When we are suffering and pray to God for help, one of the answers he may give (and one that we don’t often think of!) is, “YES, BUT FIGHT!” We see this all over the Old Testament:
* The Israelites were being oppressed, and Deborah the judge and prophet said to Barak, “Behold, the Lord, the God of Israel, has commanded, ‘Go and march to Mount Tabor, and take with you ten thousand men from the sons of Naphtali and from the sons of Zebulun. I will draw out to you Sisera, the commander of Jabin’s army, with his chariots and his many troops to the river Kishon, and I will give him into your hand.’”
* Another oppression, and God called Gideon and said, “Go in this your strength and deliver Israel from the hand of Midian. Have I not sent you?”
* When the Canaanites made war on Judah, Jehoshaphat cried out to God and God replied, “Do not fear or be dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours but God’s. Tomorrow go down against them. Behold, they will come up by the ascent of Ziz, and you will find them at the end of the valley in front of the wilderness of Jeruel. You need not fight in this battle; station yourselves, stand and see the salvation of the Lord on your behalf, O Judah and Jerusalem.”
The list goes on and on. And we see that God comes through when his people get up off their quaking knees, strengthen their spine, gird on their armor, and enter the battle. Barak’s army routed Sisera’s army. Gideon’s 300 defeated the Midianites. Jehoshaphat’s men didn’t even have to fight – God did the work for him by causing the enemy armies to kill off one another.
God came through – but not before his people proved themselves willing to do their part in the battle.
The lesson for us is the same. We might be hurting because we are faced with an enemy who appears much bigger and much more powerful than us. Crushing debt. An impossible job situation. Family dysfunction that is beyond imagination. And in our pain, we cry out to God. And God says, “Yes, but get up and get into the battle! Do your part!”
Why might this be God’s answer? Because we might have given up too soon. In fact, we might not have tried at all. Haven’t you ever known people with horrible debt, but they refuse to learn how to budget? Or known someone with anxiety or depression who won’t see a counselor? A family that has major misunderstandings, but no one is willing to bring the garbage into the open to be discussed and addressed?
We want God to do it all. Wave his hand and fix everything for us without us lifting a finger. But we can’t expect God to do our fighting for us if he wants us to get into battle! When we fight, we grow stronger. Bolder. More confident. We demonstrate our faith in God. Our trust in his guidance. We see that we can partner with God in this life. He wants us to give our 100%, and he will then gladly give us his 100%. Our best might be a drop of water compared to the ocean of his resources, but he wants us to give it.
And if we don’t get up and fight, then what? Often, God simply will not give us his “Yes.” His “Yes” is conditional – we have to do something for it. We might think we are being holy and faithful by praying and praying and praying, but if that means we are sitting on our hands when God wants us to get out our sword, we are not being either holy or faithful – no matter how many prayers we pray.
That’s why it’s so important to hear what God is saying and how he is responding to our hurts. He may want to give healing or relief, but we may have a role to play in making that happen. If we keep waiting when he is asking us to take action, we will miss out on the provision he is ready to give.