One of the more difficult things we are called to do when we choose to live Biblically is to 1Thess 5:18 give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
Something inside us just doesn’t want to do that. We want to wait to see how things turn out before we give thanks. We may not like the outcome.
Today, we look at two Kings who faced the very same choice. They were caught in the meantime – the period between the problem and the solution. With no visible answer, that turned their thanks into a sacrifice of praise.
Heb 13:15 Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name.
King David had violated God’s warning to not count the people which was a temptation to transfer his confidence from God to his resources. God’s judgment caused the entire country to suffer. Before the punishment was over, David saw the angel of the Lord standing at a threshing floor that belonged to a man named Araunah.
2Sam 24:18-24 So Gad came to David that day and said to him, "Go up, erect an altar to the LORD on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite." David went up according to the word of Gad, just as the LORD had commanded. Araunah looked down and saw the king and his servants crossing over toward him; and Araunah went out and bowed his face to the ground before the king. Then Araunah said, "Why has my lord the king come to his servant?" And David said, "To buy the threshing floor from you, in order to build an altar to the LORD, that the plague may be held back from the people." Araunah said to David, "Let my lord the king take and offer up what is good in his sight. Look, the oxen for the burnt offering, the threshing sledges and the yokes of the oxen for the wood. Everything, O king, Araunah gives to the king." And Araunah said to the king, "May the LORD your God accept you." However, the king said to Araunah, "No, but I will surely buy it from you for a price, for I will not offer burnt offerings to the LORD my God which cost me nothing."
Cost made the offering a sacrifice. “It is hard to do what I must do. I’m struggling with giving my praise.” That’s when praise becomes costly. The plague was still on the people. The nation was still suffering. Yet, David was called to worship God – giving Him praise and thanks in the meantime of the circumstances. That was a sacrifice of praise.
2Sam 24:25 David built there an altar to the LORD and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings. Thus the LORD was moved by prayer for the land, and the plague was held back from Israel.
That’s the intent behind the Biblical call to give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. When? When everything is over and all has returned to normal? When? When the doctor says we are now cured? When? When the pain has gone away and we can move about freely again? When? When my problem has been solved? No, in all circumstances. Even in the meantime.
What if that’s where we’re caught - in the meantime? We need an answer that hasn’t come yet. We’re in that zone of problem waiting for a solution. We hear the call to thank God but our circumstances have just begun or have lingered for a long time or are getting worse not better and the answer is nowhere in sight? How do we give thanks for all things in the meantime? We go ahead and build the altar of praise.
But, let’s change Kings from David to Jehoshaphat. We’ll find his story in 2 Chronicles 20. Here’s how Jehoshaphat did it.
When a threat against us causes fear and concern we turn our attention to seek the Lord.
2Chron 20:1-4 Now it came about after this that the sons of Moab and the sons of Ammon, together with some of the Meunites, came to make war against Jehoshaphat. Then some came and reported to Jehoshaphat, saying, "A great multitude is coming against you from beyond the sea, out of Aram and behold, they are in Hazazon-tamar (that is Engedi)." Jehoshaphat was afraid and turned his attention to seek the LORD, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah. So Judah gathered together to seek help from the LORD; they even came from all the cities of Judah to seek the LORD.
Pray to the Answer not to the problem. How do we do that? By looking back over what God has already done. We have to stop praying like God doesn’t know what He’s doing and needs our help figuring things out. Look at what He’s already done.
2Chron 20:5-6 Then Jehoshaphat stood in the assembly of Judah and Jerusalem, in the house of the LORD before the new court, and he said, "O LORD, the God of our fathers, are You not God in the heavens? And are You not ruler over all the kingdoms of the nations? Power and might are in Your hand so that no one can stand against You.
When we are powerless and don’t know what to do, we are not helpless if our eyes are on the Lord.
2Chron 20:7-12 "Did You not, O our God, drive out the inhabitants of this land before Your people Israel and give it to the descendants of Abraham Your friend forever? They have lived in it, and have built You a sanctuary there for Your name, saying, 'Should evil come upon us, the sword, or judgment, or pestilence, or famine, we will stand before this house and before You (for Your name is in this house) and cry to You in our distress, and You will hear and deliver us.' [Solomon] "Now behold, the sons of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir, whom You did not let Israel invade when they came out of the land of Egypt (they turned aside from them and did not destroy them), see how they are rewarding us by coming to drive us out from Your possession which You have given us as an inheritance. O our God, will You not judge them? For we are powerless before this great multitude who are coming against us; nor do we know what to do, but our eyes are on You."
When we realize God is our help, trust will replace fear and confidence will replace defeat. We can be defeated even before the challenge begins.
2Chron 20:13-15 All Judah was standing before the LORD, with their infants, their wives and their children. Then in the midst of the assembly the Spirit of the LORD came upon Jahaziel the son of Zechariah, the son of Benaiah, the son of Jeiel, the son of Mattaniah, the Levite of the sons of Asaph; and he said, "Listen, all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem and King Jehoshaphat: thus says the LORD to you, 'Do not fear or be dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours but God's.
