Welcome to the In Touch Podcast with Charles Stanley for Monday, February 7th. Are you facing an overwhelming problem that seems too big to handle? See how the hope that kept King Jehoshaphat going can be your hope too. Some time ago I found myself facing a situation that caused me to feel very helpless. I didn't know what to do.
I didn't know which way to turn. I knew I didn't have a solution whatsoever. That helplessness means that you have passed the point of personal manipulation. That there's not anything you can do. Helplessness means that you are now at the mercy of God.
Well, I think I've been there enough times in my life to have learned exactly what to do. And that is to open God's Word and to find the passage of Scripture with those principles that'll help me through that particular situation. So, what I'd like to do in this passage today, I want to talk about this simple theme, when we feel helpless.
And I want you to turn to a passage in which you will find the principles of how you're not to respond when we have that helpless feeling. When we don't know what to do next. We don't know which way to turn. It seems that we don't have a solution.
We don't know where to go. I want you to turn, if you will, to Second Chronicles chapter twenty. And this passage of Scripture is Jehoshaphat's response to what he says is a very helpless, a very powerless situation, which he did not know what to do next. So, I want us to read these first four verses together to give us a little background. Now, it came about after this that the sons of Moab and the sons of Ammon, together with some of the Munites, came to make war against Jehoshaphat. Then some came and reported to Jehoshaphat, saying, A great multitude is coming against you from beyond the sea, out of Aram, and behold, they are in Hazazan-Tamar that is in Gedi. Jehoshaphat was afraid, and turned his attention to seek the Lord, and proclaimed the fast throughout all Judah. So Judah gathered together to seek help from the Lord. They even came from all the cities of Judah to seek the Lord.
Now, somebody says, Well, now, wait a minute. Does not the Bible say, Fear not, fear not, fear not? Did not David say that throughout the Psalms, and did not Jesus say that?
That's true. Does that mean that no Christian is ever expected to be afraid under any condition? That is not what it means. God knows that there will be circumstances, sometimes instantaneous, unseeable circumstances, and unforeseeable things that you and I will not be able to foresee and predict that will happen in our lives. And so therefore, it may be that at the moment we first hear them, we are gripped with fear. Because our first sudden response is, I don't know what to do.
I don't know which way to turn. Anytime we feel helpless, what we have done is we are experiencing what it means to feel out of control. The feeling of being out of control is always a fearful position to be in. But those of us who have trusted Jesus Christ as our Savior, and we know the Almighty God of the universe personally as a result of our relationship to Jesus, we know what to do when gripped with fear, and that that fear should only last a few moments. And what I want you to see in this first principle here is simply this, that Jehoshaphat was fearful for those moments, but he made the wisest decision he could ever have made. And this is the first thing that you and I should do whenever we feel helpless, and that is to turn our eyes to seek the Lord.
The first principle above all the rest, turn our eyes to seek the Lord. Because the first word that should come out of our mouth when we feel helpless is Father. Because what that does is this, it is a sudden recognition of Almighty God. It is a sudden recognition that we have help. It is a sudden recognition that we have someone to turn to. It is an instantaneous igniter of my faith.
When I know that I can turn to Him, look to Him, and respond to Him, I know in my heart I have someone that I can turn to that I may feel helpless at the moment, but I am not hopeless as long as there is a God. And this is exactly what he did. The Scripture says he was afraid, he turned his attention to seek the Lord, and he proclaimed affairs throughout all Judah.
Now one thing wise here that's very evident that he was a wise man is this. He did not only turn to God himself, he sent out the Word, and he was asking all of the people of Judah to fast and pray. And so the Scripture says Judah gathered together to seek help from the Lord.
They even came from all the cities of Judah to seek the Lord. Let me ask you this. Do you have someone, anyone in whom you have confidence, any friend in your life to whom you can go when you have those helpless feelings, when you don't know what to do next, you don't know where to turn, and you know that, listen, you have passed the point of personal manipulation, you can't make it work. Is there somebody you can pray with, somebody you can call upon? Here's what I'm feeling.
Here's what's happening in my life. I don't know what to do. I don't know where to turn.
I feel absolutely helpless. There's something about knowing that somebody is calling your name before God. And here was Jehoshaphat the king who was saying, Oh Lord, and we're going to see in just a few moments, he said, we're powerless, we don't know what to do. He said, I don't know what to do.
And so what did he do? He did the smartest, wisest thing he could do. He gathered people around him who would pray for him and pray for the nation and who would pray that God would give him wisdom to know what to do and how to go about it. There is something about in a moment of fear, simply crying out to God, Oh Father, because what you have done, you have tapped, listen, you have tapped the eternal omnipotence of the living God who made us the promise when he said, he said he will enable, he will help, he will become involved in the life of the person who waits upon him. That is, instead of running to someone else first, first of all, Father, it ignites faith, it stirs something within us and it gives us instantaneous hope. We have hope that our God will see us through this. So when you hit those times that you don't know what to do and why to turn next, and there is no way to turn it seems, the first thing we do is we turn our hearts towards seeking the Lord in prayer, asking for his direction. And if you are one of those blessed people who has one or more folks, one or more people to whom you can go and say to them or call them, this is what I'm facing, would you please pray for me. Ask God to show me what to do, how to do it and how to go about it.
