Archive for March, 2014

Where do you turn for help?

Mountain Trail


Life is like a long journey along a rough trail traversing a lush mountain range.  There are the inevitable bumps and holes, twists and turns, and peaks and valleys along the way.  Storms come and storms pass, as do periods of clouds and darkness, clear skies and sunshine, cold and warmth.

The journey is filled with an ever-changing mixture of exhaustion and exhilaration, danger and peace, ugliness and beauty, sadness and happiness, fear and hope, death and birth.

Like Jesus’ disciples on the mount of transfiguration, we would prefer to remain high on a mountain peak, enjoying the splendor of the experience.  But after reaching each of life’s peaks, we must eventually descend back into the valley to the toil and dangers of everyday existence.

Every person experiences trials and tribulations along life’s way.  Some turn to friends and family for help; others turn to drugs, alcohol or sex to numb the pain; some turn to counseling or medical treatment; some try to deny their problems and end up mired in deep depression. A few turn to God. How trials and tribulations affect a person ultimately depends upon where he or she turns for help.

In the book of 2 Chronicles, chapter 16, the kingdom of Judah is threatened by an invasion led by Baasha, king of Israel.  Asa, king of Judah, realizing his army has no chance against the powerful army of Israel, seeks help from an old ally.  He sends an envoy bearing silver and gold to Damascus to beg for military support from Ben-Hadad, king of Syria. Ben-Hadad accepts the offer and Invades Israel, capturing a number of cities and forcing Kin Baasha to withdraw his army from Judah in order to defend his own kingdom.

With his kingdom secure, Asa begins repairing the damage wrought on Judah by the invaders.  It is at this time that he is visited by a prophet named Hanani, who tells the king he has displeased God because he chose to rely on Ben-Hadad instead of God:

At that time Hanani the seer came to Asa king of Judah and said to him, “Because you relied on the king of Syria, and did not rely on the Lord your God, the army of the king of Syria has escaped you. Were not the Ethiopians and the Libyans a huge army with very many chariots and horsemen? Yet because you relied on the Lord, he gave them into your hand.  For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to give strong support to those whose heart is blameless toward Him.  You have done foolishly in this, for from now on you will have wars.”  —2 Chronicles 16:7-9 (ESV).

Despite the fact God had rescued Asa’s kingdom in the past, when Baasha made war against Judah, Asa chose to trust in his own abilities more than he trusted God.  As the profit foretold, the remainder of Asa’s reign was filled with turmoil.

Even if you are not facing trials and tribulations today, you will eventually encounter troubles in life.  It might be losing a job, receiving a grim medical diagnosis, going through a divorce, losing a loved one, or some other troubling situation. God does not promise to solve each problem you face, but He does promise to strengthen you and enable you to endure each problem—if only you will seek Him and allow Him to work in your life.

Jesus said,

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” —Matthew 11: 28-30 (ESV).  

Just as a child relies on its parents, God the Father desires that we rely upon him for all of our needs.  It is during our times of weakness that God’s strength can be put on display in our lives—if we acknowledge our weakness and seek His help. As 1 Peter 5:6-7 charges us,

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.” (ESV)

Where do you turn for help?

                Psalm 121 (ESV)

I lift up my eyes to the hills.
    From where does my help come?
My help comes from the Lord,
    who made heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot be moved;
    he who keeps you will not slumber.
Behold, he who keeps Israel
    will neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord is your keeper;
    the Lord is your shade on your right hand.
The sun shall not strike you by day,
    nor the moon by night.

The Lord will keep you from all evil;
    he will keep your life.
The Lord will keep
    your going out and your coming in
    from this time forth and forevermore.