Summary: The frustration and lack of understanding of God’s actions in the previous prayers of Habakkuk are turned to a humble prayer of adoration and a request to remember mercy as God judges.
A Change Of Heart
There is a storm on the horizon. The black, billowing clouds have formed and are raging in anticipation of wreaking havoc on its victims. The thunderous noise sends chills down your spine. There is no hiding, no turning back the impending onslaught of coming disaster, and fear grips your soul. Oh, the storm is not the kind forecast by weathermen on the nightly news. The storm is not a tornado or hurricane stirred by atmospheric disturbances, but the storms of life that rock our worlds and holds us hostage in the grip of fear and anxiety. The storms of the soul and heart are more powerful than any atmospheric agitation, more destructive than any tornadic test or howling winds of a hurricane, and strike at every heart and every home.
The storms are not as predicable as those that batter our homes and cause floods and destruction upon property and even lost lives. The storms of life come in all forms and strike at us from every direction. They attack our physical health as the doctor tells us that he is sorry, but there is nothing more that can be done. They strike at our home and family as a mother or father, a husband or wife, decides that they no longer want to honor the vow of faithfulness they pledged at the altar before the God who they once believed led them to the love of their life. They strike at the illusion of control as we find ourselves powerless to turn the heart of a rebellious child back home. They strike at our sense of security as the company that we’ve given our time and loyalty to for years decides to downsize and we get caught in the “fat” that is trimmed away. They strike at our walk with God as we pray in faith for the solution for our problems, but we still suffer…and in our suffering conclude that God has not heard our prayers. Or worse yet, that He just doesn’t care.
The storms of life oftentimes lead us to conclusions that are so wrong. They cause us to lose our sense of confidence in the God of history who has made promises to sustain and care for His people regardless of what may come. They cause us to question God’s sovereignty and lead us to believe that we are all alone in a cruel and uncaring world. The storms of life are not meant to bring about these things in our hearts and minds, but so many people’s faith becomes a tangled mess when they are racked with pain.
I read a story this past week about a woman who said that she grew up poor, desperately poor. She said, "I grew up in a cold water flat, but I married a man who had money. And he took me up to a place where I had flowers, and I had gardens, and I had grass. It was wonderful. And we had children.”
While living her dream she wondered how things could get any better for her Cinderella-like life. The lady then experienced a dramatic change of circumstances in her life. She said, "Suddenly I became physically sick. I went to the hospital, and the doctors ran all sorts of tests. One night the doctor came into my room, and with a long look on his face, said, ‘I’m sorry to tell you this. Your liver has stopped working.’ "I said, ‘Doctor, wait a minute. Wait just a minute. Are you telling me that I am dying?’ And he said, ‘I, I can’t tell you any more than that. Your liver has stopped working. We’ve done everything we can to start it.’ And he walked out.”
She said, "I knew I was dying. I was so weak, I had to feel my way along the corridor down to the chapel of the hospital. I wanted to tell God off. I wanted to tell God, ‘You are a shyster! You’ve been passing yourself off as a loving God for two thousand years, but every time anyone begins to get happy you pull the rug out from under them.’ I wanted this to be a face-to-face telling off of God.”
In an instant the dream-like existence of the lady had turned into her worst nightmare. She described her journey to the chapel by saying. "And just as I got into the center aisle of the chapel, I tripped, I swooned, I fainted. Lying on the floor I looked up, and there stenciled along the step into the sanctuary, where the altar is, I saw these words: ‘LORD, BE MERCIFUL TO ME A SINNER.’ I know God spoke to me that night. I know he did."
She didn’t say how God communicated this to her, but what God said was, "You know what this is all about. It’s about the moment of surrender; it’s about bringing you to that moment when you will surrender everything to me. These doctors, they do the best they can, but they only treat illnesses. I’m the only one who can cure you." And then she said, "There with my head down on my folded arms in the center of the chapel, repeating, ‘Lord, be merciful to me a sinner,’ I surrendered to God. I found my way back to my hospital bed, weak as I was.”