In life we pass through rough patches that we would rather never face, which leave us in pain and sometimes at a loss. When loved ones pass away, sicknesses put us down, loss of jobs, failure in interviews or even natural disasters such as tsunamis and droughts come to our lives more often than not we are left scarred in pain. Sometimes life just happens and we can do nothing about the events, complaining and thinking over them only leaves us in frustration because they are beyond our control. However how we react to the events is within our control as we can choose to either remain weeping in despair or dust ourselves off and move on with hope of a better tomorrow.
Given that troubles in life are inevitable, learning how to react towards them is crucial especially before they come to pass. Just as a soldier prepares for war in training when there is peace and implements the strategy when it comes to the time of war, we also have to prepare ourselves deliberately for the ups and downs of life. The events may be inevitable and beyond our control but how we react is within our scope of influence and it can only be done in preparation; it can only be done by learning the art of war.
A story is told about Ahaz, king of Judah who was facing attacks on his kingdom from Rezin, king of Syria and Pekah, king of Israel. And as the war progressed and Syria’s forces got deployed in Ephraim, fear gripped King Ahaz and his people as destruction seemed closer home. Scripture describes their fear this way, “So his heart (Ahaz) and the heart of his people were moved as the trees of the woods are moved with the wind.” However the Lord sent prophet Isaiah to King Ahaz with a word of counsel on how he was to set his heart and actions in preparation of the war which I think correlates to our present time troubles.
- Mind Control
God knew that their biggest enemy was not King Rezin or King Pekah, rather it was within them. The battle began in their minds and unless they came to a place of winning from inside they could not do it on the outside. God was not calling them to ignore facts about their situation but He was telling them that solutions could only come from a higher level of thinking. We cannot solve problems with the same level of thinking as the problems. God was saying the only way to solve their big problems was not to run around worrying but to stand still and wait on His power. Running around blocks our minds from solutions; stillness opens our mind to solutions.
Isaiah 7:4-9 … “Take heed and be quiet; do not fear or be fainthearted for these two stubs of smoking firebrands, for the fierce anger of Rezin and Syria, and the son of Remaliah. Because Syria, Ephraim, and the son of Remaliah have plotted evil against you, saying, ‘Let us go up against Judah and destroy it, and let us make a gap in its wall for ourselves, and set a king over them, the son of Tabel.” Thus says the Lord God: “It shall not stand, nor shall it come to pass; for the head of Syria is Damascus and the head of Damascus is Rezin. Within sixty five years Ephraim will be broken, so that it will not be a people. The head of Ephraim is Samaria and the head of Samaria is Remaliah. If you will not believe, surely you shall not be established.”
In the army barracks, soldiers receive training and strategy about the war guided by the generals. The biggest part of the war is not in the field but their mental preparedness. They need to understand strategy and also have to believe that they are winning. An army’s strength lies in its mental will and belief to win more than its physical prowess. Just as an army general, God was telling King Ahaz of how those who attack them would fall later on. He was being given a prophetic word to increase his hope in winning. Eventually the Lord says unless King Ahaz believes, they will not win; it all came down to winning from the inside out.
We also have to control our minds if we expect to overcome our situations and some stand out from scripture as the best ways of building that mental muscle:
- Quietness- it is so hard to listen to instructions in a room full of noise and the same applies to our minds, we need to keep our minds in stillness. At times we bring the self-defeating thoughts into our lives by grumbling and complaining. Life and death are in the power of the tongue and so if no good thing comes from our mouths, it is better to remain silent. The people we surround ourselves with may well be the noise in our lives if all they bring to the table is negativity. People who do not encourage you to move on in faith are like fellow soldiers who see themselves as weak, keeping them around you in the battlefield will lead to your death. The secret to quietness is simply blocking all negativity.
- Take heed- when we are done with the noise we are ready to listen. This calls for a time of meditation and self-reflection. Listening to God’s counsel is coming to that point of confirming your inability and tapping to His capabilities. We voice our concerns in prayer and read His word to encourage ourselves as He speaks to us. Listening gives us the strategy to winning the war.
- No fear- God instructs the people of Judah not to be fainthearted; a soldier who is scared of war has no place in the battlefield. God tells us that we win; all things work together for good those who believe in Him. We have the advantage of knowing the end at the beginning and this is reason enough to cast out all fear. Courage is moving on despite our fears and we need to stride on regardless what we see. Look at God’s greatness and praise Him then fear will slowly disappear.
- Believe- a mental picture needs to form. A soldier has to believe that their strategy will win them the war so that he puts his heart out to seeing it go through. It needs to be established in our hearts that the Lord will come through and He is always on time. Believing gives us the tenacity to press on even when the times seem to worsen.
- War Artillery
It can be hard, at times frustrating to establish in our hearts that God will redeem us. Because He knows our weaknesses, He tells us to ask for signs. In the bible, Gideon had been chosen to lead the Israelites in conquering many nations. The hard thing though, was the fact that he was considered the least likely candidate for the task and sadly he believed it to. However Gideon did not let his lack of belief hold him back rather he asked God to show him signs; it is not that he doubted rather he needed something to encourage him, a power greater than him.
King Ahaz is told to ask for a sign, but he chooses not to do so. It might sound noble and that we do not lack confidence in the Lord, but not asking has the effect of sometimes bringing false hope. God is more than willing to show His might and power in order to strengthen our faith and so even when King Ahaz refused to ask for a sign, God promised Him one anyway, Jesus Christ.
