Two particular stories in Scripture came to mind this morning as I was contemplating this question.
One is from 2 Kings 18 and 19. King Sennacherib of Assyria was threatening King Hezekiah and the city of Jerusalem. His menacing words contained lies and misinformation mingled with bits of truth. This is the way of the enemy. He did it to Adam, he tried it on Jesus, and his tactic is the same with you and me. Don’t buy it. Don’t bite it. Bits of truth, combined with lies, make lies. Brownie batter mixed with a little bunny poop is destined for the compost heap, and truth mixed with lies is no truth at all. It is inedible, undigestible, and downright gag-inducing.
Here’s the strategy that saved Jerusalem when they were threatened with disaster. Try it if you are facing the battle of a lifetime today.
Shut up. Hezekiah’s first strong move was to instruct his people to not respond to the taunts of the enemy. Don’t even speak. There is a time to be quiet, and this was that time. Save your breath to cool your porridge.
Pray up. Don’t underestimate the power of praying friends. King Hezekiah called on the prophet Isaiah. He asked him to pray for them, which he did, and the Israelites were greatly encouraged. True friends will offer affirmation and the word of the Lord. Nurture relationships such as these, friends that will be there for you when the going gets rough. They will help bear the burden. After just a few minutes of talking on the phone with a friend about a challenge I am facing, the confusion and pain is alleviated. I feel lighter, yet stronger.
Gear up. Accept the fact that things can get worse before they get better. Hezekiah receives a scary letter from his enemy. He was tempted to panic, but he did something more productive than fear: he called himself on the carpet: flat out in prayer.
Tidy up. This is God’s part; Hezekiah simply spread the letter out before the Lord. He got on his face and talked to Him with the nasty letter laid bare. Essentially, the Lord’s response was, “I’ll take care of this.” God sent a word to Hezekiah’s enemy. I’m not sure if Sennacherib ever got that literal message, but he got the fulfillment of that message. From that point on Hezekiah knew exactly where God stood in this conflict. Sennacherib was simply distracted by another war, as God had said he would be. Israel was safe.
Thank you, God, that you see the battles I am facing today, and you are engaged, instructing me, encouraging me, and strengthening me for victory. And You have a way out. I am reminded by You that, unlike Hezekiah’s perspective, You teach in your word that my battle is not with flesh and blood, but with the accuser of the brethren whom I defeat by the Blood of the Lamb and the Word of my testimony. Give me grace to do that today. Help me to walk in forgiveness and love. In Jesus Only. Amen.
Do not answer a fool according to his folly, or you yourself will be just like him.
“Now therefore, our God, the great God, mighty and awesome, who keeps his covenant of love, do not let all this hardship seem trifling in your eyes—the hardship that has come on us, on our kings and leaders, on our priests and prophets, on our ancestors and all your people, from the days of the kings of Assyria until today.”