Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Even Though

Habakkuk questioned God. “How long, O Lord, must I call for help? But you do not listen! ‘Violence!’ I cry, but you do not come to save.” (Habakkuk 1:2, NLT) God gave him an answer that was hard to accept. “I am raising up the Babylonians to be a new power on the world scene. They are a cruel and violent nation who will march across the world and conquer it.” (1:6) Habakkuk challenged God’s plan, “You are perfectly just in this. But will you, you who cannot allow sin in any form, stand idly by while they swallow us up? Should you be silent while the wicked destroy people who are more righteous than they?” ()

Habakkuk then climbed up into his watchtower to wait for God’s response (2:1). God said, “But these things that I plan won’t happen right away. Slowly, steadily, surely, the time approaches when the vision will be fulfilled. If it seems slow, wait patiently, for it will surely take place. It will not be delayed. Look at the proud! They trust in themselves, and their lives are crooked; but the righteous will live by their faith.” (2:3-4) He went on to reveal to Habakkuk the woes that would befall Babylon, concluding with, “But the Lord is in His holy temple. Let all the earth be silent before him.” ()

Habakkuk prayed, “I have heard all about you, Lord, and I am filled with awe by the amazing things you have done. In this time of our deep need, begin again to help us as you did in years gone by. Show us your power to save us. And in your anger, remember your mercy.” (3:2) Then Habakkuk recounted the story of the Lord’s miraculous rescue of His people from their oppressors in Egypt (3:8-15).

It was Habakkuk’s encounter with God I believe that brought his questioning heart to peacefully surrender. He humbly laid down his own ideas for how and when God’s justice would prevail. “I will wait quietly for the coming day when disaster will strike the people who invade us.” (3:16b)

Habakkuk chose to live by a joyful faith, even when the wicked Babylonians would eventually conquer their land. He affirmed that there will be no conditions on his rejoicing in the Lord. “Even though the fig trees have no blossoms, and there are no grapes on the vine; even though the olive crop fails, and the fields lie empty and barren; even though the flocks die in the fields, and the cattle barns are empty, yet I will rejoice in the Lord! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation. The Sovereign Lord is my strength! He will make me as sure-footed as a deer and bring me safely over the mountains.
(3:17-19)

Habakkuk’s response reminds me of the psalmist, who with a grieving heart and a bitter spirit, questioned why the wicked seemed to prosper, and his own life seemed so difficult. "When I tried to understand all this, it was oppressive to me till I entered the sanctuary of God; then I understood their final destiny." (Psalm 73:16)

I love the way that the psalmist's peace and acceptance of the life before his eyes came as a result of being in God's holy presence, where transformation took place and He was able to see what couldn't be seen with physical eyes: a life of eternity. He understood that God was always with him and would one day take him into glory (v. 24). And he received assurance that the God of justice would judge the wicked. (How He Answers)

And Habakkuk’s response reminds me of Martha’s after Lazarus’ death, when Jesus chose to delay his arrival, allowing the one he loved to die. This is how I would describe Martha’s statement of faith in the midst of her great disappointment toward Jesus: If only you were here, we wouldn’t be mourning the death of our brother right now. I don’t understand why you didn’t come to heal the one whom you love when he was sick. But even now, I know that God will give you whatever you ask. I don’t know what that looks like, but I know that you are his Son, and so I still have hope. My heart has not become hardened with bitterness toward you. I believe that you are the Christ. This understanding could only have come from you, so that even while I am mourning and don’t know why this has happened, you have not changed. You cannot change. I fully believe in you. And I accept whatever you have done and will do. (from John 11:21-27)

Martha was not stopped by the “If only.” She went on to confess her belief in the one who acted in a way she could not understand and to place all of her hope and trust in Him. (If Only, Even Now, I Believe)

"May all your expectations be frustrated,
May all your plans be thwarted,
May all your desires be withered into nothingness
So that you may experience the poverty and powerlessness of a child…
And sing and dance in the great compassionate heart of God.”
(Brennan Manning quoting the old priest Larry Hines)

In Better Than My Dreams, Paula Rinehart refers to a “chosen ache.” She says, “I’d not choose it, but I’m making choices to accept its presence as something God has allowed for His own good reasons, which must be good ones because He is good.”

She also refers to the Proverbs 31 woman who “smiles at the future.” (v.25) She says, “We smile because God always has more to this story. We live in hope because whatever tragedy strikes, it cannot usurp the blessing of God on our lives as we walk with Him.” She says this is “a habit of heart you cultivate every time your present reality disappoints—and you are comforted in the presence of the Lord.”

Because ultimately, she says, “the God who spoke the worlds into existence and keeps the stars in place is the God who knows you like no one will ever know you. He has always loved you. He will love you to the end. His purposes for you are so set in place that you can rest every minute of your journey in the cool shade of His merciful sovereignty over your life.”

Brennan Manning, in Ruthless Trust, writes “To be grateful for an unanswered prayer, to give thanks in a state of interior desolation, to trust in the love of God in the face of marvels, cruel circumstances, obscenities, and commonplaces of life is to whisper a doxology in darkness.”

God, even though I don’t understand what you’re doing in my life right now, I trust that your plans for me are good. Your ways are higher than my ways. You are God alone. I long to rest in the cool shade of Your merciful sovereignty over my life.

“Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.” (Psalm 61:2)

2 comments:

  1. Again, thank you, Jodie, for sharing your heart on this topic.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Kim! I really appreciate you.

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