Summary: An expository sermon on Habakkuk and what Habakkuk has to say to us about times when we doubt God is in control.
Why Whys Aren’t Wise
Viktor was seated in a crowded train headed for Budapest. He was one of the leading bee experts in Hungary and he was transporting a box of bees, which he had placed under his seat. He was enjoying the passing scenery and the cool breeze coming from the open window. As he was talking to the passenger seated next to him, he felt something crawling up his leg. Then he felt two and then three somethings crawling up his leg. As he pulled up his pant leg and looked down, he discovered that his bees had escaped from the box and were beginning to crawl up his legs.
Being a bee expert, he was not panicked, but he was afraid of the possible danger to his fellow passengers, so he calmly suggested that the other passengers leave the car while he recaptured the bees, which would involve a bit of disrobing as well. He was a modest man, as well.
After the other passengers cleared the car, Viktor began taking his pants off. Just as he had pulled them free of his legs, an express train passed, and the sudden draft from the open window blew his pants back into the corridor where they wrapped around the head of a conductor. A startled onlooker pulled the emergency brake. As the train lurched to a halt, somehow a fire started.
When other train officials rushed to the tragic scene they discovered Viktor, minus his pants. They assumed he must be an escaped mental patient, so they bundled him off to the nearest mental hospital, where it took Viktor 3 days to convince the doctors he was sane.
Viktor certainly had a bad day, and I am sure that several times that day, and the days following, he repeated the question, “why me?”
I don’t suppose that anyone here can relate to Viktor’s problems? Do you ever have things happen to you that make you ask, “why me?” Of course you do. It is part of the human condition, so much so, that it has even become institutionalized.
III. Murphy’s Law
Edward A. Murphy was an engineer working on Air Force Project MX981 in 1949, designed to see how much sudden deceleration a person can stand in a crash.
One day, after finding that a transducer was wired wrong, he cursed the technician responsible and said, "If there is any way to do it wrong, he’ll find it."
The contractor’s project manager kept a list of "laws" and added this one, which he called
We know it better today as "if anything can go wrong, it will."
Murphy’s law has caught on so well because it does seem to explain the way life goes for most of us. Many derivations now exist:
The Murphy Philosophy
Smile . . . tomorrow will be worse.
Hartman’s Automotive Laws:
1. Nothing minor ever happens to a car on the weekend.
2. Nothing minor ever happens to a car on a trip.
3. Nothing minor ever happens to a car.
Cannon’s Cogent Comment:
The leak in the roof is never in the same location as the drip.
Murphy was an optimist.
Murphy’s laws are the secular attempt to answer the “why” question we so commonly ask. “Why am I having such a bad day today?”
“Because if anything can go wrong, it will."
But what kind of an answer is that? It’s essentially the same answer Judy and I got so good at when our children asked us why they needed to obey. BECAUSE.
In fact, I think the Spanish language has this approach down to an art. In Spanish, why is por que, and so is because. A little Mexican girl who doesn’t want to go to bed, says to her mother, “¿por que?” Her mother simply responds, “por que”
But let’s face it, these are only minor irritations in life. In a few days Viktor can go back to his bees, I’ll have the leak in my roof fixed and your car will have been repaired (maybe even twice, because the mechanic missed the real problem the first time.)
V. When Really Bad Things Happen
What happens when we confront the big problems of life? Why didn’t God keep my son from dying in that car crash? Why did God let my house burn down? Why was I born with the fingers I have? Why did God allow 9-11 to happen? The whys fall thick and fast when more serious tragedies strike.
Fortunately, we are not the first to have been overwhelmed by apparently senseless tragedy. The Bible is full of cases where people, and even whole nations, were visited with tragedy and the people immersed in these events asked why too. In most cases there was no satisfactory answer.