In the midst of distress (and let’s be honest, 2020 is full of it), we need to know as God’s people how to respond. As I was studying 2 Chronicles 15, I found a “method of operation” written by God for situations of suffering and anguish. These measures are for your own heart. I still believe we must take physical action, but this is if you need a little tender loving care for your mental and spiritual well being. A prophet inspired by God’s Spirit came to tell the king of Judah, Asa, how to respond correctly to God in times of distress. Once he encouraged King Asa of the importance to seek God, these are the action steps he took.
“For a long time Israel was without the true God, without a priest to teach and without the law. But in their distress they turned to the Lord, the God of Israel, and sought Him, and He was found by them.” 2 Chronicles 15: 3-4
Tear Down Idols
Judah had been unfaithful to God and made idols and images of other gods and worshiped them instead of worshiping the only true God. Thus Asa’s first step was to tear down all the detestable idols. For us, that would mean analyzing in our own lives what our idols are. Although I’d be willing to bet they aren’t golden calves or Asherah poles, maybe our idols are social media, being a good wife and mother, the security of money, success in our jobs, etc. Ask God to search your heart for the things you may be holding onto too tightly. An idol is anything that you put above God. You may not think at first you have any, but I guarantee we all do. Really take time to analyze what yours are and then tear them down. Take the necessary steps to not depend on these things any more. I think now is the perfect time to do this. For a lot of us, the reason it’s such a scary time is because a lot of the things we depended on before God are being stripped from us. I promise I’m not shaming (it’s perfectly normal to be stressed about important things in life that we need in order to live), but does it mean your life is over if these things get taken from you? Is God truly who you turn to first in times of trouble? Can you really say, “if all these things get taken from me, I will still rejoice because I have God and He’s truly all I need”? I honestly don’t know if I’m even there yet. It’s a difficult thing to swallow. But He really is the bread of life. He really is worth it all. He is worth losing everything, as long as we still have Him.
Repair God’s Altar
The next step King Asa took was to repair God’s altar. So after identifying and tearing down the idols in your life and your dependence on them, look at the places you must now repair and allow God to come in and put on the salve. When you put things before God, it tears away at your relationship with Him. So now, analyze those areas where your relationship with God has a rip in it and begin the repair work. Again though, this is not only on you. You don’t have the power to fix your own heart, only God can do that. Seek Him and ask Him to repair the broken pieces of your heart toward Him. Where do you have distrust? What made you put these idols before Him and trust them more than Him? Work through it. God wants you to do this, so I promise He will answer you if you truly are seeking Him with a humble and willing heart.
Ask Others to Come Alongside You
Next, Asa gathered many of God’s faithful people together. Okay. I know gathering is basically illegal in some places still, but we live in an era of technology that allows us to unite even when separated (praise God!). So share where your heart is with your friends or close family; they’re probably feeling similarly. Come together over Facetime or a call so they can share in this with you or be an encouragement to you in your striving to draw nearer to God.
As the people were gathered, they sacrificed to God. If you’re a more private person, I think you can do this on your own (although fellowship with other believers is something God wants for us). In the Old Testament, which is where 2 Chronicles is located, the people sacrificed animals to God. It was payment for their sins, a sign of repentance, and asking God to forgive them (this was before Jesus came to be the living and final sacrifice for our sins so we don’t have to do this any more). But because Jesus has come and paid it all, us sacrificing now looks like just repenting and asking God to forgive our sins. This isn’t where you do something you know is wrong over and over and just afterward ask God to forgive you again because you aren’t following what He’s asking of you. That is just living in sin and not having a heart after God. True repentance is getting knocked down to your knees, feeling the weight of your sin, seeing the darkness and wickedness of your heart, and being genuinely remorse about what you’ve done, vowing to fight against this sin daily and not fall back into it.
If you’re not a Christian, this means coming to realize you can’t just be your own version of “moral” and be alright. You need God, no matter who you are. None of us are exempt from this raw need and desire, though you may not realize it yet. God is the one thing that will finally satisfy that void you’ve been trying to fill with love, success, a false sense of control, etc.
If you are a Christian, this means examining your heart and asking God to search it out and expose the filth you’ve been pushing down. Although you know Him and have a relationship with Him (praise God!) , you’re still human and the flesh will win many times. What has the flesh been dominating lately in your life? What do you need God to call out a victory over in your heart? You know. And He knows. Feel the gravity of that and dig deep to expose the dirt and evil you’ve been harboring. He will show you. Weep and repent of this. Turn from your sin and give it over to God.
Enter a Covenant
What’s the next proper step after repenting of your sin and giving that area of your life back to Him? King Asa and the gathering believers did it next, and so should you. They entered into a covenant with God to seek Him. If you’re not a Christian, this simply means giving your life to Christ, understanding that Jesus died so that you could have a relationship with the King of all Kings, the Lord our God. This means putting your whole life in God’s hands and accepting that He is not only your Savior but Lord of your life, which means you must do what He commands and not just what your moral compass tells you. If you are a Christian, this means rededicating the part of your life you’ve been sinning in and turning it over to God to be Lord over that area once again.
The last thing King Asa did after dedicating himself to God, was to even remove his own mom from her title of queen mother because she had built false idols and worshiped them in their home. What I believe this means for us, is that becoming a Christian and following wholly after God means making really difficult and tough decisions. Sometimes it’s within your own family, and other times it’s having to say no to things your flesh really desires such as sex before marriage, going to that party, or being the only person to stand up for God when everyone else is sitting down. Being a Christian isn’t easy, but if I’ve realized one thing through all of the difficulties of 2020, it’s that I honestly would be completely at a loss and so scared if I didn’t have the comfort and peace of God. And I know people say that a lot but for me, it is 100% true. I cannot be without Him. I will crumble. And I bet a lot of you are crumbling because you don’t actually know Him intimately. You can know a lot about someone (a celebrity, someone you follow on Instagram, etc.) but if they don’t know you, you definitely don’t have a relationship with that person. The same goes for God. You can know a lot about Him without actually having a relationship with Him. And if that’s the case at the end of your life, unfortunately He will say to you, “Depart from me, I never knew you,” (Matthew 7:23).
I truly believed I was a Christian for the first 21 years of my life. When I realized I wasn’t and I desperately needed God, I had an identity crisis because I was so convinced I knew Him. Turned out, I just knew a lot about Him, but if I had died before then, He would’ve said to me, “Depart from me, I never knew you” (Matthew 7:23). Now that. That is a sobering and frankly scary thought. But now I don’t have that fear because I know I have a relationship with Him, and there’s only deeper growth from here!
If you have any doubt, please just ask God to search your heart and show you. He will dear friend, I promise! One of the deepest desires of God’s is for you to know Him, to love Him, and to follow Him all the days of the rest of your life.
I pray you read this with love and hear my heart. Please reach out to me. I’d love to talk to you about this or be the start of your community of believers if you don’t have anyone.
Stay encouraged. Take courage and take action!
Much love in Christ.