Dwight Fletcher | Against the odds - Part 1
When it comes to the Christmas story, we often focus on the birth of Jesus and the worship of the Magi. We rarely look beyond the surface of the story. Then, we might see the struggles of his parents - overhearing the quiet whispers about having a child 'before the time'; having to deliver the baby in an unhygienic place surrounded by animals; and running from a leader who was murdering infant boys. Yet, despite all the odds stacked against Jesus' life, our Saviour and King grew up to triumph in unexpected ways.
Achieving triumph against all odds is a storyline that never grows old. We will all face impossible situations in our lives, and seeing the victory of others often gives us hope that it will also happen for us. But how do we stand against the odds to see that triumph?
Apart from the account of Jesus' birth, the Bible is full of history about how the people of God looked to Him and experienced victory again and again even against overwhelming odds. One such report is in 2 Chronicles 32. King Hezekiah gives us an example of how we can approach threats and experience God's deliverance against all the odds.
ACKNOWLEDGE THE THREAT
"After Hezekiah had faithfully carried out this work, King Sennacherib of Assyria invaded Judah. He laid siege to the fortified towns, giving orders for his army to break through their walls." (2 Chronicles 32:1 NLT). Step one always requires you to acknowledge the problem. This allows you to take practical steps to minimise its effects.
King Hezekiah took sensible steps to minimise the effectiveness of the attackers. "When Hezekiah realised that Sennacherib also intended to attack Jerusalem, he consulted with his officials and military advisers, and they decided to stop the flow of the springs outside the city. They organised a huge work crew to stop the flow of the springs, cutting off the brook that ran through the fields. For they said, "Why should the kings of Assyria come here and find plenty of water?" (2 Chronicles 32:2-4 NLT).
Hezekiah responded to this threat by first doing what he knew to be logical. Faith allows you to operate using common sense.
RESPOND WITH COMMON SENSE
The Bible backs up this way of thinking: "A prudent person foresees danger and takes precautions. The simpleton goes blindly on and suffers the consequences." (Proverbs 22:3 NLT.)
I once heard Bishop T.D. Jakes say that hypertension is in his family. He agrees that he walks in divine health, but walking on the treadmill is also a good thing.
Four common sense things that Hezekiah did that we can learn from are:
1. Consult with experts in the field. Hezekiah checked with his officials and military officers. You do not have all the answers, so ask questions.
2. Don't give the enemy any unnecessary advantages. Hezekiah stopped the water supply. Without water, it is hard to fight. Cut off the supply of the enemy named unforgiveness - forgive those who have hurt you.
3. Strengthen your defenses. "Then Hezekiah worked hard at repairing all the broken sections of the wall ... ." (2 Chronicle 32:5 NLT). One area that many of us need to strengthen is our spiritual walk. Commit to regularly reading your Bible, and to apply it to your life.
4. Strategise for war. "He appointed military officers over the people ... ." (2 Chronicles 32:6a). We have to prepare a strategy to defend what we know is the truth.
After we have done all that, "Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see." (Hebrews 11:1 NLT.) We have to make our agreement with faith in God and His promises louder than those things that would oppose it.
As we begin 2018, we will look at how to exercise faith in God and look for His response when faced with overwhelming odds.
Jesus' birth was only the beginning. I pray that this new year, you and your family will receive all the rich gifts that His time on Earth bought for us. Have a prosperous New Year!