“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”– Philippians 4:4-7
I want to live like King Jehoshaphat. He understood these verses.
I’ve long loved Paul’s letter to the Philippians, especially chapter 4, particularly verses 4-7. These scriptures have come alive in a new one to me throughout the Precept Upon Precept study of Philippians I’ve been working through since September.
The Precept study of these verses led us to 2 Chronicles 20:1-30, known as Jehoshaphat’s Prayer. Let’s set the scene: Tribes were battling against Jehoshaphat and the kingdom of Judah he led. He was afraid, prayed, and proclaimed a fast. He sought the Lord and worshiped. Battles were raging around him, yet he continued to praise God, who fought for him. Jehoshaphat and his people prayed, listened, and waited. Then they returned with joy, rejoicing over their enemy. Ultimately, Jehoshaphat found peace and rest.
How in the world did he find peace in the midst of chaos?
He humbled himself before God and even before his family and followers. Jehoshaphat didn’t have all the answers, but he had his faith. “… For we are powerless against this great horde that is coming against us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you” (2 Chronicles 20:12).
As a mom, especially, I’m going to hold onto the power in saying “I don’t know” and keeping my eyes on God. It sounds simple, I know. But when the questions about plans, dinner, and random facts come, I sometimes get flustered before I turn my gaze to the One who knows all things.
Jehoshaphat’s faith continued to lead his people as the battles raged on. The Spirit of the Lord said to him, “… Thus says the Lord to you, ‘Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed at this great horde, for the battle is not yours by God’s. … You will not need to fight this battle. Stand firm, hold your position, and see the salvation of the Lord on your behalf, O Judah and Jerusalem.’ Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed. Tomorrow go out against them, and the Lord will be with you.” (2 Chronicles 20:15-17)
The great hordes in our lives lately have involved COVID precautions and positive tests that interrupt what we thought would happen, snow and ice storms that prevent plans from happening, transitions in friendships we didn’t expect to change, expectations with our responsibilities, and so much uncertainty with how the world works now. Sometimes telling my kids “I don’t know,” but leading them to gaze on God is all I can do. Some days I need to remember not every battle is mine to fight. Through it all, God is with me.
Jehoshaphat could have been anxious, but he humbled himself instead. To seek the Lord fully, humility is required to surrender our desires for control, our know-it-all attitudes, and our own plans. Humility and anxiety are opposites, which I hadn’t thought of until our study of Philippians 4.
Paul encourages the Philippians in both chapters 2 and 4 to consider the interests of others, which is possible because of humility and leads to unity. That’s what Jehoshaphat did. That’s what I want to do.
Look at Philippians 4:4-7 again:
“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”
There are commands that lead to a great promise. Who doesn’t want the peace of God, even if it surpasses all understanding? Jehoshaphat knew. He was afraid (perhaps, anxious is even a better word there) but he turned that feeling into a prayer that expressed needs with thanksgiving. He made his requests known to God with an attitude of humility, considering others. He experienced peace so great he worshiped despite the chaos of the world. His obedience led to protection for him and his kingdom, so much so “his God gave him rest all around” (2 Chronicles 2:30).
Rest from the anxiety. Rest from the battles. Rest from the striving to satisfy his own interests. Rest from the world.
Isn’t that we all need? Truth is, it’s possible – even promised – thanks to Jesus.
Nobody told me to share this study with you, but this is the second blog post I’ve written about it. (Read the one inspired by Philippians 3 here.) It’s my own therapy and desire to remember that has prompted writing, but I figured somebody else may be encouraged too.