Category: Habakkuk (Page 1 of 3)

Fuel for the Fire

“Has not the Lord Almighty determined that the people’s labor is only fuel for the fire,
that the nations exhaust themselves for nothing?
For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord.”
~ Habakkuk 2:13-14

All the stories that consume our thoughts: the dysfunction in D.C., the wars in Europe and the Middle East, immigration issues, and abortion policies. All the stories that stoke our anxieties: the economy, the violence, the division, the construction project on Garfield. Someday, all of that will fade into silence. Someday, all of it will be gone. The story that endures is the story of our Almighty God and his salvation acts for his world and his people. That’s the story that will continue forever into and through all eternity. That’s the story worth telling. And it’s the only story really worth living.



Habakkuk’s Complaint

We’re studying Habakkuk together on Sunday mornings here at GCR and we’ve started at the very beginning — a very good place to start. Except that the first chapter of Habakkuk is tough reading. It’s the prophet’s prayer to the Lord and it’s not very nice. It questions God. It complains to God. The prayer argues with God and even accuses God of wrongdoing. Habakkuk details the violence and injustice in the land. How can you just stand there, God, and not do anything? The prophet explains to God that because of all the wickedness and strife, the law is paralyzed and justice is perverted. Get off your throne, Lord, and do something!

The Lord answers Habakkuk by telling him things are about to go from bad to worse. The Lord is about to raise up the worst, most evil people on the planet to ride in and punish the Israelites. He paints an awful picture.

Habakkuk’s complaint continues. But listen to the faith in his lament in 1:12.

“O, Lord. are you not from everlasting? My God, my Holy One…” You are the eternal God, Habakkuk says. You are my God and I have no other.

“We will not die.” Despite all the evidence to the contrary, despite even what God himself is telling the prophet, Habakkuk is hanging on with a white-knuckle-death-grip to God’s promises that his people will never die.

“O, Rock.” I don’t understand any of this, Habakkuk prays. I don’t agree with what you’re doing. It seems unfair, it seems wrong. I can’t see it. I don’t get it. But, Lord, Rock, my trust is in you. My faith is in you.

God tells Habakkuk things are about to get really bad. But the prophet makes it clear he will go nowhere else for his answers. He will seek no one else to protect him or save him. This is a total and complete dependence on God and God alone to do what’s best. Total dependence. Complete faith. A faith that goes well beyond any evidence or proof for it. Facing exile, starvation, and slavery, Habakkuk continues to trust our God.

God’s reply to Habakkuk’s complaints affirms that the Lord is still very much in control. All of it, no matter how evil and wrong and unfair and chaotic it seems, all of it is being controlled by our God.

1:5 – “I am going to do something.” God says, there’s a plan.

1:6 – “I am raising up the Babylonians.” This is going somewhere. And I’m the one doing it.

1:5 – “…in your days.” There is a time frame. God says, it’s all on my schedule.

2:3 – “The revelation awaits an appointed time.” It’s happening exactly when I want it to happen.

Everything that is happening in our world, everything that is happening in your world right now, is subject to and bound up with the Kingdom of God. Things happen for a reason — God’s reason. And we don’t always have to understand what God is doing. We don’t always see it. And we don’t need to.

Ask the questions. Wrestle with the Lord. Accuse him. Argue with him. Bring to him all your fears and uncertainties and pains. But never doubt his supreme love for you and his divine justice. He is trustworthy. And he is faithful.



Our Faithful Lament

Our GCR Church family is grieving this week. Three funerals in one day will do that. Tomorrow we will give Ashleigh Reedy, James Kennedy, and Dane Higgins to our Lord at three services – two in Lubbock and one here in Midland. And we’re struggling with some of this. All three of these deaths are tragic and unforeseen, all surprising in varying degrees. And we’re having a hard time.

I believe that open and honest struggling and wrestling with God is a sign of faith. I believe that even questioning God and arguing with God reflects a strong inner conviction in his power and goodness.

Think about it. To demand that God ought to act justly is based solely on a firm belief that God is just. If we don’t believe God is just, we won’t go to him when we see injustice. We’ll go somewhere else. What we believe about God – if we really believe it – is what leads to this kind of honest wrestling.

We believe in God’s omnipotence. There is only one God. He does not share his power with any other god. He made the whole world and everything in it. He is the sovereign ruler over all creation. So, every single thing that happens, good and bad, fair and unfair, happens because God either causes it or allows it. And that leads directly to our really hard questions: Why? Why, God, do you allow these things to happen? Why, God, don’t you intervene?

We believe in God’s righteousness. God loves the world he created, he is concerned with what happens to his creatures, and he’s certainly not wicked in the ways he deals with the world. But we’re faced with the reality of terrible cruelty and awful suffering in our world. And if God is omnipotent and righteous, that leads directly to these agonizing prayers: How long is this going to last? God, where are you?

The prophet Habakkuk doesn’t like God’s answers. He can’t stand what he and his people are having to endure. None of it makes sense to him. So he keeps arguing with God. He keeps coming back to God. He struggles and accuses and complains.