2Cor 4:6-9 For God, who said, "Light shall shine out of darkness," is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves; we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed;
Why? Because the darkness isn’t some empty space without hope. It is the place God is preparing to make His light shine. It’s dark when we lose our job. It’s dark when we get sick. It’s dark when our dreams have has been stolen away from us. But we aren’t without hope.
Ps 30:5 His anger is but for a moment, His favor is for a lifetime; weeping may last for the night, but a shout of joy comes in the morning.
Why? God’s been working throughout the long night of our darkness getting our answer ready for the morning. The battle within the darkness isn’t ours but His. Get personal:
You cannot handle all your problems by yourself.
You are not able to solve all your problems by yourself.
If so, you wouldn’t need God.
This isn’t just your problem, it’s the Lord’s. Why? So He can show Himself strong on your behalf.
When we don’t know what the answer is, how do we think we can fix the problem? We declare our problems opportunities to see the greatness of God in our lives.
2Chron 20:16-17 Tomorrow go down against them. Behold, they will come up by the ascent of Ziz, and you will find them at the end of the valley in front of the wilderness of Jeruel. You need not fight in this battle; station yourselves, stand and see the salvation of the LORD on your behalf, O Judah and Jerusalem.' Do not fear or be dismayed; tomorrow go out to face them, for the LORD is with you."
Standing is an action of faith. It shows our confidence in the goodness of God.
That’s the answer. It’s not something we would ever come up with on our own. We are to stand and see what God will do. Which means, living in anticipation of what God will do.
When the answer comes (the Lord is with us), turn your fear (anticipating defeat) into praise (anticipating blessing).
2Chron 20:18-19 Jehoshaphat bowed his head with his face to the ground, and all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem fell down before the LORD, worshiping the LORD. The Levites, from the sons of the Kohathites and of the sons of the Korahites, stood up to praise the LORD God of Israel, with a very loud voice.
Give thanks for what He has done and what He will do. Connect the past with the now.
2Chron 20:20-21 They rose early in the morning and went out to the wilderness of Tekoa; and when they went out, Jehoshaphat stood and said, "Listen to me, O Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem, put your trust in the LORD your God and you will be established. Put your trust in His prophets and succeed." When he had consulted with the people, he appointed those who sang to the LORD and those who praised Him in holy attire, as they went out before the army and said, "Give thanks to the LORD, for His lovingkindness is everlasting."
Lovingkindness – kindness based on love
Lord, we thank you that You love us. We thank you that through Your love you provide us with all good things. Because of Your love, we know this problem, this burden, this crisis, threat is covered. Since You love us, we love you and trust in all You intend to do. Thank you that nothing will separate us from Your love. [Not] tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword! For [we are] convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
God’s provisions are based on the everlasting supply of His love. Because He loves us those provisions never cease.
Lam 3:22-23 The LORD'S lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.
The valley of crisis will become the valley of blessing.
2Chron 20:22-25 When they began singing and praising, the LORD set ambushes against the sons of Ammon, Moab and Mount Seir, who had come against Judah; so they were routed. For the sons of Ammon and Moab rose up against the inhabitants of Mount Seir destroying them completely; and when they had finished with the inhabitants of Seir, they helped to destroy one another. When Judah came to the lookout of the wilderness, they looked toward the multitude, and behold, they were corpses lying on the ground, and no one had escaped. When Jehoshaphat and his people came to take their spoil, they found much among them, including goods, garments and valuable things which they took for themselves, more than they could carry. And they were three days taking the spoil because there was so much.
Gen 50:19-20 But Joseph said to them, "Do not be afraid, for I am in God's place. As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result,
When God fights the battle, the only energy we expend is faith. The result of faith is peace.
2Chron 20:26-30 Then on the fourth day they assembled in the valley of Beracah, for there they blessed the LORD. Therefore they have named that place "The Valley of Beracah" until today. Every man of Judah and Jerusalem returned with Jehoshaphat at their head, returning to Jerusalem with joy, for the LORD had made them to rejoice over their enemies. They came to Jerusalem with harps, lyres and trumpets to the house of the LORD. And the dread of God was on all the kingdoms of the lands when they heard that the LORD had fought against the enemies of Israel. So the kingdom of Jehoshaphat was at peace, for his God gave him rest on all sides.
The name Berach means blessing. God turned the valley of crisis into the valley of blessing. All Judah had to do was choose to trust God to be God on their behalf by giving Him thanks in the meantime, before there was any visible answer to their problem. Praising God overpowered their fear and they saw God win the day!
Alex Haley, the author of Roots, had a picture on the wall in his office of a turtle on top of a fence post. It reminded him the turtle didn’t get there on his own. He had help.
If the solution to your problem is you, a turtle, must get on top of a fencepost, realize you will never do that on your own. But if that’s where God wants you to be, He will get you there. So, give thanks that you belong to a God who will do whatever it takes to get you wherever He feels it is best for you to be.
- There is nothing we face that God is inexperienced in dealing with.
- He is capable of solving any problem we face.
- So, the issue isn’t can God solve this, but will we trust Him to solve this and anticipate His answer in the meantime.
- Regardless of how dark the darkness, God’s light is more than sufficient to illuminate our path through the darkness or get rid of the darkness altogether.
- So, we don’t wait until the crisis is over to give Him thanks; He’s working now.