God will hear your plea to him. The second thing I want you to notice in this passage is this, that the second thing Jehoshaphat did is one of the wisest things you and I can do. And that is to recall God's past deliverances in our life. That is because all of us who are believers, we have a heritage. We've trusted the Lord Jesus Christ over the years.
We've watched God work in our life. And those of us who keep a diary, we have recorded what he has done. And I say to you over and over and over again, you ought to keep a diary. You ought to write it down.
And many of you have started keeping diaries. You've begun to write it down. And what happens is when you don't, you will forget. Satan will see to it that you forget it because, listen, you may recall in distant times past how God has worked to some degree.
And all you remember is a minuscule part of that. When you take the time to write it down, here's what you do. You'll express your feelings at that moment. You'll express how you feel. You'll express your fears. You'll express your hope. You'll express your faith.
You'll put down in whether it's pencil or pen on paper, you will describe your feelings that nobody else can describe for you. And if you don't, you will forget it. Now a lot of people say, well, I just don't have time to do that. You mean to tell me you don't have time to write down what God has done in your life? You don't have time to record the blessings of God?
And the truth is, here's what that'll do to you. It'll make you become more sensitive to God's actions in your life daily, little things that He does. Not just the big things, not just answered prayer, but you will begin to see and begin to observe things that you never saw before.
When you and I begin to record and decide we're going to record the events in our life, here's what happens. Those things that get washed out in a general view of your daily life, all of a sudden you see this from a different perspective and that and you see that's the hand of God. Well, look what God did.
Look how He answered that. Look how God spoke. Look how He provided this in my life. And what happens is your life takes on a whole different spiritual level because you're beginning to see things you have never seen before of the hand and presence and purpose and plan and work of God in your life.
What is the third principle here? Look at this if you will. The third thing I want you to notice is this, that He affirmed His faith in the living God. It is not enough to pray and say, Lord, here's my need, here's my situation, here's my circumstance. There's something about affirming that faith. That is, confessing that faith. We can confess and affirm, God, here's my circumstance, here's my situation, here's how helpless and hopeless I feel. And Lord, I don't know which way to turn. And we can go on and on and on in our prayers about how bad things are, how hopeless it looks like to us and how helpless we feel. And God, why don't you do this?
We can go on and on and on. There's something about affirming our faith. And I want you to notice here how He does this. Look if you will in verse nine. He said, let's go back to verse eight.
He said, speaking of the nation of the past, they've lived in it. They've built you a sanctuary. Therefore your name, saying, and this is what they prayed, should evil come upon us, the sword or judgment or pestilence or famine, we will stand before this house and before you, for your name is in this house. And we will cry to you in our distress, and you will hear and deliver us.
Now think about this for a moment. What is fear but an emotion? An emotion that can so grip us that it can absolutely paralyze us from acting. Fear is destructive. Fear causes all kinds of problems in our life. So we can either be afraid and fear is simply emotion. An emotion. You say, well, I just can't overcome it.
Yes, you can. If you're an unbeliever, you don't know Christ as your Savior. You don't know God as your Father.
You're right. There may be times when you can't. But every single believer has within him and her the power to overcome fear. We have the power to move from fear to faith. We can step up out of the slime pits of fear onto the, listen, godly level of faith.
How do we do that? It's an act of our mind. It's a choice we make. It is a decision that we make. So when somebody says, well, I'm just gripped with fear, I don't know what to do. I understand that. You don't have to stay in that position.
We've all been there for either a few seconds or a few moments or maybe a few days or a few weeks and some people a lot longer than that. Living in fear, living under this awesome, horrible cloud of fear, what's going to happen next door? I don't know what to do next door. I don't know what kind of decision to make.
You don't have to stay there. It is a decision you make. What is the decision we make?
Here's the decision we make. We will stand before the living God. We will cry out to the living God and our God will deliver us. He will give us a sense of direction.
He will show us what to do. We may feel helpless, but we are not hopeless. No child of God has ever been hopeless when it comes to the reality of things. You may feel fearful. You may feel absolutely helpless to change your circumstances. But if God is your God, you have no reason to be hopeless.
No reason to be hopeless whatsoever. And so what did He say? He said they stood before the house of the Lord.
He said they cried out to God and they cried out and they said, you will deliver us. That is an affirmation of faith. I'm trusting my God. Now the problem is this.
Often times when we start praying, the more we pray and the longer we pray, we build up this awesome case against ourself. God, I feel so helpless. I feel so hopeless.
