The things that we worry about are amazing. It seems like even when all is calm, we go fishing for more things to worry about. Our society is one of the most materially-provided for in the history of the world right now, yet anxiety and stress are at an all-time high.
Recently I was at a men’s retreat at Camp Calvary in Southern PA. Dr. Tim Jordan, who I had not heard since my college days, did an excellent job teaching from the book of Habakkuk. The entire book is, as Pastor Tim said, “a conversation between a man and his God.”
Habakkuk starts by stating his burden, anxiety and worry for his day, which in essence is that there is no justice for the righteous (1:1-4). He is respectfully blunt with God.
God then gives Habakkuk the answer in 1:5-11. It’s not the answer that Habakkuk is looking for. In essence God says, “You think things are bad, let me tell you what is going on. It is even worse than that.”
Habakkuk then gives a second plea to God in 1:12-2:1. He talks even more about how the wicked seem to prosper and the righteous seem to suffer. This is often the burden of the Christian today as well.
God then gives a reply to the second plea in 2:2-5. He does not deny that it appears that the wicked are succeeding more than the righteous, at least on Earth. He tells Habakkuk that even though this is what it appears to be, you are not in charge of figuring it out. God reminds him to focus on what Habakkuk needs to be doing, which is expressed in 2:4: “The righteous shall live by his faith.”
God then speaks in 2:6-20 and says a couple things. First, He gives warning to the wicked. There are five “woes” pronounced to anyone who lives wickedly. In other words, there is no ultimate escape for the person who does these wicked things on earth. Even if you feel you are getting away with your sin, you are not.
Second, in 2:20 He reminds God’s people that God is ultimately in control. While many times it seems like God is not in control, He always is on His throne. Sometimes as Christians we tend to forget this and attempt to take things into our own hands. This only causes more stress and anxiety because we cannot control others.
Habakkuk states, “The LORD is in His holy temple.” In other words, even though things seem to go awry, they have not. God is still King and sitting on His throne. For us to say that there is no control in this world is to deny that our King has control of it.
This leads Habakkuk into a prayer, 3:1-16. It is a prayer of reliance on God, because in a world gone mad that we can’t control, what else can we do? It’s a prayer asking God to give mercy to His people as we suffer because of this sin-cursed world. It’s a prayer trusting that God knows what He is doing, even when it seems like He doesn’t. It’s the perfect response for the Christian who struggles with “what Christians should do in an unjust wicked world.”
Lastly, the book ends with a song of praise, 3:17-19. Habakkuk gives an “even though.” He says even though the world seems dark, even though the wicked seem to prosper, I will praise my God. I will trust in Him.
Not only does Habakkuk trust in God’s way, despite what he sees, he makes several other claims. He actually states that he is encouraged. Why is he encouraged? Because God is in control. Why can he still praise God despite what he sees in the world? Because ultimately, he will escape one day to Heaven, and unlike the wicked who reject God, he will have an escape from the wrath of God.
Christian, do you sometimes focus too much on the world’s darkness? Do you spend more time thinking about that or thinking about God being in control of it? Do you spend too much time being worried about the wicked prospering, or trusting in the God of the cosmos to exact justice in His time?
Thanks for taking time to read this Maddening Theology post. If you enjoyed this content you can find Pastor Tim’s sermons at www.cornerstoneforestcity.org. You can also join us at 520 Marion St. Browndale, PA 18421 on Sundays at 10:45 AM. To make following the blog easier you can also register. You can also join us on Facebook at Cornerstone Forest City. Also, don’t forget to download our APP on iTunes or Googleplay.