“O Lord from everlasting. My God. My Holy One.” ~Habakkuk 1:12

When God’s people in Scripture complain about their troubles, when they lament the injustices of life, when they seek answer to their questions about the evil and the pain in the world, they don’t write letters to the editor, they don’t hold court in the coffee shop, they don’t call the talk shows, and they don’t join a campaign. God’s people bring their doubts and their fears, their uncertainties and questions, their complaints and arguments straight to God.

And in the case of the Psalms and Habakkuk, they do so as part of their worship, in the presence of God, in the middle of the congregation.

We’re struggling together here at GCR. We’re struggling with Mike and Amy and their family, with Lisa and John and their family, and with D’Nese and Dale and their family. This is hard. We’re struggling. Together. We’re questioning and complaining, trying to make sense of things that just don’t add up with what we know and believe about our merciful Father. But we’re struggling in faith.

God bless us. Lord, have mercy on these sweet families and on our church. God, please honor our faithful lament.



Lamenting with Habakkuk

I’m finding it helpful and even calming right now to pray with Habakkuk:

How long, O Lord, must I call for help, but you do not listen?
Or cry to you, “Violence!” but you do not save?
Why do you make me look at injustice?
Why do you tolerate wrong?
Destruction and violence are ever before me;
there is strife, and conflict abounds.
Therefore, the law is paralyzed, and justice never prevails.
The wicked hem in the righteous, so that justice is perverted.

~Habakkuk 1

How Long, O Lord?

“How long, O Lord, must I call for help, but you do not listen?
Or cry out to you, ‘Violence!’ but you do not save?
Why do you make me look at injustice?
Why do you tolerate wrong?
Destruction and violence are before me;
there is strife, and conflict abounds.
Therefore the law is paralyzed, and justice never prevails.
The wicked hem in the righteous, so that justice is perverted. “
~Habakkuk 1


“Yet I will rejoice in the Lord!” ~Habakkuk 3:18

It’s a long drive between Amarillo and Henrietta. A looooong drive. What kept me occupied for the first hour or so of my trip yesterday were the 151 text messages I had received during and after our sermon here at Central. Kasey Love’s was the very first text I received with the inspirational words from Habakkuk, followed in order by Arlene, Stephanie, Andrew, Keegan, and then 145 more. Not everybody signed their names to the texts; those made me wonder. Some of the messages were horribly misspelled as the senders were obviously in a race to get their text to me first; those made me laugh.  All of the messages were from the holy Word of God, sent to me by my brothers and sisters in Christ, in an exercise I hoped would get us all thinking about the same thing.

We all sent the message to different people, none of whom were in the building at the time. I’m assuming there were close to a thousand people who, at about 11:15 yesterday morning, received these encouraging words from Habakkuk on their phones. I’m praying those texts prompted dozens dozens of conversations last night and today among co-workers, classmates, relatives, and neighbors. “Why did you send me that text?” “What did that text mean?” “Why were y’all doing that at church?” I’m hoping our people are telling their friends today that no matter what happens, we can find great joy in knowing our God who saves us.

“Yet I will rejoice in the Lord!”

I’m hoping that at 3:18 this afternoon, more of those texts will be flying around. I’m hoping we’re all going to be reminded every day this week at 3:18 that we serve a God who has always delivered us in the past and, therefore, will always deliver us in the present and in the future. I’m hoping we’ll encourage each other with these texts. I’m hoping we’ll remind our friends that we’re praying for them. I’m hoping people will be reminded to pray for one another. And for me.

I’m looking at these names on my phone yesterday as I’m traveling south on 287: Trey. Olen. Michaela. Michelle. Scott. Amber. Tiffani. Hannah. Jake. Matt. Larry. Adam. Glen. Mike. Erin. Chris. Cameron. John. Bethany. Bradley. Jared. Tanner. Tammy. Kelly. Tim. Kim. Teri. Melissa. Lori. Monica. Lonnie. Spencer. Gary. Ashlynn. Billy. Royse Anne. Karen. Ashley. Joe. Lowery. Judy. Erica. Lisa. Laura. Robin. Greg. Francis. Lachelle. Leslie. Rodney. Michael. Tommy. Connie. Robert. Wayne. I’m praying over every one of these. 151 of them. All of them dealing with something pretty heavy, I’m sure. Each of them carrying a weight, bearing a burden, yet declaring that they will rejoice in the Lord.

“Yet I will rejoice in the Lord!”

Then at 3:18, about ten miles north of Vernon, another round of texts: Marli. Wayne. Becky. Winslow. Jeff. Lanny. Steve. Miles. Scott. Lots of others.

I’ve been told today that at 3:18 yesterday, phones were going off everywhere, flashing and beeping what I believe is the strongest statement of faith in our Scriptures.

“Yet I will rejoice in the Lord!”

I don’t know what our God is doing this week with our little text exercise. I’m not sure how he’s going to use this to his glory and praise. I’m hoping these texts and prayers will strengthen us. I’m hoping we’ll be encouraged and our faith will be renewed. I’m hoping we’ll be united as one family, together in our meditation and application of this rich passage. I’m praying we’ll be comforted in our trials, we’ll be steeled in our resolve, and we’ll be given great hope in our Savior.

“Yet I will rejoice in the Lord!”



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