Where Do You Turn In Times of Trouble?
“Even during this time of trouble, King Ahaz continued to reject the Lord.” – 2 Chronicles 28:22 NLT
When trouble comes, where do you turn? When difficulty shows up in your life, where do you look for answers? For Ahaz, the king of Judah, he looked anywhere and to anyone other than God. Even though most of his problems were directly related to his own rebellion against God, he just kept turning his attention elsewhere for a solution. It never seemed to cross his mind that the best solution might come in the form of repentance. He had led his people into all kinds of idolatry, including the worship of Baal, and had even practiced child sacrifice, offering up some of his own children on pagan altars in an attempt to appease the gods. As as result of his various sins, God brought punishment on Ahaz and the nation of Judah in the form of attacks by other nations. His own people were sent into exile. The northern kingdom attacked and took plunder and many of the people of Judah as slaves. But instead of turning to the Lord for help and asking for forgiveness, Ahaz turned to the king of Assyria. He makes a pact with King Tiglath-pileser of Assyria to help him fight against Edom. But instead of providing aid, King Tiglath-pileser attacks Judah. He looted the temple, the royal palace and the homes of the wealthiest people. We are told that “The Lord was humbling Judah because of King Ahaz of Judah, for he had encouraged his people to sin and had been utterly unfaithful to the Lord” (2 Chronicles 28:19 NLT).
So what did Ahaz do? He offered up sacrifices to the gods of Assyria. His logic was the if their gods had given the Assyrians victory over Judah, then they must be more powerful than the God of Judah. He even shut the doors of the Temple so no one could worship there. In other words, he made it impossible for the people of Judah to worship Yahweh at all. Instead, he set up pagan altars and shrines all over Jerusalem – the city of God. The result? He incurred the wrath of God. Rather than repent, he rebelled even further, causing God to punish he and the people to an even greater degree. How stubborn can you get? How stupid can one person be? But before I judge, I had better take a long look at my own life and examine how many times I have turned to something or someone else instead of the Lord when I have encountered trouble in my life. It is so easy to see Ahaz’s sin, but overlook our own. Yet each of us is guilty of refusing God’s discipline in our lives by trying to escape it by looking for solutions that don’t include repentance and confession. We turn to the gods of this world for deliverance – money, banking, investments, hard work, self-help books, and an assorted escape mechanisms such as pleasure, entertainment, sex, drugs and alcohol. We sacrifice our kids on the altars of sports, the arts, and education. We sacrifice our marriages on the altars of success and achievement. Yet as we see throughout the stories of the kings of Judah and Israel, God is calling us to turn back to Him. He pleads with us to repent and return. He alone can provide solutions to our problems and forgiveness for our sins. He wants us to admit that we have sinned. He wants us to confess that we have rejected Him. He wants us to return to Him and accept His offer of forgiveness and love. So where will you turn today? Who will you look to when things go poorly? Will you look up? Will you turn to God? Difficulties and trials can either turn us to God or away from Him. They can wreak havoc on our faith or cause it to grow. They can drive us to the Lord or away from Him. They can and should reveal our weakness and our need for God. Use today’s troubles to turn you back to God. He is ready, willing and able to help.
Father, forgive me for the many times I have turned to someone or something else instead of You. Instead of seeing trials as a tool in Your hands to turn me back to You, I tend to try and find a way out them. I turn to other things to solve my problems. I fail to see You in them and refuse to let them turn me back to You. Open my eyes so that the difficulties of life might be opportunities to see You more clearly. Amen
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men