This week we started a new sermon series for the month of June that asks the question, “Does God have a Stimulus Plan?” We might also phrase it, “How will God respond to our economic recession?” Yet another way of asking the question is, “How does God want ME to respond to our economic recession?”
Unlike the Old Testament prophets, who were given specific messages by God, I’m very reluctant to connect national economic suffering with particular moral issues. I don’t believe that there is necessarily a cause and effect relationship between suffering and sin. BUT, in light of so many Scriptural examples (eg. Judges 6:1) where God sends national suffering as punishment, I believe that it is prudent for us each to examine our lives for sin. A national recession could prompt a national repentence, not because it’s judgment, but because it encourages a self-examination of our lives and relationship with God.
In preparing this sermon I think I found a new favorite Bible passage. 2 Chronicles 20 contains a wonderful story of the faith of Jehoshaphat, a Godly king of Judah. When confronted by “a vast army” he brings all the people together and prays a prayer of complete dependence on God. Let me highlight a couple of verses,If calamity comes upon us, whether the sword of judgment, or plague or famine, we will stand in your presence before this temple that bears your Name and will cry out to you in our distress, and you will hear us and save us. Our God, will you not judge them? For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.” (2 Chronicles 20:9, 12)
That’s a great example of faith, and a prayer I can relate to. I can definitely think of times in my life when all I’ve been able to pray is “I don’t know what to do, except to trust you, God.”
But Jehoshaphat also put his words into action. As his army marched out to confront the enemy “he appointed men to sing to the Lord and to praise him for the splendor of his holiness as they went out at the head of the army, saying: Give thanks to the Lord, for his love endures forever.” I struggle to imagine this scene. Going to battle against a vast army, with no practical reason to think they’ll be coming home again, but singing praise and thanks to God for his everlasting love. I can think of no greater example of faith.
Do you have a favorite example of faith that you’d like to share with us? Do you find these examples encouraging in difficult times or do they just seem surreal and distant from your situation? Please leave a comment and share your thoughts.