Isaiah 7:11-14 “Ask a sign for yourself from the Lord your God; ask it either in depth or in the height above.” But Ahaz said, “I will not ask, nor will I test the Lord.” Then he (Isaiah) said, “Hear now, O house of David! Is it a small thing for you to weary men, but will you weary my God also? Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.”
The military is defined by its artillery. Weapons of war and technological progress define super powers of the world. Armies that are well equipped and have the best training attract the best soldiers, not only because of good pay, but also due to their competitive advantage. Soldiers get a boost in confidence when they know that their army is better equipped than those they go up against.
In the bible, David, being a soldier, understood the need for this competitive advantage. His prayers were about calling out to God’s power, so that He may show off to his enemies. He understood that there is nothing wrong with asking God to glorify Himself through His powerful wonders. God’s power is there but we need to confidently ask Him to show up in our situations and not view such as signs of unbelief. Pray and ask God for signs. God’s signs strengthen our faith.
- War Tactics
What happens to us during our troubles depending on our response can make us better or worse. As God was giving Ahaz a prophecy about Christ, He explained of the season of lack which would be necessary in order to build in character. He was simply saying there are some things that we only learn through such painful circumstances. I can never really know God as a healer unless I am put in a situation that needs healing. God’s provision becomes a reality during the time of lack, His unconditional love is evident when I am judged and condemned.
Isaiah 7:15-16 “Curds and honey He shall eat, that He may know to refuse evil and choose the good. For before the child shall know to refuse the evil and choose the good, the land that you dread shall be forsaken by both kings.”
At the battlefields strategies are manipulated in ways that fit the realities on the ground. The army with the best tactics in changing with what is happening on the ground wins the war. Good war tactics enable the army to engage in an effective manner and gives them the heart to bear the pain; the soldiers understand that this is not exactly how they had planned it but they keep pushing knowing their change in tact will ensure victory.
We are also refined by our pain and sometimes we need to change our tactics during these troubled times. We are so caught up in the initial plan of God removing the pain that we fail to see how the pain could change our lives for good. We need to change our thinking and see God do a new thing in our lives. Sometimes it may mean going through the pain and we have to decide not to go through it and come out worse rather we need to come out better. We grow to the threshold of our pain, the amount of pain we endure as we change tactics; our tactics are our way of thinking. We will never see the good in our troubles unless we change how we think about them as we go through them; one cannot discover new lands using old maps.
- Spoils of War
As Isaiah spoke the prophecy to King Ahaz, he pointed out to a change in reality. God was saying that after this war, things would be different and that the people of Judah needed to prepare for the new wave. It simply meant that once what they were facing was over, things had to be done differently and the powers that were would no longer be. What had previously been considered as the epitome of greatness would become waste and what was considered as nothing would suddenly become of significance.
Isaiah 7:22-25 So it shall be, from the abundance of milk they give, that he will eat curds; for curds and honey everyone will eat who is left in the land. It shall happen in that day, that wherever there could be a thousand vines worth a thousand shekels of silver, it will be for briers and thorns. With arrows and bows men will come there, because all the land will become briers and thorns. And to any hill which could be dug with a hoe, you will not go there for fear of briers and thorns; but it will become a range for oxen and a place for sheep to roam.
When the war is over, the soldiers do not just pack up and leave, they establish domain on the territory. They take in new things and it becomes their new reality. The people, land, plunder are all assimilated into the new rule. At times what happens to us becomes our new reality and we have to change with the times. Sometimes the pain cannot be reversed such as loss of loved ones but our prayer and hope at such times is not about God removing us from the situation but asking God to help us go through it. When things go as planned well and good yet we still have to plan on how to live out our new reality just as the soldiers need a post war strategy. On the flipside if it does not go as we had planned we need to start seeing how we can live in the new way by God’s help. Either way we have to plan to live in a different way once we go through the pain, otherwise we will be very frustrated trying to cling onto the old. Stop looking for home outside home, there is a new reality.
When it is all said and done problems are bound to rattle our peace here on earth, but we have the choice to either cry at the mercy of the problems or go to the battlefield against the problem. Don’t play victim, make war!
- A Leadership Crisis (jackblackburndotorg.wordpress.com)
Ecclesiastes 1:16-18 I communed with my heart saying, “Look I have attained greatness and have gained more wisdom than all who were before me in Jerusalem. My heart has understood great wisdom and knowledge.” And I set my heart to know wisdom and to know madness and folly. I perceive that this also is grasping for the wind. For in much wisdom is much grief, and he who increases knowledge increases sorrow.
It would not be fair to leave you with this information and let you try to change by your own wisdom and strength-it is like chasing the wind. Only in Jesus Christ does all this make sense and by the guidance of the Holy Spirit will we know the way to go. Say this prayer and receive a new life..
Heavenly Father, I come to You in the Name of Jesus. Your Word says, “Whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Acts 2:21). I am calling on You. I pray and ask Jesus to come into my heart and be Lord over my life, according to Romans 10:9-10—“If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” I do that now. I confess that Jesus is Lord, and I believe in my heart that God raised Him from the dead.
I am now reborn! I am a Christian—a child of Almighty God! I am saved! You also said in Your Word, “If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?” (Luke 11:13). I am also asking You to fill me with the Holy Spirit. Holy Spirit, rise up within me as I praise God. I fully expect to speak with other tongues as You give me utterance (Acts 2:4).
The prayer was obtained from the Kenneth Copeland Ministries.