We are in crazy times. The virus, work challenges, financial issues, family breakups and the list goes on. In America we have the elections and uncertainty of who will be president of America for the next four years. It seems that everyone is going though massive challenges and things are not looking to getting easier in the short term. While going through very difficult times over the past two years, God has taught me that He wants to grow me so I can have His joy even when things are tough. This joy can come even when God does not remove what is so tough and often feels impossible in our lives! What are some keys for experiencing His joy? In Habakkuk we read of how in spite of his circumstances, he could experience joy that is impossible .... except when our eyes are totally fixed on God!
Just recently, I went for a walk through Habakkuk. This is a prophetic book in the Old Testament is often overlooked, but is full of treasures that I believe are for now. Habakkuk means "Embraced" and could point to the way God embraced him even with his many questions and struggles. He lived in one of Judah's most critical periods where the legal system had collapsed and citizens and the poor were badly mistreated. On top of this, the world around him was at war with a threat of invasion from the north. Habakkuk starts with many doubts as he is overwhelmed with his circumstances, but in the end he is able to worship God for who He is. This is where I want to be!
The Bible Project has a great overview of Habakkuk. It gives a great outline of this very interesting book of the Bible.
So how can we go on the journey where we are able to move from doubt to worship? Here are some key points that we learn though Habakkuk.
1. Yes .... it may look bad BUT God has some things ahead that will surprise you!
In the first chapter we read Habakkuk's first encounter with God. He can only think about the violence and injustice he sees in the nation. He believes God removed himself and He is nowhere to be found. Evil men are in control and there is no hope. God responds to his first comments by saying:-
5 “Look at the nations and watch—
and be utterly amazed.
For I am going to do something in your days
that you would not believe,
even if you were told. Habakkuk 1:5 NIV
God has not left and He is going to do something in your situation and the world that will amaze you. Do not give up!
2. God Is Still Who He Always Has Been and ALWAYS Will Be!
Habakkuk, in his second question to God, mentions God's unchanging nature. It sounds like Habakkuk is really struggling with a problem known as cognitive dissonance. In the Merriam-Webster dictionary this is "psychological conflict resulting from simultaneously held incongruous beliefs and attitudes (as a fondness for smoking and a belief that it is harmful)". He know God is good, a powerful, pure, holy, righteous and the list goes on but he does not see God having an impact on his world. So why do things look out of control?
God replies by telling to write down the vision He is giving him. In his reply God said:-
3 For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay.
4 “See, the enemy is puffed up; his desires are not upright— but the righteous person will live by his faithfulness Habakkuk 2:3-4. NIV
What God has said will happen will occur. We have to be so careful to allow God to be God and His timing is always the best. What He has planned WILL happen but in His perfect time. We must learn to wait and trust God. There is an appointed time and God will achieve ALL He has set out to do. Remain righteous and live in faithfulness.
3. The heart of God for the earth.
God is doing a great thing in the world at this time. He is filling the earth with the knowledge of His glory. His people are the vessels God is using to release His glory. Everywhere we go, in very conversation and whatever we do God is calling us to release the knowledge of the glory of God... until the earth has been filled!
14 For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord
as the waters cover the sea. Habakkuk 2:14 NIV
4. Idols have no life and will not help us .... God is both alive and present
We live in a crazy world where people think that idols will bring them success.
18 “Of what value is an idol carved by a craftsman? Or an image that teaches lies? For the one who makes it trusts in his own creation; he makes idols that cannot speak. 19 Woe to him who says to wood, ‘Come to life!’ Or to lifeless stone, ‘Wake up!’ Can it give guidance? It is covered with gold and silver; there is no breath in it.”
20 The Lord is in his holy temple; let all the earth be silent before him. Habakkuk 2:18-20. NIV
Even if you feel God is silent, He is in His holy Temple (His People). God is present and is working. Honestly look at your life to ensure there is nothing that you look to for success other than God. As a teacher, I have spoken to many families about the idol of education. The world says that if a child has a "good" education they will be successful life. This is a lie as success comes from God! What idols are you believing will bring you success? I have heard someone say that idols ultimately destroy us! Destroy them before they destroy you!
5. God.... Repeat what you have done in the past!
In Chapter 3, we find that Habakkuk responds to what God says to him and is in awe of what God has done. His cry is for God to revive or to repeat His works ..... in our day! Our cry is for God to work mightily and to deal with the sin in the world, but in mercy.
2 Lord, I have heard of your fame;
I stand in awe of your deeds, Lord.
Repeat them in our day,
in our time make them known;
in wrath remember mercy. Habakkuk 3:2 NIV
Cry out today for God to work mightily and mercifully in the world and in your situation. He has done it in the past and is able to do it again. He actually will. Just have faith!
6. No Matter What Is Happening Around us .... Remain joyful as you focus on God
In the end of the chapter, we read that Habakkuk has joy in God no matter the circumstances. He has learnt to take his eyes of what is happening around him and to know that because God is good, Habakkuk can rejoice in the God of his salvation.
17 Though the fig tree does not bud
and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
and no cattle in the stalls,
18 yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
I will be joyful in God my Savior. Habakkuk 3:17-18 NIV
7. God is your strength.
Today, remember that God is the source of your strength. Even when everything around you may be out of control, God never changes. He is your source of strength!
19 The Sovereign Lord is my strength;
he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
he enables me to tread on the heights. Habakkuk 3:19 NIV
In the midst of the chaos of our lives and world, God is the only one that is constant. Take your eyes off everything else and put your eyes only on Him. Rejoice in Him, come to God for strength and for your success. He will come through for you even when all around you it looks impossible. The one constant in life is that God is good... no matter what the circumstances look like or feel. There are good things ahead that God wants to surprise you with. He is constant and never changes. The knowledge of God and His glory will fill the earth as we go out and proclaim who God is. God is calling us to take our eyes off anything we are going to that we think will bring success and come to God for success only. What God has done in the past is just a small taste of what He can do again...and will. Just trust His timing! Learn to focus on God and through this dance with joy because God has revealed Himself to you and He is a good God! Take your eyes off the circumstances. Through joyfully coming to God He will give you strength and all you need to be successful.
Joy to the world the Lord has come... Receive your King today. Live in the joy of knowing the amazing GOOD God who planned us, formed us in our mother's womb and planned "good works" for us to do with Him. By coming to God and receiving His grace, mercy and love through Jesus we receive the most important thing on God's heart...... to spend eternity with Him! ,
Keep your eyes fixed on Jesus and ........ live a life of joy! See you in eternity!