Summary: Tragedy is often difficult to cope with, hard to understand, hard to explain, and it’s hard on our faith. Tragedy often causes people to lay the blame for these events on God. This will often cause these people to become bitter and cynical toward Him. Of
When God Can’t Be Explained
Introduction: As we look back over the last several years, we see recent history dotted with some very tragic events. Middle Eastern terrorists have made a number of attacks against America in various ways - their crowning achievement, of course, being 9/11. The tsunami that wiped out vast portions of Southern Asia. Hurricanes Katrina and Rita wreaked major devastation along our Gulf Coast. Lots of death, physical hurt and pain, property damage, and financial woes related to these and so many other tragedies that have befallen us.
Tragedy is often difficult to cope with, hard to understand, hard to explain, and it’s hard on our faith. Tragedy often causes people to lay the blame for these events on God. This will often cause these people to become bitter and cynical toward Him. Oftentimes, people cry out to God for some kind of explanation but get nothing but silence in return. They will ask for some kind of understanding and yet God seems to leave them baffled.
We must come to understand that life is, indeed, a mystery. Much of what happens in life is simply beyond us. We do not understand why some people have cancer; why some people are involved in tragic accidents; why some people suffer premature heart attacks; why some people live in constant pain, while others live relatively trouble free lives. And, you know, even if it were explained to us, we probably wouldn’t be satisfied with the answer. We long for sensibility. We seek explanation. We are desperate for reason.
There is a fundamental truth that is inherent throughout all of scripture: God never explains Himself. He rarely gives reasons. The events that unfold in our world seldom make sense. We, therefore, are confronted with and must learn to live by the very basic tenant of Christianity: "The righteous live by faith."
We speak a great deal about faith; but, do we really have a clear understanding of what faith is? When asked what faith is, some will immediately quote Hebrews 11:1 - "faith is the reality of what is hoped for, the proof of what is not seen." (11:1). Webster’s dictionary defines faith as "the assent of the mind to the truth of what is declared by another, resting on his authority." A true understanding of faith is based upon one’s understanding of God. If we do not believe God is almighty, all-powerful, all wise, all knowing, we cannot rest our faith completely in Him. Personal faith is based upon our understanding of God and our willingness to place our complete trust in Him.
Let’s consider what Habakkuk had to say about this idea of faith and the very basic tenant of Christianity - the righteous living by this faith.
Text: Habakkuk 1:1-4, 2:4, 3:17-19
What is it Habakkuk is trying to teach us here? He is laying out the framework for:
1. An Expression of Faith
A. Habakkuk penned what is perhaps the greatest expression of undaunted faith in the Scriptures.
1. Most prophets spoke to the people for God, but Habakkuk spoke to God for the people.
2. He lived in very difficult times - times that were hard on faith.
3. He saw the righteous suffering and the wicked prospering.
4. He asked God the same two questions we often ask: “Why?” and “How long?”
a. Why are these things happening?
b. How long will it be before they are made right?
B. God revealed to Habakkuk that He was about to use the Babylonians as an instrument of judgment on the Hebrew people.
1. Habakkuk could not understand nor explain why.
2. For a time, God intended to allow evil to win over righteousness - bad things would happen to good people.
3. God’s hand would not move; His face would not be seen.
4. Yet throughout this time of punishment, God reminded Habakkuk that correct living was expected He said: "The righteous will live by his faith" (Hab. 2:4).
C. Although Habakkuk did not understand God’s ways and timing, he did understand that he must continue to trust God’s wisdom, love, and reliability.
1. His great affirmation of faith is revealed in his words recorded in 3:17-19:
"Though the fig tree does not bud and there is no fruit on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will triumph in the LORD; I will rejoice in the God of my salvation! Yahweh my Lord is my strength; He makes my feet like those of a deer and enables me to walk on mountain heights!"
2. He affirmed that even if everything he relied on failed, if everything that brought stability to his life crumbled, he would still trust the Lord.