Habakkuk

Tuesday Devotional: Habakkuk 1

bibleHabbakuk 1

“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.”

I am raising up the Babylonians,
that ruthless and impetuous people,
who sweep cross the whole earth
to seize dwelling places not their own.”

God is unbelievable.  The Bible is unbelievable.  The Gospels are unbelievable.  Jesus is unbelievable.  Not because they cannot by trusted and therefore must be false,  but because they contradict our human nature and instincts as storytellers so much that if they could not possibly have been created for literary or moral purposes.  The Bible contains far more honesty than we like.  It contains far more justice than we are comfortable with.  It also contains far more wisdom than we are even able to fathom.

The God of the Bible never acts out of consideration for our feelings, interests or desires.  The God of the Bible ONLY acts on behalf of what is true and what is just.  Therefore, when we need correction, He gives it.  When we need instruction, He gives it.  When we need compassion and gentleness, He gives it.  When we need discipline, He gives it.  In fact, God challenges us to believe the unbelievable in regards to His approach to discipline and suffering.  Through Jesus we no longer have to fear punishment from God, but suffering persists.  Why?  If the suffering is not a sign of God punishment, what is it?

The purpose of our suffering or hard times has one purpose and one purpose only.  It is ONLY to see God as sovereign and us as entirely fallible.  As Jesus is Emmanuel and therefore with us in any and all situations, the purpose of the suffering is ONLY to move us to seek the face of Jesus, to take up His grace in order to carry us through the storm.  But let us never forget that suffering will persist.  Bearing the name of Christ not only means that suffering will persist but that it will inevitably increase. 

But in the face of increasing suffering we are never to disown the name of Jesus by interpreting our hard time as the divine punishment only Jesus has any right or claim to.  We were not and are not punished because Jesus already was.  Therefore, the suffering we experience is present with us to reveal the presence of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  And in His name and because of His Lordship we will prevail amidst the suffering and we will see His face in the storm.  The presence of God in our lives through Jesus does not yield to suffering and sin.  It overcomes sin and suffering entirely.  Jesus rose on the third victorious over sin and death proclaiming, “Where, O death, is your sting?  Where, O death, is your victory?”  God allows suffering to a degree of such intensity that to create such a God out of thin air would not only fail to appeal to anyone but would be mocked rather than worshipped.  While one side of the world writhes back in disbelief in the face of God’s grace and compassion, the other writhes back in the face of God’s justice.  The only message relevant to the entire world is a message that is true to both sides of the world.  In Jesus, truth is united at the cross, revealing God’s grace and justice simultaneously.  The extent of both God’s grace and His justice are truly unbelievable, but in Jesus they CAN be believed and they CAN do more than we think.

 

Tuesday Devotional: Habakkuk 1

bibleRead Habakkuk 1:1-4

We are troubled by what happens in this world.  There are times in each of our lives where not only can we not understand the will of God, but we absolutely disagree with it.  There are times when good things happen to those not at all interested in God, and there are as many times when dedicated disciple experiences tragedy.  Observing these situations, we cannot help but ask “Why?”  Where is justice?  Where is faithfulness?  Where are the promises of God?

Our perception of who God really is affects every moment of our life with him, and the matter is no different in this instance.  Many view God as simply an all-powerful deity who orders us to serve and will judge and punish us if we refuse.  If that were so, being openly upset and angry with the will of God would be a punishable offense, to be avoided at all cost.  However, the God of the Bible never represents himself this way.  Is he a king to be honored and served?  Yes.  Does he have plans to judge and punish the wickedness in this world?  Yes.  However, is his character limited to these very two-dimensional attributes?  Absolutely not.  The God of the Bible is first and foremost creator and father.  While a father might know full-well that his will and plan are beyond the understanding of a complaining child, he will patiently listen to the child, seeing the necessity in allowing the child to express his or her emotions.  It is no different with God.  While he is well aware that we are perpetually shortsighted and hyper-critical of things we do not understand, Father God desires a relationship with his children, and at the heart of any fruitful relationship is communication.  Providing answers is not the sole purpose of communication; expressing emotion, even negative emotions like anger, is a vital part of communicating in a relationship.

While we must always understand the greater perspective of God, and be ready to not understand and avoid judgment or resentment towards him, we must not overlook the importance of sharing our complete heart with him, good and bad.  The fact is, he already knows our displeasure in what he has allowed to happen.  He simply wishes to hear us and be heard himself.