The Old Testament book of 2 Chronicles contains a three-chapter story about King Asa. From his days as a young king, to the end of his reign decades later, we get a glimpse into a life well-lived. Kind of.
The King Asa we see in chapters 14 and 15 is very different from the King Asa of chapter 16. It’s almost as if the story is about two entirely different people. But it isn’t. It’s a story about how we respond to problems. This young king-leader learned that problems could be blessings, but then he had an epic failure as he faced a big problem late in his reign. I bet you haven’t thought of problems as blessings! But perhaps God will show you a new approach to viewing the difficulties that are bound to come your way. Some of us are facing big issues this week. Some of us will face problems next month. But no matter when they come, they will come. So let’s learn some things from King Asa. Problems can be big blessings for 3 reasons:
- Problems can intensify your prayer life. In 2 Chronicles 14:1-11, young King Asa is confronted with certain disaster. Egypt sent a million-man army to battle the Hebrews. Scripture records that the Egyptian army was much better equipped, and it severely outnumbered Israel’s soldiers. It was a gigantic mis-match. What was King Asa’s plan upon learning about this terrible imbalance? He prayed! He called on the name of the Lord his God. He acknowledged his limited strength, and called on God’s vast power to defeat his enemy. King Asa learned early in his reign that the first thing a leader must do is to commit his problems to the Lord. Have you learned that lesson yet? Or are you still battling your problems in your own strength? Problems are a potential source of blessing because they can re-ignite your prayer life as you call on the One who can truly act on your behalf. When you face problems, is prayer your first thought or an afterthought?
- Problems give the Lord an opportunity to show Himself strong. It’s interesting to note that problems often precede a time of victory. In the story of King Asa, the Lord answered his prayer and routed the Egyptian army (2 Chronicles 14:12-15). Israel experienced victory when all looked lost. But what a difference a day makes! When the Lord fights your battles, a change of circumstance can be only a few hours away. Or sooner. Problems give the Lord an open door to step in on your behalf and do things that can only be explained as coming from His hand to yours.
- Problems can keep you from getting “spiritual amnesia.” As 2 Chronicles 15 comes to a close, we learn the nation had experienced spiritual revival under King Asa’s leadership. The people recognized God’s presence and activity on behalf of Asa. They flocked to him. Things were good. Maybe too good. As chapter 15 ends, we learn that “There was no more war until the thirty-fifth year of Asa’s reign.” No more problems. No more worries. And then chapter 16 opens. Time has passed, and Asa has forgotten about the events from chapters 14 and 15. Unbelievable! Times of peace are wonderful. Being on calm seas is a great blessing, isn’t it? But calm seas come at a price, and the price may be that we believe we are responsible for our success. King Asa forgot about God, and acted with great cruelty towards God’s spokesperson; he even abused some of the people. Ultimately, Asa died from a foot disease, refusing to turn to the Lord for help, but only to the physicians who attended to him.
If you are in the middle of problems, good for you! If you are on calm seas and experiencing a time of peace, then beware! Problems may be bigger blessings than you realize.