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“We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon you.” (2 Chronicles 20:12)
In 2 Chronicles 20, we read a story of an army from Edom that was attacking Judah, the southern kingdom of Israel, and its king, Jehoshaphat. In response to the threat, Jehoshaphat proclaims a fast, and people from all over gather at the temple to ask God for help. Jehoshaphat prays, recounting how God has come through in the past for His people. And then, in verse 12, he says, “O our God, will you not judge them? For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon you.” As the people pray, God’s Spirit comes upon a man named Jahaziel, who prophesies and tells them to go out to fight the army and to not be afraid, for the Lord will be with them. Jehoshaphat sends out the army, but incredibly, at the head of the army he places not the strongest fighting men, but rather a group of men worshiping the Lord. And in verse 21, we read “As they began to sing and praise, the LORD set ambushes against the men of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir who were invading Judah, and they were defeated.”
When I heard this story recently, I was struck by the bold leadership decisions that Jehoshaphat made. His first response when he is faced with the threat of an invading army is not to gather the fighting men to defend the kingdom, but to call a prayer meeting and declare a fast. And when he sends the army out to battle, he leads not with the strongest warriors but with the choir. And the Lord honors their devotion and defeats their enemies.
I found it particularly bold for Jehoshaphat to admit “we do not know what to do.” Certainly he had plenty of ideas of what he could do. He had many options before him as a leader, strategies he could use to defend his nation. He could have gathered the people together to cast vision, boost morale, and instill confidence in his plan. Admitting that you don’t know what to do as a leader in front of the people who are afraid for their life and looking to you for direction is a pretty risky move! Nevertheless, his humility ends up being wiser than his most well-thought-out plan ever could have been, as it allows God to lead the way and win the victory.
We are in the middle of a 21-day season of fasting and praying as a church. As you spend this time seeking the Lord, where can you honestly admit that you don’t know what to do? Where have your best-laid plans failed, and your manmade strategies fallen short? Admitting defeat or ignorance is not always a sign of failure. As we see in 2 Chronicles 20, that kind of humility is often the first step towards seeing the power of God displayed in your life. The second step is found in the second half of verse 12: “our eyes are upon you.” Lord, I don’t know what to do, but my eyes are upon you. And the third step is found in obeying whatever He tells you to do. You may not know what to do, but there is One who knows the answer, so lift your eyes up to Him today.