A few weeks back we talked about God’s restoration of the Israelites leaving Babylon and the two responses to trials and suffering. From Mark 8:31-35, Shawn pointed out the two responses are sin (through unbelief) and faith.
Everything made sense, but the restoration of Israel was so huge that it was hard for me to relate. I don’t have such a struggle that has existed in my family for generations. I feel that my battles are much, much smaller. However, in my morning readings recently, I read about King Asa and something clicked. It’s not just about our response to our great trials, but our responses to every challenge throughout our lives, no matter the timing or size.
The story of King Asa is in 2 Chronicles 14-16. Three chapters is a little much to include in this post, so here’s what’s going on. A bit before this, Solomon’s son, Rehoboam, acted foolishly (1 Kings 12; 2 Chronicles 10) and Israel split between Judah and the remaining kingdom of Israel. Because of God’s promise to David, the kings of Judah continue David’s line. Most of the kings neglected the Lord and caused the nation to sin (with the exception of a few good kings). In 2 Chronicles 14, Asa takes the throne and Judah finally has a king who does right in the eyes of the Lord. Throughout chapters 14 and 15, Asa leads a spiritual reform throughout Judah, removing the foreign idols and relying on the Lord when invading armies come against Judah. Because of this, Judah experiences 20 years of peace and rest.
After these 20 years, Israel comes against Judah. Asa takes riches out of the temple and his palace and sends them to the king of Aram to make a treaty. As part of the treaty, Aram attacks Israel so that Israel would withdraw from attacking Judah. Judah is saved and uses the materials left by Israel to build up some cities.
When I read it, I found Asa’s plan during the conflict with Israel to be really clever, so this next part surprised me. The Lord sent Hanani the seer to rebuke Asa and tell him that because Asa relied on the king of Aram and not on the Lord, he will be at war the rest of his life. Asa became angry, imprisoned Hanani, oppressed some of his people, and did not seek help from the Lord the rest of his life. Even when ill with a disease in his feet, Asa would only consult physicians. Asa reigned 41 years, and the first 35 were good and with a focus on the Lord.
Asa’s reign clearly shows the two responses to trials. It’s not about the trial, it’s about trusting the Lord. When Asa chose to rely on Aram instead of the Lord, it wasn’t because these were bigger problems. Asa had faced greater enemies than Israel in the past, and the Lord saved Judah. As Shawn taught, the response of sin is one of unbelief. Asa lost his belief, and you can see that once he embraced his disbelief, he kept it the rest of his life.
More often than not, I am Asa in his later years. For you personality test lovers, I am an Enneagram 5 and Myers-Briggs INTJ. I am heavily reliant on thinking things through and coming up with a plan. I feel secure in a trial when I can see a plan to work everything out. At my core I want this because my tendency is to not believe that God will give me the result I want, and that is gut-wrenching.
Our entire lives we are trained to problem solve and many of our core jobs responsibilities are focused on problem solving. It is not a surprise that we are so quick to use our human resources when faced with a trial.
Faith needs to become our response to all things.
We need faith that God can and will enforce His plan. We need faith that God loves us and His plan is better than anything we can come up with, even if that means the a trial won’t end the way we want.