What a world we live in now! The racial division has grown deeper and wider, a 14 year old kills his father and launches into a playground school shooting while yelling "I hate my life." Politically, it is no longer democrat vs. republican or even conservative vs. liberal. It has become the political "elites" vs. the commons, or as one politician suggested - a 'basket full of deplorables.' Everyone gets labeled with some dehumanizing word while things wax worse and worse throughout our nation. There was a time when the United States of America was a shining symbol of freedom, strength, and integrity. Now, we're in a condition that the Old Testament prophet Habakkuk understood well.
Habakkuk is an Old Testament book that is unfamiliar even to most professing Christians. But it is a beautiful prayer journal offering us an inside look at Habakkuk's intimate conversations with the God of the universe. Habakkuk's ministry probably began late in the reign of King Josiah, who died in 609b.c. Josiah had led a revival in Judah by destroying the idols and high places in the land and reviving the law of God and the worship of Yahweh. Unfortunately, his son, Jehoiakim, was NOT of the same character as his father.
It was during Jehoiakim's reign that Habakkuk began to cry out to God for help and understanding. Jehoiakim's reign was marked by oppression, injustice, violence, and disdain for God's law. It was much like our climate today and Habakkuk grew impatient waiting for God to act (1:1-3) But God responds NOT with time-specific answers, but with a call live by faith (1:5; 2:3; 3:17-19). I would say that the theme of Habakkuk's prayer journal is found in Habakkuk 2:4b -- The righteous will live by faith. It is a biblical principle repeated by Paul in Romans 1:17 and Galatians 3:11. THIS is important because living by faith in the God of the universe must be more than just a mantra. Speaking of faith is mere sanctimony if that faith isn't demonstrated in life. Simply put, either you trust the Creator of the universe or you don't.
Now Habbakuk had engaged in this intimate conversation with God because of his distress over the conditions of his nation. The spiritual condition, the political, cultural, moral and legal conditions made the nation of Judah ripe for judgment. And Habbakuk interceded for himself and his nation. He followed some basic steps that are good steps for all of us who find ourselves facing overwhelming stress, issues, problems and needs. Martin Lloyd-Jones delineated those steps in his wonderful book Spiritual Depression. Here is my adaptation of those steps.
When you find yourself face to face with problems and issues you cannot resolve and don't really understand, here's a plan of action:
1) Retreat to Plan. Get away from the distractions caused by the problem and get into the presence of God. Get into His word, hear His voice, embrace His counsel. When you want to hear from God and you have the intent to obey, God will speak. But it is more likely to occur in a place where you are still and focused on Him.
2) Remember this Principle. It's not the size of the problem or issue, it's the size of your God that counts. This is the matter of faith. Either we trust Him or we don't there is no "middle ground." Pray in faith, submit to God's purpose and leave the results to Him. I love to apply Jeremiah 29:11 here. I know it was written to Israel in anticipation of their exile. BUT, it's in our scriptures for more than historical purposes. The principle is the same. God has a plan and it is perfect. Submit because He is always good.
3) Resort to the Principle. Once again, this is more than talk. It's living in obedience. Don't just remember the principle and talk about the principle. If you serve a big God, put it into practice. Everything you know about God, His word, and His promises --- just load it up and believe. If God says do something, do it! If God says go somewhere, Go! If God says wait, be still and know that He is in control.
4) Rest in the Payoff. It's called J-O-Y. When you live with the constant conviction that God is ultimately in control, there is peace, contentment, and joy even in the midst of chaos.
When Pontius Pilate to Jesus, "Why don't you talk to me? Don't you know that I have the power to release you or crucify you." Then Jesus said, "You would have no power over me at all unless it were given to you from above." John 18:10 Even as He faced the cross, Jesus was content to trust His welfare, His life into the hands of the Father.
In all that happens around us and to us, we must remember that God the Father is building HIS kingdom. Not yours nor mine. Not even the good old USA. HIS kingdom.
So in these perilous and uncertain days, we don't have to understand things. We need simply to trust God. And the best thing we can do is get into the presence of God early and often. And pray the prayer Habakkuk prayed as you pray for yourself, your family, your community, your church, and our nation;
Lord, I have heard the report about You. Lord, I stand in awe of your deeds. Revive Your work in these years; make it known in these years. In Your wrath, remember mercy. Habakkuk 3:2