I don't know what to do. Nobody cares. Things are bad. All of that is negative affirmations. Whatever happened to the sovereign, omnipotent God who loves you unconditionally. Don't even say those kind of things.
They don't fit who you are. You're a child of an omnipotent God. What did He pray?
He said, oh Lord, the God of our fathers, are you not the God in the heavens? Are you not the ruler over all the kingdoms of the nations? Power and might are in your hands so that no one can stand against you. Listen, no obstacle, no obstruction, no enemy, no matter what, can overpower the child of the living God walking in faith. Does that mean that you'll not be persecuted? No. Does that mean that some people will not lose their lives because of their faith?
No. It simply means this, that even in death they still conquer. If that is the will of God in times of persecution, you still conquer because absent from the body, present with the Lord.
Well, I want you to notice another principle here. And that is, it's not enough to cry out to God, but we must be willing to confess our helpless feeling. If we don't confess it, it's because we're going to figure out somehow to manipulate our circumstances. There are situations and circumstances in which people get in that they are helpless, but they won't, they deny it. Well, I'll figure it out somehow.
I'll manage somehow. And sometimes when you start talking to those people about the Lord, they get so turned off because, the reason they're turned off is because of their pride. No one wants to admit, I don't know what to do next, I'm absolutely helpless as to what to do, except a committed child of God who is at least learning the ways of God. There's nothing wrong with saying, I don't know what to do next. There's nothing wrong with saying, at this moment and this situation in my life, I feel so helpless.
There's nothing wrong with that. It's what you do following that. And so if you deny your feeling of helplessness, you deny that you're in desperate need, what you will do, you will try to manipulate and work at your circumstances to suit you and more than likely you're going to do the wrong thing.
You see, listen to this. There's nothing wrong with feeling helpless. In fact, I guarantee you at some point or point, so many times in your life, God is going to arrange to bring you to the place of helplessness. In fact, that's how a lot of people get saved. When they have exhausted everything they know how to do to manage their life and it ends up in an absolute total disaster, how many people have said, God just brought me to the end of myself, which means, listen, He shut me up to my own failures and He's the only one I had to turn to and I trusted Him as my Savior and God has transformed my life. So feeling helpless is not all that bad if we respond in the right fashion.
Sometimes people deny the fact that they're feeling helpless and so I think that's a matter of pride. I'll handle it. I'll make out. Just don't worry about it. And I have said to a few people, not many people in life, well, I just want you to know I'm going to be praying for you. Well, that's okay.
Thank you very much. But I'm sure it'll all work out. I'm not sure it'll all work out. There's some things, listen to me, friend. There's some things you are not going to be able to work out. There's some circumstances and situations you can't handle. So what do you do? You go get a drink or you take some drug or you do something else.
In other words, get it off your mind for a while, but it doesn't go away. You'll never be able to live in contentment and joy and peace and happiness and the grace of God until you learn to be able to say, God, I need You. I desperately need You, Father. I don't know what to do.
I don't know what to turn. I need You. Now the cry, what does it mean to cry to God?
It simply means this. It is a spontaneous response to an urgent need that I have. Oh, Father.
Oh, Father, a spontaneous, listen, I don't have to pre-plant it. It's just a spontaneous response to an urgent need. God hears what's happening. And I received a call from someone in a distant state and when they finished telling me what they were facing and the uncertainty of it, I got on my knees before God and I wept and wept and wept and wept and the reason I did was because I couldn't fix them. I couldn't change the situation.
I couldn't help them. But I could cry out to God and call their name and plead for God to do something in their behalf so that physically they would be well. We cry out to God because there's a sense of urgency, a spontaneous sense of urgency.
If you came to me and said, let me tell you what I'm facing in life. Spontaneously I would want to cry out to God on your behalf because the things I know I can't fix in somebody else's life and I can't change in their life as much as I would like to, but I can cry to God and ask God to do it. And so this whole idea of crying out to Him and admitting the fact that this situation is hopeless and helpless and what we're doing is this. Listen, when you say, God, I feel helpless, what you're saying is in my circumstance, God, you must do it. If you don't do it, God, it's not going to get done. And there's nothing wrong with saying, God, you must do it. What I'm saying is, God, I have exhausted all possibilities.
I'm absolutely helpless. God, you must do it. Does God love to hear that? He loves to hear that. You know why He loves to hear that?
Because what that means is finally He's got you where you want, He wants you. You can't do a thing about your circumstance. We don't like it. It's painful. We'd like to change it and sometimes He's not going to let us change it. He is going to squeeze us to the point that there is absolutely nothing left of our possibility of manipulating and changing things. And then we have to lift our hearts in humility before Him and say, Dear God, please change my circumstance. Thank you for listening to When We Feel Helpless. If you'd like to know more about Charles Stanley or InTouch Ministries, stop by InTouch.org. This podcast is a presentation of InTouch Ministries, Atlanta, Georgia.
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