Adrian Rogers, in a sermon, told of an elderly widow who lived in an old apartment. She loved the Lord. Her landlord was not a Christian and even ridiculed the widow for being a narrow-minded religious fanatic. On one occasion, she ran out of groceries and prayed for God to supply her need. The landlord could hear her praying through the paper-thin apartment walls. He decided to play a trick on her. While she was out the landlord bought a large amount of groceries, used the passkey, and placed them in her room. When she returned, she began to praise the Lord. She then marched over to the landlord’s room and bragged on the Lord for His answering her prayer. The landlord rebuked her. He said, “God didn’t answer your prayer, I bought those groceries and here is the receipt.” The godly widow responded, “No! You are wrong. God did answer my prayer, even if He did have to use the devil!” God is not limited in how He accomplishes His will in our lives. Our Creator is creative.
Part of Habakkuk’s problem was God’s use of the wicked Babylonians to chastise God’s people.
There is an important progression in Habakkuk’s life from chapter one to chapter three: a growth in the grace and knowledge of Christ Jesus.
The Book of Habakkuk opens with the prophet sparring with God. Habakkuk is verbally battling with his Creator. Questioning Him! Complaining to Him! Habakkuk, however, finds out that his arms are too short to box with God.
In Habakkuk One, Habakkuk is worrying and focusing on his problem. In Habakkuk Two, Habakkuk is waiting and trusting In his God. He drops his weary too short arms. In Habakkuk Three, Habakkuk is worshiping and focusing on his God. He takes off the gloves and falls to the mate in surrender. The circumstances in Habakkuk’s life did not change. As a matter of fact, the circumstance got worse. What changed was Habakkuk’s attitude.
Where are you this today? Worrying, focusing on your problem, blaming God, waiting and trusting on God to answering your prayer, or worshiping God.
In Habakkuk 3:16-19, Habakkuk shows us
1. What To Do When We Are Personally Devastated? (3:16b)
The physical and personal devastation is seen in 3:16.
When Habakkuk heard in 1:5-11, that God was raising up the wicked nation of Babylon to chastise His sinning people, Habakkuk was visibly shaken: from the inside/out, from his bones to his belly, and from his head to his toes. He trembled all over.
Charles Haddon Spurgeon was London’s most loved and hated preacher. When Metropolitan Tabernacle was being enlarged, he and his congregation met in the Crystal Palace. The main floor was full as well as the wrap around balcony. During the first sermon, someone, many think an enemy of Spurgeon’s shouted, “Fire” in the wooden building. A stampede pursued and several people killed. As Spurgeon watched the panic, he fainted in the pulpit and sank into depression for several weeks.
Perhaps you have experienced this devastation. At the doctor’s office you learn you have a terminal sickness. Your spouse tells you he/she wants out of this marriage. You get an email at work informing you that a layoff will occur shortly. You have huge mortgage payments. One of your children has abandoned the faith. Someone you love dearly is in the ICU on life support and the doctor says that you have to make a decision. This week two church members have asked me to pray for two separate and unrelated car accidents where teenagers were killed.
The solution is to rest on God’s promises (3:16b).
God was fulfilling His Covenant promises in allowing a wicked nation to punish His people, Israel (Deuteronomy 28:25). God also promised His people in Deuteronomy 30:1-2, that He would regather them if they repented. Habakkuk is resting on God’s promises.
The word “rest” in 3:16 is the word used to describe what God did when He finished His six days of creation. On the seventh day (Exodus 20:11) God rested. This does not mean that God was exhausted and physically took a 15-minute break. It means God ceased His creation activity. God did not stop all of His activity; He just stopped His creation activity. He ceased one activity. God still works in sustaining His creation now (John 5:17).
Habakkuk also ceased an activity. He ceased worrying and focusing on his problem. His new activity was faith in God’s promises and worship of the God who gave the promises. Romans 8:28 is one of those promises.
R. A. Torrey called Romans 8:28 “a soft pillow for a tried heart.” In your deepest, most devastating trial, you can rest on promises like Romans 8:28: “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”
John R. Rice in his book on prayer recorded someone’s prayer: “Dear God, I hate bacon powder. Dear God, I hate floor. Dear God, I hate shortening. But Dear Jesus, you put them all together and stir them up and put them in the oven and cook it and I put some butter between it, and I sure love hot, homemade biscuits.” That is the promise of Romans 8:28. This verse does not promise that all things are good. But that all things work together for good for them who love God. All circumstances are not good. The cancer report is not good. The news of the spouse who wants out of the marriage is not good. The layoff is not good. The rebellious child is not good. The loved one in ICU is not good. The killing of teenagers in car accidents is not good. But the God who created and runs the universe can bring good out of the bad.
In my next post, Habakkuk will shows us what to do when our circumstances are devastating.