how and what Jehoshaphat prayed and pray like this when you feel overwhelmed.
2. FOCUS ON GOD, NOT THE PROBLEM
Too often we allow our problems to suffocate us because they blot out our view of God. Corrie Ten Boom wrote: "If you look at the world, you'll be distressed. If you look within, you'll be depressed. But if you look at Christ you'll be at rest." When we pray, we should take the focus off the problem and place it on the one who has the solution - God.
This prayer by Jehoshaphat is considered one of the best prayers in The Bible because of how it changes our focus. In this prayer, we are taught to remind ourselves of:
How Big God Is
Jehoshaphat prayed: "Lord, the God of our ancestors, are you not the God who is in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. Power and might are in your hand, and no one can withstand you." Problems shrink when the all-powerful, in-control God expands in my life. It's a big problem but God is bigger than the problem.
What God Has Done In The Past
Jehoshaphat said in verse 7 "Our God, did you not drive out the inhabitants of this land before your people Israel..." I have to remind myself of the tough times God has already brought me through. Certainly he's going to help me through this one.
What God Has Promised
Jehoshaphat prayed you "...you ... give it forever to the descendants of Abraham your friend..." Did you know that in the Bible, there are over seven thousand promises from God? If I want to be a strong man or woman of faith, I need to memorise the ones that apply to me. So when I start to feel overwhelmed I remember, "This is tough, but God has promised..."
Appeal To God's Character
Finally, Jehoshaphat appealed to God's character. In verses 10 to 12 he says "...you would not allow Israel to invade when they came from Egypt... See how they are repaying us... will you not judge them?" What he's really saying is: "God, I know that you are a good and loving God. You're even-handed and just. This is not fair for them to come in and destroy us like this."
After you have done all this, you need to:
Admit my inability
Say God I know you've got power and I don't. Verse 12 Jehoshaphat prays, "...we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you." You don't have to know the key men if you know the man who holds the key.
What happens when you take these steps? What happens when you say, God, I'm feeling overwhelmed right now. But I'm going to look first to you. I'm not going to focus on the problem I am going to focus on You because You are all powerful and I am not.
When the odds are overwhelmingly against us, we must turn our focus to God and not the problems. Next week, we will look at how God responds to us and two other ways that we are to respond when overwhelmed, so that we can say "Yes, I can breathe again".