Faith for God-sized Problems

by Andy Wood on July 28, 2010

in Ability,Enlarging Your Capacity,Life Currency,LV Cycle

In the previous post, we looked at some of the kinds of problems that go past hangnails and headaches.  Drawing from the experience of Jehoshaphat, Judah’s godly king, we explored some parallels of our own:

  • Unprovoked hostility
  • Overwhelming odds
  • Unresolved fear
  • Unfulfilled promises (of God)
  • Absolute weakness
  • Unclear direction

There are plenty of others, of course.  But that’s a healthy list to remind us that faith doesn’t mean you never have problems. Believing God doesn’t mean you’re never afraid, or that you never face impossible situations.  And in spite of the way some “believers” act, faith doesn’t mean you have all the answers.  In one of my favorite verses in the Bible, this godly man says to God, “We don’t know what to do.  But our eyes are on you.”

So when your back is to the wall and the Ammonites are coming, when you’re way past anxious and have no answers or direction, how does faith respond?  Let me suggest five ways:

1.  Fix your heart on God.

Jehoshaphat was terrified.  You would be, too.  Yet in his fear, he “set himself to seek the Lord.”  He knew that men’s answers weren’t good enough.  And he wasn’t leaving without an answer from God.

Seeking the Lord requires an intentional choice.  Fear and anxiety are natural responses; I don’t care how spiritually mature you are, you still must choose to say no to your fears.

Why do you suppose Jesus encouraged us to “ask, seek, and knock” (Matthew 7:7-8)?  Because in the asking, we ask of the Lord.  In the seeking, we’re seeking God.  In the knocking, we’re pounding on God’s door.  It’s all about fixing your heart on the Lord, not on the need or request.

That’s exactly what Jehoshaphat was doing.  He made a firm decision that he and his people may die, but they would die seeking the Lord rather than live running from or fighting an enemy in their own wisdom or strength.

2.  Abandon all other confidence (v. 12)

Jehoshaphat had reached the point where he had no guidance but God’s.  He had no wisdom but God’s.  He had no power but God’s.

And that was exactly where God wanted him to be.

I have a sneaking feeling you face impossible situations in the same way, and for the same reason.  God is in the process of leading us to abandon hope in any other resource but Him.  The greater your confidence in your own resources, the greater impossibilities you will encounter.

I once had a friend say to me, “Andy, do you know what your problem is?”  (Isn’t that a cheery thing to talk about?)

“What’s that?” I asked, bracing myself.

“Your problem is that you’re so adequate.  And what God is looking for is someone who is shipwrecked on Him.”

I didn’t know whether to say “ouch” or “amen.”

3.  Involve others in the process.

The king of Judah did an interesting thing.  He called for a nation-wide fast, and assembled every man, woman, and child in Jerusalem and Judah in the house of God.  He wasn’t the only one praying that day?

Why did he call even the infants and small children?  Because they all had a stake in the outcome of this crisis.

Involving others in my graduate-level problem flies in the face of my independence and pride.  But it accomplishes some pretty remarkable things when you put Silver in the stable and take off that Lone Ranger mask.  First, it humbles you.  And you need humbling.

Second, it builds everyone else’s faith.  Your crisis is an amazing opportunity for them to pray, to grow, to be stretched.

Third, it gives God a chance to speak through somebody else.  Is that OK with you?  Or do you need to be the one through whom all answers come?  If so, go back to the point about humbling yourself.

4.  Tell God exactly what’s on your heart.

When Jehoshaphat prayed, he followed a pattern that’s found throughout the Bible.  It’s a wonderfully simple process:

  • Tell God what you know.
  • Tell God how you feel.
  • Tell God exactly what you want Him to do.

Let’s try that again…

  • Tell God what you know.
  • Tell God how you feel.
  • Tell God exactly what you want Him to do.

“Will you not judge them?” the king asked.  Not much of a mystery what he was feeling and wanting.

5.  Heed what God says.

If you set your heart to get a word from God, you’d better be ready to receive the word you get.  In Jeshophat’s case, this is what the Lord said through His prophet:

  • This is My battle.
  • But you’re involved in it.
  • They really are coming…
  • And you’re going against them…
  • But you’re not going to fight.

As I mentioned previously, some people are wired to DO something, while others are wired to do nothing.  Somewhere in-between, in most circumstances, is the truth.  What you need in heavy-duty problem solving is discernment.  Do I station myself or do I charge?  Do I wait or do I go?  Is this the Lord’s fight, or is it mine?

Sometimes the news God gives will be good.  Sometimes it will be bad, or at least very realistic.  Faith means you’re willing to receive it, regardless.

One Simple Idea

Line all five of these steps up, and it spells “faith.”  But I can reduce the five steps to one simple idea.  When you’re faced with big boy or girl problems, and need wisdom, strength, or a breakthrough, one word is all you need to remember:

Attend.

Rivet your attention on the Lord, not the problem.  Discern His voice through others as you involve them in the process.  Abandon all other priorities or sources of confidence and attend to Him.  Tell God exactly what is on your heart.  And get the Lord’s direction and heed it.  All of this is an expression of confidence in God, regardless of the circumstances.  And that’s the kind of faith that God-sized problems call for.  You don’t have to know all the answers.  Just THE Answer.

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