Shocking announcements are often responded to with the query, “Are you sure?” Having heard God’s plan to use the Babylonians (Chaldeans) to accomplish His purposes, Habakkuk has more questions. The Bible includes “tough questions” asked by believers and unbelievers alike. In this case, God’s spokesman, who ‘speaks for God’ and ‘represents’ God before the people, has been doing some hard thinking. “LORD,” he ponders, “are you sure? Is this really the way you are about to demonstrate justice in a situation which wreaks of injustice?”
Let’s look at part of Habakkuk’s Second Complaint together…..
Question – “O LORD, are you not from everlasting?”
Answer: Of course the LORD is the everlasting Covenant-making and Covenant-keeping God. He is not a local tribal deity but a Sovereign Monarch who reigns over all the earth.
Affirmation – “My God, my Holy One, we will not die.”
What leads Habakkuk to this affirmation? Just yesterday, I had a challenging conversation with another Christ-follower who has struggled with what God has permitted in her life to date. Ours is not a “formulaic” faith e.g. IF we do _____________ then GOD will do ______________. We are not capable of fully “connecting the dots” in the Providence Puzzle that is our lives. God’s “care” and “love” and “protection” does NOT mean difficult painful things won’t happen. We must all exercise ‘caution’ in expressing our uninformed comments about the painful events in others lives. Honestly, WE DON’T know all that GOD is doing. Habakkuk may affirm the above statement, but people did die during the invasion of the Babylonians. Despite the “escape-hatch” view of prophecy some espouse, believers have been executed, tortured and experienced great hardships while skillful writers opine about “their opinion” that GOD will prevent all suffering!
Affirmation – “O LORD, you have appointed them to execute judgment.”
Comment – True. The Babylonians are carrying out God’s will. As a preacher I heard once said, “Even the devil is GOD’s devil.” God is sovereign even when it hurts. God does not “owe” us an explanation and those who claim to have an “inside track” may well be totally misinformed. Only eternity will reveal ALL the details, many of which are now kept from our eyes.
So how do we face challenges?
Face them prayerfully. Pray for the grace to remain true during the testing.
Face them Scripturally. “Consider it pure joy, brothers, whenever you face trials….” Why? Because the trials are easy? No. A thousand times no, but because you do know (with James) that the testing of your faith is developing perseverance.
Face them collectively and honestly. Here is where we are invited to include others to enter into our lives. “Please pray for us that our faith will not fail.” “Please hold us up before GOD. We don’t know how we are going to cope with the events of this week, this month, this year.” Thank God we have HIS help and others may “help us by their prayers” (2 Corinthians 1:11).
I’m planning to launch a Biblical, practical, careful study of suffering saints from Scripture and the pages of Church History. I’m trusting I will catch a fresh glimpse of God’s grace in the real lives of real people in times of real pain.
John Newton got it right when he penned, “Through MANY dangers, toils and snares I have already come. ‘Tis GRACE hath brought me safe thus far and GRACE will lead me home.”