I haven’t been sleeping well.
In fact, this morning I rose from bed long, long, long before my family as I just couldn’t be blanketed by my worrisome, self-centered thoughts any longer. Much of my thinking and too many of my prayers have revolved around my family and me in recent months.
I don’t like that.
My preference is for the bulk of my prayer life to be in communication with my God and centered on the needs of others.
Our family has had so many things to consider, so many hurdles to jump through, so many curveballs to field, so many tasks to accomplish, and so many decisions to make that I am near my wit’s end. This pandemic life has turned our family’s lives upside-down and inside-out.
And I don’t like it.
Is that okay to confess?
Is it okay to share that I’m weary of it all?
You know what else I don’t like very much?
I really, really, really don’t like the despicable ways people are treating one another. The harsh, unkind, degrading words I read in social media – especially on Facebook – shock me. The social injustice that bleeds in the city streets and upon the rural pathways of this world, upset me. The cries of the poor, the impoverished, the orphan, and the widow, distress me. Why the rich continue to become more and more powerful at the expense of the weak and penurious, angers me.
Is this okay to confess?
Is it okay to lament these cares?
This morning, I was desperately needful of an encouraging word from my God. I asked Him to direct me to something in Scripture to address my woeful thinking. The Lord took me to Habakkuk.
Who was Habakkuk?
He was a prophet from the late seventh century B.C. It is believed he was a priest of the tribe of Levi. In Hebrew, the root meaning of his name is “to embrace.” Like me, he was a man who was unhappy with his times. Habakkuk called out to the Lord for his people. He had two central questions. Habakkuk’s first question resonates as he voiced his frustration with the sins of man. Sin is perpetual stain upon us all – regardless of time or place.
Habakkuk asked with familiar dismay, “Why does violence rule where there should be justice?” Habakkuk 1:2-5
The Lord responded that Habakkuk’s world would be shaken by even more pain and hardship. The Chaldeans, ruthless, heartless invaders from the east, would soon enter and subdue Judah, his homeland.
Habakkuk wailed, “Lord, how can you use someone more sinful than we are to punish us?” Habakkuk 1:12-17
Here are the words of the Lord that resonated with me in my own struggles:
Then the Lord replied:
“Write down the revelation
and make it plain on tablets
so that a herald may run with it.
For the revelation awaits an appointed time;
it speaks of the end
and will not prove false.
Though it linger, wait for it;
it will certainly come
and will not delay.
New International Version, Habakkuk 2: 2-3
The Lord relayed to Habakkuk and to me that yes, things in this life are hard. Awful, in fact. Yet, He is not indifferent to our questions, our struggles, our anger, our worries and our woes. The Lord is at work. His plans and purposes are not determined, nor are they influenced by our impulsive demands, emotionally-charged expectations, or blind assumptions. His moral judgment will come. More importantly, Jesus will come; and He will speak into these difficult matters with authority and power – once and for all.
The revelation that the Lord gave Habakkuk was not for him alone. The Lord asked him to make the Lord’s message plain – simple and clear – so that we all would be encouraged, edified, and strengthened in our hope and our faith in God. Habakkuk obeyed. Deep within, his own soul received consolation and strength. Habakkuk composed words of hope to speak to ages beyond his own. This kind of patience carves a deep, resolute hope in the midst of a long wait.
AW Tozer wrote:
Patience is not indifference; patience conveys the idea of an immensely strong rock withstanding all onslaught. The vision of God is the source of patience, because it imparts moral inspiration.
The author of Hebrews agrees:
So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded.
You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. For,
“In just a little while,
he who is coming will come
and will not delay.”
And, “But my righteous one will live by faith.
And I take no pleasure
in the one who shrinks back.”
But we do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved.
New International Version, Hebrews 10: 35b-39
We place our trust in the promises of Jesus Christ. Though the waiting is long – how much more can we take of the evils, the injustices, and the cruelties of this world? We do not have to be impatient. God’s answer shall come. It will not tarry longer that God’s own, prescribed time and purpose. We are to take heart – in terms of eternity – the time is not distant or far away.
So, this soul-centering perspective begs these questions:
Do I live by faith?
Am I persevering to the end, to the one day when I will be exalted into the glory of Jesus Christ?
Will I trust my God, or will I distrust and despise my God’s all-sufficiency?
Will I turn away from my God because I refuse to wait for His Kingdom to come because I am more concerned about my present, temporal worries and fears?
This plain and good word from Habakkuk has caused me to redirect my thoughts and ponderings about my life and our family’s future.
Honestly, life is hard.
There is no guarantee that this life is not going to get harder. Lawlessness abounds. Spiritual blindness and unbelief are rampant. Cruel, unrelenting injustice goes unchecked. Violence rages. The poor and vulnerable continue to be inflicted with the most harm. It’s wrong. It’s all so very wrong.
Yet, the Lord sees.
He shall come and He shall speak into this chaos.
His Kingdom shall be realized one day – once and for all.
In the meantime, though, He is asking you and me to be His trusting remnant. Even in a wilderness time, where we may not be hearing Him as plainly and as clearly as Habakkuk did. We can still embrace Habakkuk’s exhortation to remain patient and steadfast. The Lord, Himself, will help us endure and trust that He will settle his account with the sins of this world.
Matthew Henry offers this word of confidence:
The just shall live by faith in the promises of God even as the full performance of them is deferred. Only those made just by faith shall live. We shall be happy here and forever.
And so, as I woke with thoughts of fear, discouragement and angst this early morning. Now, I find myself looking beyond myself and to the hope of Christ.
I choose to trust in the all-sufficiency of my God for today and the days to come – no matter how uncertain our life continues to be. I don’t know if I will sleep any better tonight. And I may still not like how things are going in this world. However, I can choose to look beyond our circumstances and look to my God for what He is working to reveal through my circumstances. I can choose to be a person of hope.
How do you receive this word – do you have questions for God as Habakkuk did? As I do?
I Can’t Sleep image retrieved from Google Search