Day 6: Hope When You’re Feeling Defeated
Zerah the Ethiopian came out against them with an army of a million men and 300 chariots, and came as far as Mareshah. And Asa went out to meet him, and they drew up their lines of battle in the Valley of Zephathah at Mareshah. And Asa cried to the LORD his God, “O LORD, there is none like you to help, between the mighty and the weak. Help us, O LORD our God, for we rely on you, and in your name we have come against this multitude. O LORD, you are our God; let not man prevail against you.” So the LORD defeated the Ethiopians before Asa and before Judah, and the Ethiopians fled. 2 Chron. 14:9-12
Devotional Material: Hope When You’re Feeling Defeated
Although he was a king, Asa was someone who very much resembles you and me. He believed God was faithful and trustworthy, except when he didn’t. There were times, instead, that left him feeling defeated. That sizes most of us up right there.
Today we zero in on a point in history when the king is in a menacing predicament. It’s not unexpected, just the worst-case scenario as a king. The kingdom is about to be crushed by a bad guy and his one million troops.
Not only does this situation demonstrate God’s faithfulness to hear and respond, but it shows us what hope that is awakening in a person’s life can look like.
He went out.
The king could have remained in the fortress to defend himself at home. But scholars believe he went out in order to strategically place himself on more equal footing. The Valley of Zephathah at Mareshah was not large enough for one million troops plus chariots to advance together. This was military genius, given the odds.
Notice what was happening here. Asa was using every means within his power possible. He did not rely on his feelings. No matter what God was going to choose to do in his situation, the king had utilized every resource and ounce of wisdom he possessed to participate in the event. Asa did not shrink back in fear or discouragement. This man did not stay out of the battle because it was hopeless from the get-go. He went out.
He cried out.
Once Asa had been faithful and bold in his going forward, he did not hesitate to make it know where the victory would lie if it came. God and God alone would bring it, regardless of his feelings or how large his army was or how strong they proved to be in battle. It was the Lord’s name that was at stake, not his own glory as the king.
He took courage.
After the victory, God was not finished dealing with the king. This was a hope-extending experience that stretched beyond the results of one single event.
Immediately following the victory, God sent an obscure encourager who was moved by the Holy Spirit to speak into the life of this man. His message was hope-filled, spurring him on to seek the Lord. It came with a warning for not seeking Him, which we cannot skip over. To demonstrate his point, this Nobody gave King Asa a rundown of all the ways the kings before him have blown it by not seeking and relying on God, and how not to be like them.
But you, take courage! Do not let your hands be weak, for your work shall be rewarded.” 2 Chron. 15:7
This encounter set such a fire under the king that he did exactly that.
Sometimes we have done all we can. We’ve stepped out in faith, using all our resources and there is nothing left to offer. We’ve prayed. Yes, God has shown Himself to be faithful. You, too, have experienced the Gospel to be true and trustworthy.
But there is still more to be experienced. Hope continues to be awakened in each one of us. I don’t know what you are embarking upon, but the encouragement today is simple: Take courage. Don’t slack off! Do not hold onto that defeated feeling! Your labor is not in vain and is meaningful to the only One that really matters.
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