Summary: When we don’t understand what God is doing in our lives it is important that we wait upon the Lord instead of drawing quick conclusions about God’s activity and character.
“Waiting On An Answer”
There have been so many times that I have run into problems, not understood what was going on in my life, or have been confused about what was happening to my friends or family members and have thought to myself – “Lord, if You would just explain all of this to me.” “If You could help me understand.” “If You would just make Your will known, then everything would be alright.” I don’t think that I am alone in having thought things like this or actually having said these things to God. I have heard many people say, “If only I could ask God,” or “I bet it was easier to have faith in Jesus’ day because He was there…you could actually see Him and what He was doing.” If you are among those of us who have believed that a skywriter carving God’s will in the sky would help in some way – Habakkuk would like to have a word with you. Today’s lesson will hopefully convince you that “faith” will always be “faith,” and not “hard, lab-tested proofs.” Let’s take a look at Habakkuk 1:12-2:1.
12 O LORD, are you not from everlasting? My God, my Holy One, we will not die. O LORD, you have appointed them to execute judgment; O Rock, you have ordained them to punish. 13 Your eyes are too pure to look on evil; you cannot tolerate wrong. Why then do you tolerate the treacherous? Why are you silent while the wicked swallow up those more righteous than themselves? 14 You have made men like fish in the sea, like sea creatures that have no ruler. 15 The wicked foe pulls all of them up with hooks, he catches them in his net, he gathers them up in his dragnet; and so he rejoices and is glad. 16 Therefore he sacrifices to his net and burns incense to his dragnet, for by his net he lives in luxury and enjoys the choicest food. 17 Is he to keep on emptying his net, destroying nations without mercy? 1I will stand at my watch and station myself on the ramparts; I will look to see what he will say to me, and what answer I am to give to this complaint. (Habakkuk 1:12-2:1 NIV)
If you will remember our study last week you will recall that God spoke to Habakkuk, after Habakkuk cried out, “Lord, why aren’t You doing something?” God let Habakkuk know that He was doing something – He was raising up the Babylonians as a judgment against Judah. Habakkuk wanted to hear from God. He heard from God. Habakkuk just didn’t like, or he didn’t understand, what he heard. As we come to our Scripture for today, Habakkuk still has questions.
What do you do when you have questions that are unanswered? What do you do when nothing makes sense? What do you do when you search the Scriptures, when you pour out your heart in prayer, when you cry out to God, but your understanding of what God is doing becomes no more clear than when your struggle first began? Those are great questions!
I’m certain that each and every one of us who are present this morning have been in situations that make absolutely no sense. We study God’s Word and we learn that the Lord uses our troubles to draw us closer to Himself. He wants to mold us into the image of His Son, teach us to be dependent upon Him alone, and He wants to use our troubles to bring glory to His name through our victory. We’ve memorized verses, we’ve bought bumper stickers, and we’ve read, “Tough Times Don’t Last, But Tough People Do.” We have the cerebral solutions, the cognitive knowledge, the theology, theorems, and theses, but when tragedy strikes and hearts break…it just doesn’t make sense. We know God’s Word, but don’t understand His ways.
Don’t feel alone, Habakkuk is right in there with us. The Apostle Paul also had to have wondered “what” and “why” when he suffered greatly from his “thorn in the flesh.” What was that thorn? Nobody knows and I believe that is a good thing. Paul’s thorn was his problem. It irritated him, bothered him, and he wanted to be rid of it. Take a look at 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 with me. Paul writes,
7 To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:7-10 NIV)