Tag Archives: Habakkuk 3:17-19

Pouring Your Heart Out

Do we think we shouldn’t question God?  Have no right to ask him what he’s doing?  Think we shouldn’t moan to him about our lot, because it “is”?

Habakkuk had no such worries – and because he asked, God answered him, which gave him peace.

Habakkuk 1:1-4

I am Habakkuk the prophet. And this is the message that the Lord gave me.

Habakkuk Complains to the Lord

Our Lord, how long must I beg
for your help

    before you listen?
How long before you save us
    from all this violence?
Why do you make me watch
    such terrible injustice?
Why do you allow violence,
lawlessness,
crime, and cruelty
    to spread everywhere?
Laws cannot be enforced;
    justice is always the loser;
criminals crowd out honest people
    and twist the laws around.

The Lord Answers Habakkuk Again

While standing guard
    on the watchtower,
I waited for the Lord’s answer,
before explaining the reason
    for my complaint.
Then the Lord told me:
“I will give you my message
    in the form of a vision.
Write it clearly enough
    to be read at a glance.
At the time I have decided,
    my words will come true.
You can trust what I say
    about the future.
It may take a long time,
but keep on waiting—
    it will happen!

“I, the Lord, refuse to accept
    anyone who is proud.
Only those who live by faith
    are acceptable to me.”

I may have mentioned before how much I love Habakkuk.  Discovering this book kept me sane for a long time when (almost) my whole world was falling apart.

In fact, having gone back and read it again, I’m going to repeat what I said three years ago, because it still very much holds true:

I don’t know about you, but I’ve got a list of questions I want to ask God when I get to meet him.

I think that’s why I love the book of Habakkuk.  Habakkuk is a man not afraid to ask difficult questions of God.

He sees the injustice in the world.  That evil people prosper, and the honest struggle.

He asks God, “How long?”  How long until you answer my questions, how long until you do something?  How long until the law and justice find their place in the world again?

God answers Habakkuk – the time is coming.  The world will be sorted out, but it may seem like a long time to us.  We may yet have times of questioning to come.

Sometimes we think we shouldn’t question God – that he is almighty, and knows what he is doing.  That’s the very reason why we should ask him!  We know that questioning is a good learning tool, so why not ask questions of God, if it is what is really on our heart – because that is what God longs to hear – what is on our heart.

If we don’t get the answer to our prayers that we want to, do we give up?  Are we faithful in prayer, bringing situations to God, and waiting for him to deal with them?  The life of faith may require continuing belief, long after reason and knowledge have been exhausted.  But it is right faith, because God is a faithful God.

Life is full of unanswered questions – for now.  One day it will all make sense to us, because we will see the full picture when God reveals it.

The best thing about Habakkuk for me is he learns to live with the questions.  Habakkuk’s faith, though tested, is not broken.  His faith, his experience of God, is that God will answer.  God is watching – his answer – “Wait – for God’s time”.

His book ends with these words:

Fig trees may no longer bloom,
or vineyards produce grapes;
olive trees may be fruitless,
and harvest time a failure;
sheep pens may be empty,
and cattle stalls vacant–but I will still celebrate
because the LORD God
saves me.
The LORD gives me strength.
He makes my feet as sure
as those of a deer,
and he helps me stand on the mountains.

Even though, even though all these things are still happening, we can trust that God is in ultimate control.  All may not yet be right with the world, but God continues to hold us and gives us the strength we need.  Habakkuk found a way to live with not always having answers, but finding something in that, and still being able to cling on because of his faith in God, when everything else had left him.

We might only be hanging on by our fingertips, but God is hanging on to us.

To quote that old saying,

We may not know what the future holds, but we know who holds the future

God is with us in the mess and the pain.

So let’s pray.  Lets wait on God.  And let’s share with the world what God says.


Don’t be afraid to pour your heart out to God, to ask him questions.  It shows you care.  And God will answer.

Thank you Lord
that you are someone we can always talk to,
always share the truth of our emotions with;
that you don’t recoil
and are not shocked by our audacity.
Thank you that you want to know the truth of our feelings
and can deal with it.

So today,
I bring you my questions,
my anger,
my fear
– knowing that you can take it,
hold it
and hold me.

Thank you
that though the way may not seem obvious,
that we may not be able to see even the light at the end of the tunnel,
even though life throws its worst at us
You are still God,
you love me,
you hold me tight
and help me to stand against the storms.

 

I Promise

Thanks to http://angelkath.deviantart.com/art/keep-the-promise-44344052

prom·ise [prom-is]  noun, verb, prom·ised, prom·is·ing. 

noun 

1. a declaration that something will or will not be done, given, etc., by one: unkept political promises. 

2. an express assurance on which expectation is to be based: promises that an enemy will not win. 

3. something that has the effect of an express assurance; indication of what may be expected.

A promise is a commitment…

Genesis 15:1-6

The Lord’s Promise to Abram

15 Later the Lord spoke to Abram in a vision, “Abram, don’t be afraid! I will protect you and reward you greatly.”

But Abram answered, “Lord All-Powerful, you have given me everything I could ask for, except children. And when I die, Eliezer of Damascus will get all I own. You have not given me any children, and this servant of mine will inherit everything.”

The Lord replied, “No, he won’t! You will have a son of your own, and everything you have will be his.” Then the Lord took Abram outside and said, “Look at the sky and see if you can count the stars. That’s how many descendants you will have.” Abram believed the Lord, and the Lord was pleased with him.

Thanks to: http://www.ForestWander.com [CC-BY-SA-3.0-us (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/us/deed.en)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

 

God promised Abraham that he would reward him and protect him.  Yet Abraham still wants more.  He wants children, and God promises him he will have many descendants.

