Just over two years ago my wife and I were convinced that God was calling us to plant Riverside Church. We are still convinced that He called us to move out of our comfort zone: to leave our church community and dearly loved friends, quit our jobs, move to another part of town, take our kids out of one school and put them in another, and to do something we’ve never done before and weren’t sure we could do. Two years later we have seen God do many wonderful things in our lives and the lives of our little house church. But there have been many hard times, too. Right now we’re experiencing one of those hard times. Through it all, I’ve been faced with the fact that I am more fearful than faith-full. I don’t suspect I would have seen that if the Lord hadn’t pushed me out of my comfort zone and into the “unknown.”
Today, the story of Jehoshaphat and his pithy prayer have given me hope that the Father can move me from fear to freedom:
“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)
Isn’t [Jehoshaphat’s prayer] a beautiful confession? It is so child-like in its humility and faith. It is, in fact, another Old Testament picture of the gospel. We are powerless to save ourselves. But when we look to God and call on him for deliverance from the impending judgment, he brings about a salvation beyond our wildest imagination.
The reason God orchestrated Jehoshaphat’s predicament is the same as his design in the tribulations and crises in our lives: he want us to increasingly find freedom from fear.
You see, real freedom is not the liberty to do what we want, or even the absence of distress. Real freedom is the deep-seated confidence that God really will provide everything we need. The person who believes this is the freest of all persons on earth, because no matter what situation they find themselves in, they have nothing to fear.
But the only way for sinners like us with a bent toward unbelief in God to find this kind of freedom is by experiencing repeatedly God’s delivering power and his faithfulness. That’s why we are to count it all joy when we meet trials of various kinds (James 1:2). They are making us free.