Have you ever felt utterly surrounded? Surrounded by burden - whether it be physical, financial, or relational? Surrounded by the daily stressors of life? Or, surrounded by threats and lies coming from the enemy?
At times, life in a fallen world can produce moments, even seasons, where we can feel utterly surrounded by hardship. These moments can press in on our doubts, our shame, and our unsaid fears. At times, well-meaning people can make it worse. And we, ourselves, can also make it worse by choosing to wallow in it all. But, what else do we know to do in our flesh, other than wallow? To me, the most shocking times of feeling utterly surrounded by hardship can be when we are just leaving a season of blessing, one where the Lord has done great work in and through our lives. This season of hardship surrounding us can then feel confusing, aggravating, and downright exhausting.
King Hezekiah can relate.
The Chronicler describes his story in 2 Chronicles chapter 31. King Hezekiah of Judah had just come off of an intense season of purification and restoration in the land. He had cleansed the temple, reinstated Passover, gotten rid of all the pagan idols, and was overall aiming to do what was right in the sight of the Lord. So, he should have received blessing and protection from the Lord, right?! Well, similar to our own lives, trouble was brewing just one chapter later.
Hezekiah was aiming to do what was right in the sight of the Lord, and yet... the enemy still came!
The King of Assyria decided that he was going to invade and pick a fight with Hezekiah and the rest of Judah’s inhabitants. The Word says he “intended to break into [the fortified cities]” (32:1, HCSB). He maliciously and selfishly sought to bring Hezekiah and all Judah down. Can we stop right here and acknowledge the unfairness?! Hezekiah was aiming to do what was right in the sight of the Lord, and yet... the enemy still came! Can you relate? I feel like that has been a description of the past year for me, I have intended to do what was right, and yet...the enemy has still come. It’s been taxing, confusing, yet also fortifying to my faith. I have come to understand like Hezekiah did, that there are always two choices: 1) Sit down, pout, doubt God’s goodness, and just plain quit...or 2) To get up, fortify the walls, and arm yourself for the battle ahead!
This second choice was what Hezekiah wisely selected! Similar to Nehemiah, when all the circumstances seemed to be against him, he did not choose to shirk responsibility, but instead chose to strengthen his position by rebuilding the wall. And after he got his defenses in place, he took up the offense against the enemy as well by preparing an “abundance of weapons and shields” (32:5). He wasn’t caught off guard. He didn’t sit down and just take it. He didn’t look inward, and he didn’t doubt Yahweh. He looked his situation right in the face and was ready to fight!
He even says to his people: “Be strong and courageous! Don’t be afraid or discouraged before the king of Assyria or before the large army that is with him, for there are more with us than with him” (32:7, HCSB). At this point, I’m sure the people are thinking, “what, do you mean there are more with us than with him? Hezekiah, have you lost the ability to count?!” And Hezekiah would probably say, “No, friend, I have not. I just have perspective!”
My question is this: How is he able to be this bold? How is he so ready to fight?
The answer is found in what he tells the people in verse 8: “With him [the king of Assyria] there is only an arm of flesh, but with us is the Lord our God to help us and to fight our battles” (AMP). Did you hear that? An arm of flesh versus the Lord our God! He calls it out for what it is! Just flesh. As a word-lover, the thing that really caught my attention about this verse was the preposition “with.” This is the hinge of the contrast that Hezekiah is drawing out. With the Assyrian king is simply flesh, while with Judah there is the God of Yahweh who made the heavens and earth. The word “with” literally means to be ‘accompanied by.’ So, while the Assyrians were accompanied by a lot of fleshly, earth-limited bodies, Hezekiah knew he was being accompanied by Yahweh-Sabaoth (the Lord of armies), El-Elyon (the Most High God), Jehovah-nissi (the Lord our Banner). Hezekiah had read the histories and believed that this God would be with Him in the midst of the battle.
Hezekiah knew what Paul knew - that this was not a battle against flesh and blood (Eph. 6:12), but that there was a spiritual battle being fought! He knew, like Abraham and Jesus, that while the cards looked as if they were stacked against them there was a much bigger story being played out. And he also knew like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego that God would ultimately have the victory, even if they lost the physical battle. He knew that God would be WITH them either way.
In this moment, Hezekiah chose not to quit, but to allow his past dealings with Yahweh to inform his current circumstances.
The same is true in our worlds as well. There is always much more going on that what we can see with our finite minds and eyes. In this moment, Hezekiah chose not to quit, but to allow his past dealings with Yahweh to inform his current circumstances. He also disallows the father of lies to get a foothold over his heart and the hearts of his people. He rejects the lie that says that God is not good in this moment, or that He was not caring for them. Instead, Hezekiah chose to believe God’s character was good, that He was WITH them, and that He would help them fight their battle.
So what about you and I? Are we choosing to play the long game of faith and trust our good God is with us? Or, are we sitting down, doubting, and resigning ourselves to the sidelines? Personally, I want to be on the winning side of battle-fighting, and I want to know God better in the “with-ness” of life with Him! Yes, it’s messy and hard. It’s exhausting, at times. Sometimes, my flesh wants to give up because I feel utterly surrounded...yet, I know that God is with me. As a worship song has recently reminded me, I must choose to believe that although it may look like I’m surrounded I am surrounded by God’s good care for me - this is my declaration to the enemy! “Satan, you have no hold here because my God is WITH me!” I pray that you, too, would play the long game of faith by remembering that our good God is with you, ready to help you fight your battles!
Bekah Brewer wants to live in a world where travel is quicker & cheaper, people are wisely vulnerable, and where discipleship is not just a concept but a thriving heartbeat of the whole Church. When she’s not editing for DWITW or her business (Words Redeemed), you can find her playing soccer, pouring into friends & family, or planning out more times of fun, rest, and growth. Her favorite Scripture is Philippians 1:27a: Just one thing: Live your life in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. (HCSB)