2 Chronicles 16
I’m sure you’ve heard this famous saying: God helps those who help themselves. A popular idea, but is it true? King Asa’s experience in 2 Chronicles 16 would seem to contradict the idea. For what was Asa doing, but helping himself? "In the thirty-sixth year of Asa’s reign Baasha king of Israel went up against Judah and fortified Ramah to prevent anyone from leaving or entering the territory of Asa king of Judah. Asa then took the silver and gold out of the treasuries of the Lord’s temple and of his own palace and sent it to Ben-Hadad king of Aram, who was ruling in Damascus. 'Let there be a treaty between me and you,' he said, 'as there was between my father and your father. See, I am sending you silver and gold. Now break your treaty with Baasha king of Israel so he will withdraw from me.'" (vs 1-3)
In response to this robbery from the temple, the Lord sent the prophet Hanani to relay His disappointment to the king. Instead of relying on God (as he had when he was in battle with the Cushites and Libyans), Asa had decided to try to solve the problem with King Baasha on his own, and he quickly found out that those who help themselves don’t always get God’s help. In fact, helping ourselves by trying to control situational outcomes sometimes places us beyond God’s help.
The need to control and solve our own problems is an epidemic, a part of our sinful condition. Surrender doesn’t come naturally to us, but as Hanani reminded Asa, "Were not the Cushites and Libyans a mighty army with great numbers of chariots and horsemen? Yet when you relied on the Lord, he delivered them into your hand." (vs 8) In other words, God doesn’t help those who help themselves; He helps those who seek Him.
The consequences of not seeking God are often disastrous. In this case, Asa’s self-help destroyed the peace he and his people had been enjoying: "For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him. You have done a foolish thing, and from now on you will be at war." (vs 9)
A few days ago, we saw that when we seek God, He gives us peace and rest on all sides. And here we see that when we don’t seek Him, we’re left in the hands of those we’ve relied on instead—and when we put our hope in anyone other than God, it leads to turmoil and unrest.
So, the next time you’re tempted to help yourself, don’t. Instead of trying to take charge of that problem you’d like to solve, take it to God. Seek His advice. Ask for His help. I promise you, He’s got solutions for your problems that you can’t even imagine. And when you take your problems to Him, you’ll find out very quickly that He helps those who seek Him.