Summary: BIG IDEA: God is good enough to welcome our questions, and great enough to handle our doubts.
Things You Can’t Talk About In Church: “Doubt”
INTRODUCTION: 3 children of a missionary couple were called in for dinner after they’d been playing outside. Their mother said, "Be sure to wash your hands." The little boy scowled and said, "Germs and Jesus. Germs and Jesus. That’s all I hear, and I’ve never seen either one of them."
Last week my wife & I visited the Holocaust Museum in Washington, and amid the recreation of those stark horrors rises this question—where was God during the Holocaust?
>>One thing we don’t often talk about in church is DOUBT. Sometimes I think we unwittingly send the message that doubt is not okay here, that faith should leave no room for it, that it’s a sin. There are several misconceptions about doubt that we need to clear up today. The first is this:
I. God is good enough to welcome our questions.
>>As Rob Bell observes in his book Velvet Elvis,
A. Questions are central to faith.
1. They make us look outside ourselves.
a. A question by its very nature acknowledges that the person asking the question does not have all the answers.
b. And because the person does not have all the answers, they are looking outside of themselves for guidance.
2. They reveal humility.
a. Questions, no matter how shocking or blasphemous or arrogant or ignorant or raw, are rooted in humility.
b. Humility that understands that I am not God, and there is more to know.
3. They bring freedom—freedom that I don’t have to be God and I don’t have to pretend that I have it all figured out. Freedom to not have to always be right. I can let God be God.
B. Questions don’t anger God.
1. In the book of Genesis, Abraham questions God about God’s purpose to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah. He actually gets into a bargaining session with God, questioning God. And God not only doesn’t get angry, but seems to engage with Abraham all the more. (Maybe that’s who God is looking for—people who don’t just sit there and mindlessly accept whatever comes their way.)
2. Moses tries for two chapters to convince God that He’s picked the wrong guy for the job, yet God seems all the more convinced with each question that He has picked the right man.
3. What’s the first thing Mary says to the angel who brings her the news that she’s going to be the mother of the Messiah? “But how can this be? I’m a virgin!”
4. What are some of Jesus’ final words on the Cross? “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Jesus, on the cross, is questioning God his Father.
>>And then there’s this OT prophet named Habakkuk. Habakkuk had him some questions. Habakkuk wrestles with a problem that faces every age: why does God seem inactive in the face of evil and injustice?
The northern kingdom of Israel had fallen to Assyria in 722 BC, and now the rising Babylonian Empire was on the horizon. In Habakkuk’s day, the rulers of the southern kingdom of Judah were known as evildoers in the eyes of the Lord. As an agent of judgment in God’s hand, the Babylonians invaded Judah in 605 BC. Against this background Habakkuk realizes not only is God good enough to welcome our questions, but also
II. God is great enough to handle our doubts
A. Question #1: “God, are you there?” (1:2-4)
1. Habakkuk begins by asking, “God, are you there?” (1:1-4). We believe God is there, but we live our lives with an eye toward other things, just in case He isn’t:
a. By looking for love in all the wrong places—we seek security in others.
b. By looking for worth in all the rat races—we form our identity around what we do.
c. By liking our sin and abusing God’s graces—we hold onto our sin because it makes us feel alive, but our sin grieves God and hurts us.
2. God’s response (1:5-11) shows Habakkuk that He IS there, He responds to us, and He exceeds our expectations.
3. ILLUSTRATION: Scuba diving instructors tell their charges to "feel the bubbles." When it’s pitch black and you have no idea which way to go, you reach up with your hand and feel the bubbles. The bubbles always drift to the surface. When you can’t trust your feelings or judgment, you can always trust the bubbles to get you back to the top. When we aren’t sure what to trust, we can always trust God.
B. Question #2: “God, are you fair?” (1:12-17)
1. The nature of the Lord’s first response prompts several realizations and reassurances, and then more complaints from Habakkuk (1:12-17). The Lord responds again (2). Habakkuk responds with more realizations, reassurances, and a deeper knowledge of God (3).