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8. When nothing goes right …

Have you experienced times in your life where you can’t feel God’s presence?

When the tragedy happens in your life, while we do our best to cling to our faith, it’s easy to question God. Where is He when all your labour is in vain? Where is God when all around you seems to be falling apart?

These are age-old questions humans have struggled with for centuries, and questions we can easily ask today. It seems as if our world is on the brink of disaster, so we are left searching for God through all of it. God, where are you when it all goes wrong?

Habakkuk provides us one of the most remarkable sections in all of Scripture, as it contains an extended dialogue between Habakkuk and God. He initiated this conversation based on his distress about how he perceived God’s ‘inactivity’ in the world. He wanted to see God do more, to act particularly in economic and social justice.

Habakkuk pictures a land that is nothing like the prosperous breadbasket which Judah and Israel were under King Solomon. Instead, they became a basket case, in bondage to ruthless enemies, marked by frustration, failure and famine.

Habakkuk wrestled with the same questions we face today. Although Habakkuk’s message is deeply rooted in Judah 600AD, it has timeless value for God’s people in every generation. Like Habakkuk, we also live in a world where things have gone horribly wrong.

In a very honest way, he expressed two complaints about God not hearing his cry for help. He complained, “O LORD, how long shall I cry for help, and you will not hear?” (1:1) Then he protested, “Why do you remain silent when the wicked swallows up the man more righteous than he? (1:13)

He lamented at unjust economics, corrupt leadership, slave labour, irresponsible leaders, and widespread idolatry. He saw economic life grinding to a halt as a result of outside forces from Babylon, which God was allowing to bring people to slavery. Babylon is a symbol of a wicked economy which rings throughout the whole Bible.

Then Habakkuk says, “I will take my stand at my watch post and station myself on the tower and look out to see what he will say to me, and what I will answer concerning my complaint.” (2:1) In the midst of impending disaster, he actively looked to God for answers.

The Lord’s answer? Don’t worry about anyone else - don’t worry about what people are doing to you - don’t worry

⁃ When you lose your job and have no income

⁃ When your customers are not buying any more

⁃ When there is no justice

⁃ When you are subjected to ill treatment

⁃ When your creditors pressure you …

The Lord is saying through Habakkuk, “I will take care of the proud oppressors, those who get rich through dishonesty, manipulation, and extortion. “The righteous shall live by faith.” (2:4)

Habakkuk then prayed and recognised the awesome power of God, and saw God moving through eyes of faith. “I have heard all about you, LORD.I am filled with awe by your amazing works. In this time of our deep need, help us again as you did in years gone by. And in your anger, remember your mercy.” (3:2)

Habakkuk lived in a day of uncertainty, much like we do. For all the questions that were raised in his lifetime about the future, his response remained simple, "yet I will rejoice in the Lord". This was the prophet's response to uncertainty. Can we also respond as Habakkuk did? Can we trust the hand of God in the face of uncertain times , even when we don't know His plans?

Habakkuk made one of the most wonderful statements of faith that I can find in the Bible. (3:17-19) In the midst of abject failure, he declares…

Though the fig tree should not blossom,

nor fruit be on the vines,

the produce of the olive fail

and the fields yield no food,

the flock be cut off from the fold

and there be no herd in the stalls,

yet I will rejoice in the LORD;

I will take joy in the God of my salvation.

GOD, the Lord, is my strength;

he makes my feet like the deer's;

he makes me tread on my high places."

Despite all the manifold problems, Habakkuk ends his oracle on a note of confidence and joy. We cannot base our joy on the circumstances that surround our lives. Circumstances should not dictate whether we are joyful.Habakkuk’s confident declaration and prayer of encouragement form a beautiful demonstration of his faith in God. He knew this world was not His home. He trusted the steadfast love and faithfulness of his Saviour even when he didn't understand God's plan.

Failing forward

Failing forward means to live by faith.

  • It means trusting in Gods promises. “Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5)

  • It means waiting patiently for Him to act. |e still before the LORD and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices! (Psalm 37:7)

  • It means expectantly praying for God’s activity, for Him to intervene in your circumstances. “But Jesus answered them, “My Father is working until now, and I am working.” (John 5:17)

  • It means being joyful while waiting, knowing He will act in His timing. “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.” (Philippians 4:4)

  • It means receiving strength to endure difficult periods. “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10)

  • It means giving thanks to God, no matter what circumstances we are in. “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)

Giving thanks and rejoicing in tough circumstances opens a door for the Lord’s activity in helping us cope with difficulties and provide a way out of our troubles. “The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me; to one who orders his way rightly I will show the salvation of God!” (Psalm 50:23)

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