To be honest, I’m a bit jealous of this promise to Abraham.  He tells God what he wants, and God promises to fulfil it – in abundance.  It all seems so simple.  Yet life is not always like that.

How many of us cry out to God for something that we want, and yet we never see it, never receive that same promise from God.  It’s enough to make you lose faith in God ( or yourself?  Maybe it’s me?  I’m not as good/worthy as Abraham)

Why does God promise this to Abraham?  Why doesn’t he promise it to me?  Is it a general promise that whatever we want, God will provide; or a specific and necessary promise to Abraham.

I genuinely think it is the latter.  We hear lots in the bible about promises God does keep, but I suppose no one bothered recording the ones they didn’t think he had!  There were people who had to struggle with their life as it was, seemingly with God not answering their pleas.  Think Job, think my hero Habakkuk.  We cry out to God, and it appears to make no difference, it seems he’s not listening – or if he does he ignores us.  We long for things to be different.  Our heart breaks.  Our lives are lived in despair.  Why is God not answering my longing?

And you read passages like this and it all seems so simple.

Yet, faith is just that, as we considered last week. If we believe in God, part of that is trusting him.  Allowing him to do what is right, not what we want.  And relying on him to sustain us in our pain and frustration; to wipe our tears, hold us safely in his arms as we sob, and giving us the strength when we think we can no longer go on with how things are.

Habakkuk 3:17-19

Trust in a Time of Trouble

17 Fig trees may no longer bloom,
    or vineyards produce grapes;
olive trees may be fruitless,
    and harvest time a failure;
sheep pens may be empty,
    and cattle stalls vacant—
18 but I will still celebrate
because the Lord God
    saves me.
19 The Lord gives me strength.
He makes my feet as sure
    as those of a deer,
and he helps me stand
    on the mountains.

I do think God keeps his promises, ultimately.  The answers may not be what we think they should be, they may not be as spectacular as Abraham’s was, they may take longer than we think (remember Abraham took matters into his own hand when he thought God wasn’t delivering on this promise quick enough – God has a time and a place).  But God is faithful and true.  He is worthy of our faith and trust, he delivers on his promises, whether we recognise it or not.  But we have to give him the scope to fulfil them his way and in his time.  And allow him to give us the strength to hang on in there while he does.

Thank you Lord
for your promises.
I don’t always understand them,
sometimes I want to push them,
to make them work the way I want.

Thank you Lord,
that you know what is the very best,
for me
and for the complex web that is the world.

Thank you
that you hold me tight,
when it feels that my world is falling apart,
not following the path I expected,
not fulfilling my dreams.

Thank you
that you never let me go,
that however much it feels like it at times,
I will not drown,
that you have a deeper purpose in and through me,
that your promises are not in vain
– though sometimes unexpected.

Lord,help me not to be blinkered
in what I see
and what I fail to see

Wilderness Times

For Christians this wilderness is a place of discovery (p88)

Amen and amen.  No one wants to be in the wilderness, we would rather be in a place of comfort and pleasure.  But it is in the wilderness we learn who and what matters.  What will support and sustain us.  Who we can rely on.

I once spent several months, deep in my own wilderness.  I won’t go into detail, but it was a place where no one could reach me.  I was functioning of a sort, but I was lost and lonely.  Things that I had been ignoring finally reared their head and had to be dealt with.  I always explain it as all the stuff that I had been just pushing under the carpet, pretending they weren’t there, that they didn’t matter – well I turned round and fell over that pile I had buried there.  It was not a good place to be, but it was the place I finally had to confront what had happened, how I really felt, and what I was going to do about it now.

I discovered a lot about myself, and that time went a long way to making me the person I am now, and informing how I deal with other people.  I matured a lot.  I learned things weren’t black and white.  I learned that however sore and tender scars are, better to know them than ignore them.  Even as I came out of the wilderness, the scars are still there, and I think for me need to be, but I have learned to live with them (most of the time) by acknowledging them.  That was something I never did while I was living life pretending everything was alright.  It was only in going into the wilderness that made me face up to what was going on, sweep out the pile, and start to sort it.

I would have much preferred not to go there, but once there, I knew I had to stay there, confront stuff and sort it out, otherwise I would be no good to anyone or myself.  I guess it was my broken and being remoulded.

But I knew the arms of God around me.  Giving me the space to allow me to break apart and come back together again.

The Hand of God by Rodin By Yair Haklai (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

It was the time when I grew to love the end of Habakkuk:

Trust in a Time of Trouble

17 Fig trees may no longer bloom,
or vineyards produce grapes;
olive trees may be fruitless,
and harvest time a failure;
sheep pens may be empty,
and cattle stalls vacant—
18 but I will still celebrate
because the Lord God
saves me.
19 The Lord gives me strength.
He makes my feet as sure
as those of a deer,
and he helps me stand
on the mountains.

The wilderness doesn’t always give us answers or make all things right, but it gives us knowledge of what is, how things are.  Broken I might be, but God will give me the strength to stand secure.

In Jesus arms in the picture of The Hen, there is a space.  God’s love and care is not crushing or suffocating, but makes a space in which we are safe for whatever to happen.  Like the chick in the picture stretching its wings to see if it can fly.  We know that God is there, wrapping his arms around us, watching over us, loving us.

I’m not sure I sat down to tell you any of that, but that’s what happens with art and a well written reflective book…

Hope it makes some sense and helps in the lenten, and lifetime, journey of discovery 🙂

These thoughts are reflecting on Stanley Spencer’s painting The Hen (seen here).

This year for Lent, I am reading Christ in the Wilderness by Bishop Stephen Cottrell, published by SPCK, reflecting on Stanley Spencer’s paintings of that title.

I’m not necessarily going to blog every day on it, just when something leaps out at me – and they will be thoughts rather than full blog posts