I’ve been slowly reading through a really great chronological Bible reading plan. Today’s reading was from 2 Chronicles 16. I’m reading through it, thinking, “Ok, what am I supposed to learn from this text today?” Then I keep reading a few verses down, and it was like, Bam! That’s what I needed to hear. Have you ever experienced that as you’re reading God’s Word? I hope you have. God’s Word is so deep and rich, I can only scratch the surface of its hidden treasures each time I read it. In 2 Chronicles, I’ve been reading about a lot of different kings of Israel and Judah (during the time the kingdom of Israel separated from Judah), some who did good in the eyes of the Lord but a lot who did evil. One king during this time was King Asa. He was a king of Judah who ruled for 41 years. That is an incredibly long time. He followed God, and God promised that He would remain with Asa as long as he sought Him. As a result of Asa following Him, God gave Judah peace for the first 35 years of his reign.
But then we read in chapter 16 the beginning of King Asa’s downfall. He made a deal with the king of Syria in order to gain protection from the people of Israel. It’s implied in the text that he did not seek the Lord in this. In verses 7-9 we read what happens after making this deal with a foreign nation:
“At that time Hanani the seer came to Asa king of Judah and said to him, ‘Because you relied on the king of Syria, and did not rely on the Lord your God, the army of the king of Syria has escaped you. Were not the Ethiopians and the Libyans a huge army with very many chariots and horsemen? Yet because you relied on the Lord, he gave them into your hand. For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to give strong support to those whose heart is blameless toward him. You have done foolishly in this, for from now on you will have wars.’”
Asa, angered at Hanani’s words, threw him in prison and lashed out at some of his people in rage. And yet, it is clear that this consequence is a result of Asa turning to a human king for help instead of the One True King. He turned to what seemed like a quick fix, instead of fixing his eyes on God.
Unfortunately though, Asa does not learn from this mistake. If we keep reading in verse 12, we see his path continue in this way:
“In the thirty-ninth year of his reign Asa was diseased in his feet, and his disease became severe. Yet even in his disease he did not seek the Lord, but sought help from physicians.”
Once again, Asa seeks help from a human source and forsakes his God. He then goes on to die two years later.
So what do we learn from this? Not to make good negotiations and deals with humans or not to seek help from doctors? No, I don’t believe that’s it. It all comes down to who do we turn to first when we are in distress? Oh, how easy it is to turn to other people and forms of common grace that the Lord has given us, like medicine, before we even think to seek the Lord first. How many times have I done this just in the past week? Unfortunately far more often than I would like to admit.
For instance, just last Wednesday, I woke up with a lot of pain in my neck. What did I do? I would love to say that I turned to the Lord and asked for His healing and that I asked for wisdom on how to best treat the pain before I proceeded to treat it myself. But I didn’t. Instead, I started massaging it, did neck stretches, and reminded myself that my chiropractor appointment was just days away so I just needed to push through until then. Did I ever turn to the Lord that day or the days following when I woke up in pain again? No. I know that seems so minor, but speaking for myself, I so often turn to other things and people to help before turning my attention to God. It doesn’t mean that, in my example above, if I had turned to God right away that He would have healed me right then. Just like we don’t know what would have happened if King Asa had turned to God when his feet became diseased. Would God have healed him quickly before they became severe? There are times when we turn to Him and don’t get what we want or what we think is best. But the exercise of turning to Him in dependence and full reliance is what He calls us to do. We don’t turn to Him as if He were a “Genie God” who will grant us whatever we ask of Him. We should turn to Him in acknowledgement that He is sovereign over every situation, good or bad. We acknowledge His presence in our life and that He is working out His good and perfect will. He may use physicians, friends, family members, or any number of things to work out His will. All He asks is that we seek Him first in faith and trust that He will help us in our situation.
Psalm 121:1-2 says,
“I lift up my eyes to the hills.
From where does my help come?
My help comes from the Lord,
who made heaven and earth.”
We have to remember that ultimately our help comes from the Lord. That is why we turn to Him in any and every situation. Only He knows what instruments of grace He may use to help us or what miraculous working He may do. Our job is to seek and trust Him in that moment and then experience the peace of letting go of our illusion of control.
Lord, forgive me for all the times I haven’t lifted my eyes up to you when I’ve needed help. You are the giver of all good things, and while you are not a Genie God, you are a God who is intricately involved in every part of my life. Help me to turn to You and trust that You will provide help for me however it works best in your plan: healing, strength, peace, grace, or any other number of ways. Thank You for loving me time and time again when I just don’t get this right. I love you. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Pressing on in faith, Jennifer