We've all faced a crisis of belief. You thought God was close, God was good, and God was just, but that doesn’t seem to be the case because what you see with your eyes and experience in your life is very different from what you believe in your heart and so, you started questioning your faith.
That’s called the dip, and everyone goes through it but how you choose to respond to the dip is incredibly important because your response will shape your faith.
Today we’re wrapping up a series where we’ve been looking at the private journal of a prophet named Habakkuk; a guy who knows exactly what it’s like to have some tough questions for God.
Before we wrap up, let’s recap what’s going on in Habakkuk . . .
Habakkuk was a prophet who lived in the 7th Century BC and his people were in a heap of trouble. The nation of Israel was falling apart. There’s evil, suffering, and injustice everywhere and it seems that God is just sitting on the sidelines watching it happen.
And this is so frustrating for Habakkuk and so he goes to God and says . . . Are you seriously just going to sit there and keep silent?
Finally, God breaks his silence and he says, “Ok, I’ll tell you what I’m going to do. I’m going to get rid of your king by rousing up the Babylonians and they’re going to come in and rough you up a little bit. They’ll conquer your country, drag your people off into exile, and destroy your temple.”
Well, this wasn’t the response Habakkuk was looking for, so he says to God, “You got a plan B? Because those guys are bad dudes, way worse than our king. How could you use those guys to punish us?”
That’s chapter one . . . Habakkuk is experiencing a crisis of belief. He’s frustrated and he’s questioning. And his questions were based on a premise: that God is good, God is fair, and that he can’t tolerate evil. He’s asking God why you aren’t acting in a way that is consistent with who I believe you to be.
And when you experience a crisis of belief, you have 3 options.
- Some try to go back to the last point of a spiritual high and pretend like everything is still great. If you just get your worship jam on and listen to an inspiring pastor, everything will be fine.
- Others might say, God, if you’re going to let things happen that I think are unfair, then forget You. I’m out of here.
- Or the third option, is you can hang on, and continue to follow God, even when you don’t understand.
If you do that, you’ll get to chapter two. In Chapter Two, Habakkuk goes into a season of waiting.
He says, “I will climb up to my watchtower . . . a high place where I can see for miles and miles . . . and stand at my guard post. There I will wait to see what the Lord says.”
Habakkuk didn’t understand what God was doing so he stopped what he was doing, and he changed his surroundings because sometimes, when we change our surroundings, we get a different perspective.
Habakkuk didn’t understand God’s perspective and so he changed his and then he waits for an answer that he knows can only come from God.
And then God speaks . . . he says to Habakkuk, “Alright, you want to know what’s going on? You want to know where I am in the dip? . . . then grab some paper and take notes because I don’t want you to forget what I’m about to tell you.
You see, God knows something about us . . . we tend to forget his promises, especially when problems and conflicts and suffering pile up as high as a mountain in front of us.
That’s where we left Habakkuk in chapter 2 . . . just waiting.
Finally, we get to Chapter Three, and even though Habakkuk’s circumstances don’t change, his faith and worship of God goes to a new level . . . some call it a Chapter Three faith.
This kind of faith is described in the New Testament by James, when he says, “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”
That’s the result of Chapter 3 faith; it’s where you find peace, joy, fulfillment, and trust.
But here’s the problem, none of us want to go through chapter one and two, to get Chapter 3 faith.
We don’t want to do the part where James says, “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials”. We don’t want trials and tests. We don’t want conflicts and suffering. But you can’t get to chapter 3, without going through chapter one and two.
That means that at some point in our lives, or maybe at more than one point, God will take us through chapter 1, where we have questions and challenges to our faith, and he’ll also take us through chapter 2, where we have to wait and wait and wait because God’s ultimate goal, is to build in each of us a chapter 3 faith . . . if we’ll let him.
So, with that foundation laid, let’s pick up where we left off last week in chapter 3. The text begins by saying that this is a prayer of Habakkuk on shigionoth. Some of you are saying, on shiggy what?
It’s a musical term, which means wild and enthusiastic. So, this chapter was written as a song. And his song is not a dirge or a sad song of lament like something has died.
Instead, it’s a song set to wild and enthusiastic music . . . I love this!
The word enthusiasm is a compound Greek word: en and Theos—God in. To be enthusiastic about something means that you see God working in something.
In his waiting, Habakkuk gains this new perspective of a God that is so much bigger than his problems, so he starts to sing a passionate, enthusiastic song of remembrance of who God is and what he has done.
He says, “God, I remember when You delivered us out of Egypt and You guided Your people by fire and by a cloud, and I remember when You fed us with bread from Heaven. And I remember when the waters parted, and we walked through, and I remember when You shook the earth and the walls came tumbling down, and I remember when You used torrential rains to defeat the enemy.
God, I remember what You’re capable of . . . In my worship I am reminded of who you are and what you’ve done, and I believe that you can do it again”
You see, when you’re waiting on God, and you want to grow in faith, the first thing to do is remember what God has done, then ask him to do it again.
