Have you ever been disappointed?
If so, I want to share something with you from 2 Chronicles 32.
I’m not gonna quote the whole thing because you’d probably exit out of this post and I honestly don’t want you to do that because I feel like this is important. I’m gonna give you the “spark notes” and you can go read the full story whenever you get the chance.
So, basically there was a man named Sennacherib who was the king of Assyria at the time. Following in his dad’s footsteps, he had been on a conquest destroying nations. He decided that Judah was next on his invasion list.
Upon hearing the news, Hezekiah (king of Judah) did what any other king would do. He made sure that there were physical barriers to keep the opposing army out, to include stopping up the brook outside of the city, repairing the broken sections of the wall, raising up towers, manufacturing tons of weapons and shields, and building a second wall. After that. he called the people together and encouraged them:
“Be strong and courageous! Don’t be afraid or discouraged because of the king of Assyria or his mighty army, for there is a power far greater on our side! He may have a great army, but they are merely men. We have the Lord our God to help us and to fight our battles for us!” Hezekiah’s words greatly encouraged the people.”
The KJV says, “and the people rested themselves upon the words of Hezekiah.."
There's just something about receiving an assuring message from God. People can tell you 100x but when you hear it from God himself, it "hits differently." They didn't just hear what Hezekiah said and take it for a grain of salt. No, they rested on his words. Like with a trust fall, the people of Jerusalem fell back with complete assurance on the words of Hezekiah. Whether through scripture, sermons, prayer, fasting, prophecy, encouragement from a friend, etc. we all have been reassured by God in some way. As you may be familiar with, on the heels of this assurance from God flood overwhelming feelings of peace, joy, love, gratitude, and just plain "everything is going to be alright." That is, until we are confronted by words similar to the words of Sennacherib which followed Hezekiah's encouragement. While he was still wreaking havoc in a town called Lachish, he sent his servants to Jerusalem with a message for Hezekiah and all the people:
“This is what King Sennacherib of Assyria says: What are you trusting in that makes you think you can survive my siege of Jerusalem? Hezekiah has said, ‘The Lord our God will rescue us from the king of Assyria.’ Surely Hezekiah is misleading you, sentencing you to death by famine and thirst! Surely you must realize what I and the other kings of Assyria before me have done to all the people of the earth! Were any of the gods of those nations able to rescue their people from my power? Which of their gods was able to rescue its people from the destructive power of my predecessors?
What makes you think your God can rescue you from me?
Don’t let Hezekiah deceive you! Don’t let him fool you like this! I say it again—no god of any nation or kingdom has ever yet been able to rescue his people from me or my ancestors. How much less will your God rescue you from my power! And Sennacherib’s officers further mocked the Lord God and his servant Hezekiah, heaping insult upon insult. The king also sent letters scorning the Lord, the God of Israel. He wrote,
'Just as the gods of all the other nations failed to rescue their people from my power, so the God of Hezekiah will also fail.'”
Whew. Bold claims, Sennacherib.
I find it so interesting that Sennacherib was not concerned with the physical barriers Hezekiah and the people were setting up as much as he was the spiritual barriers. Nowhere in his message did he talk about the efforts they had made to stop the water flow outside the city nor how they repaired all the broken sections of the wall, raised up towers, and built second wall. He didn't even comment on their weapons and shields. Like Sennacherib, the enemy of your soul could care less about the physical barriers you try to place in his way. While spiritual disciplines and boundaries are great and SO necessary, you can take all the precautions you want but if you still don't trust God, your physical efforts will be in vain. This lifelong battle we're in is a spiritual one. Yes, natural people are used in the process, but ultimately, it is Satan behind the curtain pulling the strings.
Long story short, after receiving the message from Sennacherib, Hezekiah and the prophet Isaiah prayed. "And the Lord sent an angel who destroyed the Assyrian army with all its commanders and officers. So Sennacherib was forced to return home in disgrace to his own land. And when he entered the temple of his god, some of his own sons killed him there with a sword. That is how the Lord rescued Hezekiah and the people of Jerusalem from King Sennacherib of Assyria and from all the others who threatened them. So there was peace throughout the land."
Here are a few extra takeaways + a personal story that I hope encourage you:
The Lord sent an angel to destroy the opposing army BEFORE they even went to Jerusalem.
Fear- and anxiety-inducing messages can have you all out of sorts over something that isn't even going to reach you. Relax.
These negative messages don't always come from Satan.
They sometimes come from other people who either don't have our best interest at heart or who may be close to us but just unable to understand what's going on (ask Job's friends). Sometimes they come from our own minds, especially if we have experienced perpetual disappointment from others or from God.
Prayer ain't easy.
After my aunt passed away from breast cancer in 2015, it seemed like everyone's loved ones were being diagnosed with it. People were texting me or coming up to me at church asking me to agree with them in prayer for their loved one's healing. If I can be honest with you, as much as I wanted to, I couldn't. 99% of the time I would relay the prayer request to my dad (I'm a PK - "Pastor/Preacher's kid) confident that he would be "faith-y" enough to get a prayer through. The recurring thought in my mind when these people would approach me was, I just don't want them to get their hopes up only to be disappointed like I was. What I really wanted to say was, God, they shouldn't even have to "get their hopes up" because you should just heal. PERIOD. While that was a genuine feeling of mine and although I did not rush or invalidate my experience, I knew that my approach would have to change eventually.
When you have experienced hurt and disappointment, especially from God, it is HARD.
When you're reading the Bible which says that God is not like man, but from your experience it has been seeming like he is no different than man, your first instinct isn't to pray like Hezekiah and Isaiah did. Maybe you're in a faith crisis due to perpetual disappointment. Maybe you've been questioning everything you've ever believed. Trust me, I've been there. I want to encourage you, even if you can't bring yourself to pray just yet, even if you can't bring yourself to try church again, just believe anyway. The words aren't deceiving. God isn't deceiving. The perpetual disappointment you have experienced firsthand or seen others experience is probably what is deceiving you. Don't try to hurry up and fix it so you can appear spiritual. Instead, deal with the disappointment and what follows will follow.
Don't be deceived by disappointment. I know it's easier said than done, but believe anyway.
During Season 1 of my podcast, we talked about a variety questions and topics of taboo that are typically avoided by or not discussed in the Christian communities. These topics have the potential to cause anyone to experience a faith crisis or doubt God. If you are interested, My Sentiments Exactly Podcast is available on all major streaming platforms, my website, and the "By Grace Not Perfection" mobile app.