Strategy for Emergencies: When You Don't Know What to Do

Sam Petitfils 

“O our God, will you not execute judgment on them? 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).

We all face times of crises, when events take a life of their own and seem to run out of control. We make attempts to control the situation, but things only seem to get worse. Godly King Jehoshaphat found himself in a similar situation, and acted with wisdom and was rewarded with success.

In 2 Chronicles 20, Jehoshaphat was surrounded by a mighty alliance of anti-Judean forces bent on destroying them. Assessing the strength of this military alliance, Jehoshaphat immediately turned to the Lord with all his heart and strength, and did not take God’s help for granted. He asked for it. God answered Jehoshaphat’s prayer with a mighty routing of the enemies, a routing that didn’t directly involve Judah’s own military.

Here’s what Jehoshaphat did that was right, and here’s what we can do:

1. Confess our ignorance.
While the old expression “God helps those who help themselves” contains some partial truths, it’s basically a false notion. Actually, God helps those unable to help themselves. In the verse above, Jehoshaphat confesses his ignorance, saying, “We do not know what to do. . .”

Sometimes we present a series of options to God, asking Him to choose for us among them. For example, a young lady may pray, “Lord, shall I accept Bill’s marriage proposal or not?” Well, maybe God has a third option, like “wait,” or “speak to Bill about his career plans that may trouble you.” Confessing our ignorance to God is a spiritual virtue. It empties us of pride and forces us to seek God’s face.

2. Seek God.
Once we confess our ignorance, we should then seek God. Some people seek God only after trying a number of other options, but this is a mistake. Actually we should want God’s approval and blessing on any options we might seek. When we seek God, we should seek His counsel and then pledge to follow it no matter the outcome. God knows best.

3. Wait.
“Wait” is a tough verb to follow, but it may be our only option. God will not disappoint us in the end if we seek Him and wait for His answer. We should not rush to solutions when no good solutions appear. We need to wait upon God until we become assured of His leading. We need to “be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him” (Psalm 37:7). God will not disappoint and will lead us to safety.

Jehoshaphat was not a perfect king, but he displays wisdom here in following a clear formula for crisis management: confess ignorance, seek God, and wait for Him. We should do the same; God will not disappoint us.

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