January 6, 2020
Valley of Blessing
BRENDA BRADFORD OTTINGER
"On the fourth day they gathered in the Valley of Blessing, which got its name that day because the people praised and thanked the LORD there. It is still called the Valley of Blessing today." 2 Chronicles 20:26 (NLT)
We looked like a normal family. On weekends.
Every Friday night, my husband's plane would land, and we'd cram all manner of family life into two insufficient days before Monday barged in with the next flight out. Week after week, month after eight long months.
Weekdays were a crash course in "single-mom" life for me as employment changes split our household across 800 miles.
As we searched for a job that would bring us back together full-time, my heart beat to the rhythm of a familiar refrain: Lord, "we do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you" (2 Chronicles 20:12b, NIV).
This prayer by King Jehoshaphat is one I return to often, for it speaks into the deep of a troubled-yet-trusting heart.
You see, the king prayed these words after hearing a large army was on its way to destroy Judah.
People throughout Judah came to Jerusalem seeking God's help, and as Jehoshaphat prayed with them, the Spirit of the Lord spoke through a gentleman in the crowd, advising them that God would fight for them.
Upon hearing this, the king and all the people worshipped and praised the Lord.
Friend, at this point, the enemy was still on its way to attack them! Judah didn't reserve their worship until the enemy was defeated, but praised God for a victory yet unseen.
The next morning, while en route to meet their rivals, Jehoshaphat appointed singers to walk ahead, praising and thanking God.
And, oh how the Lord honored their worship - the moment their praise began, He caused the enemies to turn on each other and start fighting themselves!
Since text messaging wasn't yet a thing, and Judah's army was still traveling to the battle, they weren't aware of this news - until they came upon the place where God had already been, and they were shocked to find their enemies lifeless on the ground.
Always faithful to His Word, the Lord went ahead, a little farther from their sight or ability, and declared victory over the valley.
For three days, they collected plunder from God's victory, and "On the fourth day, they gathered in the Valley of Blessing, which got its name that day because the people praised and thanked God there ..." (2 Chronicles 20:26a).
And guess what they did next? They marched back into Jerusalem the same way they left - singing and praising God.
Friend, have you noticed how praise and worship are the bookends of our victories?
As we worship God along life's winding path, He moves in ways we can't accomplish alone. And oh, the freedom of praising God for what we can't yet see as He claims victory over life's battles.
My husband and I didn't know how the Lord would guide, but we offered our imperfect sacrifices of praise through exhaustion, keeping our eyes on God as He moved ahead. In time, we witnessed His movement as He restored our household under one roof.
Our trust gave way to praise, and as the path before us cleared, we discovered His footprints embedded in the sacred soil of our very own Valley of Blessing.
Sweet friend, do you long to see God moving today in a battle that feels too big? May your heart rest in the reminder that our praise is not passive. When we center our worship on God rather than on the battle, His panoramic plan works in ways beyond our sight.
Dear Lord, teach me to keep my eyes on You. I praise You for every victory, seen and unseen, as day upon day I gather the plunder of Your goodness. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Psalm 28:7, "The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him." (NIV)
Happy 2020! We're getting ready for the start of a new year, and a new decade, with our New Year's Collection. Let 2020 be a year we resolve to keep God at the center. We've selected books and studies that will equip and encourage you for the year ahead. Click here to shop now!
REFLECT AND RESPOND:
What would it look like to praise God as you walk into the battles of life today? How might this bring freedom? Share your thoughts in the comments section!
© 2020 by Brenda Bradford Ottinger. All rights reserved.