Now, some of you might say “I’ve never seen God do amazing miracles” . . . It doesn’t have to be that dramatic. For those of you who’ve been believers for any amount of time, I guarantee you, if you think about it, God will bring to your mind some things He’s done.
- It could be the time where you just didn’t know what to do and you came to church, and it was like God inspired that message just for you, and you’re saying, God you are amazing, you knew exactly what I needed to hear.
- Or, maybe it was the time where you were hurting, and you turned on the radio and there was this song that was like God’s message to you.
- Or, maybe you were reading the Bible and you came across a verse, and you were like, “That is exactly what I needed to hear, God must have put that there just for me,”
- Or, maybe it was as simple as a time when you were hurting, and there was someone there who prayed for you, or encouraged you, and you felt like God sent that person along just for you.
It doesn’t have to be something dramatic, but we need to remember what God has done and then ask him to renew them in our day. That’s an enthusiastic prayer of faith. A prayer that says, God I believe that you are in this.
Let’s keep going . . . Habakkuk, didn’t like God’s plan, he didn’t like the idea of the Babylonians coming, to punish his nation, but he got to a place where he recognized and accepted what God was doing.
And this is important for us to hear because too many of us try to deny reality, rather than deal with it; if you just ignore it, then maybe it will just go away. But if you want to experience a chapter three faith, then you need to accept what God is doing, even if you don’t like it.
Habakkuk says, “I heard, and my heart pounded, my lips quivered at the sound; decay crept into my bones, and my legs trembled.”
In other words, when I heard what God said, I was shaking like a leaf, I knew it was not going to be pleasant . . . but then he says, “Yet I will wait patiently for the day of calamity to come on the nation invading us.”
I am going to wait patiently, because I know that God will eventually make it right.
When Habakkuk heard from God, he didn’t ignore it. He recognized what God was doing, he accepted it, and said, “This is not going to be a fun season. In fact, a lot of innocent people are going to die. Maybe me, maybe many of those that I love, and I don’t like it. But nevertheless, I trust God and I’ll accept what He is doing.
Our best guess is that Habakkuk wrote this about 605bc. The Babylonians attacked in 597, 8 years later. We don’t know what happened to Habakkuk. He may have survived, he may not. But the point is, sometimes God does things that we don’t understand.
And though he promises to always work everything together for our good, in the long term, He doesn’t always work things together, for our comfort and ease. So, we need to recognize what God is doing, even if we don’t like it.
But that’s not where we stop, because Habakkuk does one more thing . . .
In Verse 17, He makes one of the greatest statements of faith in the entire Bible. He says: Though the fig tree does not bud, and there are no grapes on the vine, and though the olive crop fails, and the fields fail to produce food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice.”
Most of you aren’t farmers, and you don’t have figs, grapes, olives, or crops. So, maybe what this looks like in your life is . . .
- Even though my spouse said ‘til death do us part and didn’t live up to the word, yet, I will rejoice in the Lord.
- Even though I raised my kids to know better, and they’re making very bad decisions right now, yet I will rejoice in the Lord.
- Even though we’ve prayed for someone to get healed and that’s just not happening, yet I will rejoice in the Lord.
- Even though I can’t find a job and finances are tough, yet I will rejoice in the Lord.
- Even though my relationship with a friend is broken, yet I will rejoice in the Lord.
- Even though I don’t like the way things are, even though I don’t understand it, even though I know God could and I think he should, but He’s not, yet I will rejoice in the Lord.
Habakkuk says, when the worst comes, I’m going to rejoice anyway.
You might say, that’s ridiculous. How can I thank God when things are bad? How can I rejoice when I’m suffering?
I mean, it is easy to celebrate, sing, and worship God with enthusiasm, when things are going well. But it is very hard to worship when everything that you were hoping for, and longing for, and dreaming of, does not come to pass.
The key is this: You thank God for who he is, not just what he does. And you praise God for what he has done, not just what he’s doing right now. And you can only do that, if you trust him.
Habakkuk is saying, “I am rejoicing because of who God is and what he’s already done. In fact, if he never showed up again and he never did another thing for me, I still have enough to sing about for the rest of my days.”
He finishes his journal with these words . . .
“The Lord God is my strength [my source of courage, my invincible army]; He has made my feet [steady and sure] like hinds’ feet. And makes me walk [forward with spiritual confidence] on my high places [of trouble, suffering, and responsibility].”
You know what hind’s feet are? It’s the feet of a mountain deer.
Let’s watch this video together so we can understand what he’s talking about.
Isn’t that cool?
What he is saying is that you don’t have to be paralyzed by fear because God is your source of strength. He is like an invincible army.
When problems and conflicts and suffering pile up as high as a mountain in front of me, when circumstances are hard, when darkness seems to cover my life, when sorrow and pain and sickness pile up in front of me like a mountain that’s when God makes my feet like those of a mountain deer, so I can walk with confidence right over the top of that mountain.
I can keep right on going no matter what comes, because the Sovereign Lord is my strength. And God enables me to rise above, anything that comes along. So, I will rejoice no matter what comes, I’ll worship God no matter what I see, I’ll be joyful in God my savior, because I trust Him no matter what.
May that be so for us!!