I know we are all feeling the stress of COVID as we’ve come to adjust to the fact that this is real and we’ve never experienced anything like this before.
I don’t know your story, but we all have one and it is part of God’s bigger story. Your story matters…you matter! In your story, you might be grieving losses, jobs, normalcy, relationships, hopes. There are so many things to grieve, and I feel for you. Let yourself grieve…but that’s not all you need to do.
Your story is important, but I have another story to share with you, too. It’s an ancient story that just might feel new and right for us today in this COVID battle. 2 Chronicles 20 tells us about the Israelite people in dire fear of enemies about to attack them. They don’t downplay the calamity, but they are scared. In their shaking desperation, they turn to God.
Vs 9 ‘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.’
“But now here are men from Ammon, Moab and Mount Seir, whose territory you would not allow Israel to invade when they came from Egypt; so they turned away from them and did not destroy them.
See how they are repaying us by coming to drive us out of the possession you gave us as an inheritance.
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.”
King Jehoshaphat prays a gut honest prayer, crying out that this enemy is too big for them. He prays, “We do not know what to do….BUT our eyes are on you.”
That’s how I’m feeling these days. Maybe you are too. “We do not know what to do….BUT our eyes are on you.” I have to wonder, is this enough? The story goes on:
Vs 13 Then the Spirit of the LORD came on Jahaziel son of Zechariah,
He said: “Listen, King Jehoshaphat and all who live in Judah and Jerusalem! This is what the LORD says to you: ‘Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s.
Tomorrow march down against them. They will be climbing up by the Pass of Ziz, and you will find them at the end of the gorge in the Desert of Jeruel.
You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the LORD will give you, Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the LORD will be with you.’ ”
Then the prophets tell the people to not be afraid, but to prepare, march out to the battle front, and stand firm because God is with them. That’s scary with or without God. But, there is good news. They are told, “The battle is not yours, but God’s….You will not have to fight this battle.” Interesting, they prepare for battle, march out to battle, but won’t be battling?
The story goes on that they went out to fight but instead they sang out praise to God. God set up ambushes and the enemies got all in a tither and destroyed themselves. That’s what happened then, but what about now?
Maybe with COVID we can take some courage to prepare, to not ignore it, to do what we can as advised to fight this monster of a germ, and at the same time know in our heart of hearts that God is ultimately the one we trust and turn to and worship. We will still do our part to prepare to fight, but the battle is the Lord’s.
I take strength from this. Our enemy is a plague, a little tiny germ that is too big for us and we don’t know what to do, just as it was for those Israelites. Yet we turn our eyes on God and keep them there.
You know how it is when someone stares at you? It is inevitable that you end up looking at that person. It’s kind of a creepy feeling to be stared at and you can’t help but look back. When we gaze at God, it gets his attention too and he looks at who is staring at him.
Not only are our eyes on the Lord, but his loving and kind eyes are on us too. He sees us, he sees our hearts, he sees our emotions, he sees our cries and our prayers. He is so aware.
We are in his gaze and he never lets us out of his sight.
Let’s keep our eyes on him. That’s hard because it is so easy to be focused on God one minute and then back on our fears the next minute.
May there be a mutual gazing (God and us) knowing that we see each other. My eyes on him, and his eyes are on me. Be not afraid.
- What does it mean to keep my eyes on the Lord? (ie: Focus, thoughts, emotions, prayers?)
- It is good to remind ourselves what God has done in the past. How has God fought my battles in the past?
- What does it feel like to think that God holds me in his gaze? (ie: Scary, warm, safe, loved?)
We looked at an ancient story, now here’s an old but not ancient gospel tune (sung by Whitney Houston), “His eye is on the Sparrow”.
This song is about God caring for insignificant sparrows, a common and little bird, if his eyes are on the sparrows then they are even more on me. I am not insignificant as a bird! You are not insignificant and he knows your situation.
We don’t know what to do, but our eyes are on you.
Thank you, God, that we can turn to you. We still worship you and thank you that you call us to do what we can, but the battle is yours! Thank you that your eyes are on each one of us. Amen.