No Matter What

S (Scripture) – Habakkuk 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 stallsyet I will triumph in the LORDI 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.”

O (Observation) – Habakkuk was just given a vision from God about what was about to take place in his nation.  Everything was about to fall apart in a catastrophic way.  There were going to be no crops, no herds, and an army that was about to put the nation under siege for two years, and literally starve them to death.  No matter what we have been through in our lives, having to go through two years of watching an entire nation and our families around us literally starve to death (or, in some cases lead to cannibalism) and the survivors being taken captive by a ferocious foreign nation would be horrific in comparison.  Habakkuk saw that this is what his precious nation of Judah was going to come to, and he was heartbroken.  Yet, he declares this statement that he will triumph in his God; that he will rejoice in Him, and that He is his strength.  He knew that the Lord was in control of the situation, and that no matter what ultimately happened on earth, that God would keep His promises to him and his nation.

A (Application) – Whatever it is that we are going through right now, we must always remember that our victory, hope, joy, and wisdom is found in the Lord.  The world around us, our family, professional advice, etc. does not have the last word over our situation.  We should place our sights on Jesus, and allow Him to change our perspective of whatever it is that we are going through.  It’s easy to get bogged down in the minutia of our day-to-day lives without stepping back to see how God may be moving.  God loves us, can be trusted, and will see us through our circumstances one moment at a time.  We must take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5) instead of searching high and low for answers from the world.  It’s been said by some that “God will never give you more than you can handle.”  That is a lie.  God often gives us more than we could handle in our own strength.  If we could always handle anything on our own, apart from God, why would we need Him?  He intentionally gives us more than we can handle so that we increase our faith and dependence on Him to help us through it.  The way that happens is by us declaring that no matter what is going on around us, we are trusting Him.  He will direct our steps and empower us with the Holy Spirit to get through anything.  The often quoted verse is “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Philippians 4:13),” rather than “I can do all things because God would never give me anything I couldn’t handle on my own.”

P (Prayer) – Heavenly Father, You are faithful and can be trusted.  Despite whatever our issues are in this moment, You are still God.  You are far greater than anything we are going through, and help us to change our perspective to Yours – one that is eternal and focused on Your kingdom agenda versus us caught up in the fleeting thoughts to which we are tempted to cling.

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His Timing is Perfect

S (Scripture) – Habakkuk 2:2-3 “Then the LORD answered me and said, ‘Record the vision and inscribe it on tablets, that the one who reads it may run.  For the vision is yet for the appointed time; It hastens toward the goal and it will not fail.  Though it tarries, wait for it; For it will certainly come, it will not delay.'” NASB

“Write my answer plainly on tablets,
    so that a runner can carry the correct message to others.
  This vision is for a future time.
    It describes the end, and it will be fulfilled.
If it seems slow in coming, wait patiently,
    for it will surely take place.
    It will not be delayed. NLT

O (Observation) – Habakkuk was desperately crying out to God for His intervention.  He was looking all around him and wondering why God wasn’t moving in the situation…at least it looked as though He wasn’t.  God’s response to Habakkuk starts with this simple and often overlooked reassuring verse – God is saying, “Don’t worry about My timing.  My timing is perfect.  Just because you don’t see anything moving on the surface doesn’t mean there aren’t pieces falling into place as you are praying to Me.  I always keep My promises.”

A (Application) – God has promised us many things in His word, and we can trust Him.  As we look around our own lives and wonder why something we have been praying for hasn’t yet come to fruition, or as we look around our world and wonder when Jesus is going to come back and make everything right, we can rest assured that God is faithful.  He may seem slow in coming, but we must wait patiently.  Psalm 46:10 in the NLT says, “Be still, and know that I am God!  I will be honored by every nation.  I will be honored throughout the world.”  The NASB translates “Be still” as “Cease striving,” and the HCSB as “Stop your fighting…”  Instead of continuing to strive and fight in our own strength to fix the outside of what is going on around us, we must be still and know that our God is able to transform the inside of what is going on around us…something that we could never do on our own.  May we fall to our knees in prayer, and know that prayer is the only way to change everything.  Our God is never asleep – He is constantly working to move His kingdom forward as His children pray and continue to trust Him.

P (Prayer) – Lord, You are almighty, powerful, and able to do all that You say You can do.  I confess that there are things I have been praying for for a long time that have seemed to have gone left unanswered.  The answer may very well be “No,” but the answer may also be “Not yet.”  I will continue to intercede, and trust that You are moving heaven and earth under the surface to change the situation, and though I don’t see anything happening from my perspective, I am reminded that You do most of Your work in changing hearts.

Limited Perspective

S (Scripture) – Habakkuk 1:1-5 “The oracle which Habakkuk the prophet saw.  How long, O Lord, will I call for help, and You will not hear?  I cry out to You,’Violence!’ yet You do not save.  Why do You make me see iniquity, and cause me to look on wickedness?  Yes, destruction and violence are before me; strife exists and contention arises.  Therefore the law is ignored and justice is never upheld.  For the wicked surround the righteous; therefore justice comes out perverted.  ‘Look among the nations!  Observe!  Be astonished!  Wonder!  Because I am doing something in your days – You would not believe if you were told.'”

O (Observation) – Our perspective is so limited.  We look around us and see all of the evil in the world, the brokenness, pain, suffering, and injustice…then we cry out to God and wonder why He isn’t doing what we think He should be doing.  Habakkuk was crying out to God, wondering this exact thought.  He was beating down the doors of heaven with prayer, and didn’t see God moving in response.  The Lord answers the prophet by telling him that indeed He was up to something, and that Habakkuk wouldn’t believe it even if He told him.

A (Application) – One of the biggest lies we may be tempted to believe is that God is not real, because if He were, then there would be no suffering in the world.  God gave mankind freewill and the ability to choose our behavior.  Some people choose to act in horrific ways that are contrary to what is right.  We must continue to pray even if we don’t see the results (judgement and restoration) that we desire; we never know what God is up to.  When it may seem that everything is falling apart, it may just be that He is orchestrating the pieces to fall into place.  We must continue to trust the heart of God when we don’t experience His hand moving in our lives.  Our faith must not be shattered by what we endure in this world when we don’t see and comprehend everything that He is up to – He knows the end from the beginning, and His perspective is very different than ours.  May He lead us by the hand each step of the journey, no matter how difficult.

P (Prayer) – Heavenly Father, You know everything.  You are on Your throne.  Nothing has ever come as a surprise to You.  As we are jostled around by our emotions as we go throughout our day, may we lean into You more closely and claim the promise made by Isaiah that You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in You; all whose thoughts are fixed on You (Isaiah 26:3)!