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Worshiping in the Dark

by LAURIE M. WORSHIPING GOD Fear Overwhelmed Raising kids cross-culturally
Worshiping in the Dark
After this, the Moabites and Ammonites with some of the Meunites came to wage war against Jehoshaphat. Some people came and told Jehoshaphat, “A vast army is coming against you from Edom, from the other side of the Dead Sea. It is already in Hazezon Tamar” (that is, En Gedi). Alarmed, Jehoshaphat resolved to inquire of the Lord, and he proclaimed a fast for all Judah. The people of Judah came together to seek help from the Lord; indeed, they came from every town in Judah to seek him. Then Jehoshaphat stood up in the assembly of Judah and Jerusalem at the temple of the Lord in the front of the new courtyard and said: “Lord, the God of our ancestors, are you not the God who is in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. Power and might are in your hand, and no one can withstand you. Our God, did you not drive out the inhabitants of this land before your people Israel and give it forever to the descendants of Abraham your friend? They have lived in it and have built in it a sanctuary for your Name, saying, ‘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.” All the men of Judah, with their wives and children and little ones, stood there before the Lord. Then the Spirit of the Lord came on Jahaziel son of Zechariah, the son of Benaiah, the son of Jeiel, the son of Mattaniah, a Levite and descendant of Asaph, as he stood in the assembly. 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.’” Jehoshaphat bowed down with his face to the ground, and all the people of Judah and Jerusalem fell down in worship before the Lord. Then some Levites from the Kohathites and Korahites stood up and praised the Lord, the God of Israel, with a very loud voice. Early in the morning they left for the Desert of Tekoa. As they set out, Jehoshaphat stood and said, “Listen to me, Judah and people of Jerusalem! Have faith in the Lord your God and you will be upheld; have faith in his prophets and you will be successful.” After consulting the people, Jehoshaphat 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.” As they began to sing and praise, the Lord set ambushes against the men of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir who were invading Judah, and they were defeated. The Ammonites and Moabites rose up against the men from Mount Seir to destroy and annihilate them. After they finished slaughtering the men from Seir, they helped to destroy one another. When the men of Judah came to the place that overlooks the desert and looked toward the vast army, they saw only dead bodies lying on the ground; no one had escaped. So Jehoshaphat and his men went to carry off their plunder, and they found among them a great amount of equipment and clothing and also articles of value—more than they could take away. There was so much plunder that it took three days to collect it. On the fourth day they assembled in the Valley of Berakah, where they praised the Lord. This is why it is called the Valley of Berakah to this day. Then, led by Jehoshaphat, all the men of Judah and Jerusalem returned joyfully to Jerusalem, for the Lord had given them cause to rejoice over their enemies. They entered Jerusalem and went to the temple of the Lord with harps and lyres and trumpets. The fear of God came on all the surrounding kingdoms when they heard how the Lord had fought against the enemies of Israel. And the kingdom of Jehoshaphat was at peace, for his God had given him rest on every side.
2 Chronicles 20:1-30

The sounds of the drummer echoed down the pre-dawn streets, awakening everyone within earshot for the last meal before the fasting of the day began. As my own heart and body trembled with the panic of having been woken up by the loud drumming, I stayed in bed, praying, “Lord, please let them sleep through tonight, please let the kids not hear it.” But within a few seconds, the kids were screeching in terror. The night was dark, and the loud insistent drumming gave us no rest. 

Rushing down the hallway with my heart still racing from being woken up, I attempted to soothe the kids with my calming tone, “It’s okay. Mommy’s here. It’s just the drummers.” However, my words, tone, and presence did nothing to ease their cries as the flashy drummer stationed himself what seemed like right outside our building. 

With no space for logical thought, and desperation for all the noise to stop, I started singing. As I began to sing to the Lord, my heartbeat began to slow down. As the kids heard me, their cries began to soften. While the noise from the drummer reverberated through our home, the kids and I quietly sang songs of love to the Lord, prayed for our city and our neighborhood, and blessed the drummer in the name of Jesus. While our sleep deprivation impacted our moods for the rest of the day, I was encouraged to know we were not giving way to fear and we were developing a response to scary events. 

Somewhere along the way, I picked up the habit of singing to the Lord when my heart has nothing else to offer. When I am terrified, when I am lonely, when I am very discouraged, or when I am overwhelmed, worshiping the Lord has helped quiet my heart, has filled me with courage, and has reminded me of what is true. Furthermore, it has emboldened me to pray that the light of the Lord would shine in the darkness (Isaiah 9:2). 

I have been reading of God’s deliverance of King Jehoshaphat and the people of Judah from the Moabites and the Ammonites. As the people of Judah and the King were terrified of what they saw to be certain destruction, God came to their aid. He promised to deliver them and declared that they would not have to fight. King Jehoshaphat set apart singers to go ahead of the soldiers into battle. I have no idea how the people felt as they walked into battle behind the singers appointed by King Jehoshaphat. At what point did they know for certain that God had delivered them? 

Closing Prayer
Lord, make us people who love you deeply and who cry out to you day and night. Fill our hearts and our mouths with praises even when our circumstances suggest that we do something else. Lord, you are the only God who is faithful, holy, strong, and good. You are the God who has promised to never leave us or forsake us. Father would you give us audacious courage to sing your praises in the dark–even in the darkest corners of the world–so the people walking in darkness might know you and walk with you in the light. Comfort us, Holy Spirit. Be pleased by the praises of your people. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Book: Singing Through the Night by Anneke Companjen Singing Through the Night by Anneke Companjen is a wonderful book about women in the persecuted church enduring trials and bringing glory to God even in the midst of their suffering.
Question for Reflection

Many of us have frequent terrifying situations in the life to which we have been called. When you are terrified, how do you stand firm in the Lord?

Laurie M.
April 01, 2021

Over the years, I have had a few instances where fears could have paralyzed me. Eventually, I realized that I needed something better in my “arsenal” against being immobilized by fear. I memorized a few verses addressing fear (Joshua 1:9, Nahum 1:7, and Psalm 27) and a few simple kids worship songs. Whenever fear struck, I would declare one of these verses out loud and begin singing. Just like in the middle of the night when my brain could barely function, the first thing that came to my lips was worship.

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