Hope – responding to trials & suffering

As we look at the current state of our world…where war, terrorism, conflicting political philosophies, seismic cultural shifts and violent crime seem nearly overwhelming….what are we to do?

Do we devise a plan to respond, do we hunker down, do we fret and climb back in bed, fight back with resolve, do we escape to safety, do we share our point-of-view on FaceBook?

Who or what do we look to for help or comfort?

Governors, Presidents, priests, friends, a quiet life in the country, a comfortable upper scale life?

There is no doubt it seems that we are surrounded by more and more fear, suffering, evil and turmoil in each day’s world events.  Some of us may be equipped and, in fact, called to respond to these challenges politically or perhaps through the arts, philanthropy or some other means.  We all have a life purpose to live out.

But how do we first react upon hearing of all these catastrophies in the world?

I encourage you to respond as the biblical Old Testament prophet Habakkuk did.

He sensed doom coming to his own people from a nearby enemy.  He was sure death was on its way.   Can you relate?

(Chapter 3, vs. 16) I heard and my heart pounded,

my lips quivered at the sound;

decay crept into my bones,

and my legs trembled.

Yet I will wait patiently for the day of calamity

to come on the nation invading us.

When the prophet says he will “wait patiently for the day of calamity”, he is referring to a confident state of heart based on his trust in God.  The word “wait patiently” means rest or repose…or to be tranquil (as opposed to be freaking out scared).  There are many days when I am not connected to God and I certainly don’t feel tranquil in the midst of harm or evil.

Habakkuk then makes a stunning statement in the midst of what is happening…..

(vs. 17) Though the fig tree does not bud

and there are no grapes 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,

(vs. 18) yet I will rejoice in the Lord,

I will be joyful in God my Savior. (bold added)

Then, Habakkuk focuses on the truth and on the source of provision and hope.  He does not focus on the upcoming elections, sharing the news on Facebook, overthrowing any evil rulers or annihilating people.   Here’s where his strength comes from.

(vs. 19) The Sovereign Lord is my strength;

he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,

he enables me to tread on the heights.

I am not suggesting a pacifist or passive approach to responding to the world’s ills.  I know there is a time for war, resolve, strength and ridding the world of evil.  But, I want to be sure I first have my eyes on Him, no matter how bleak things seem.

In verse 18 the word “rejoice” doesn’t mean to just “be happy”.  It means to be jubilant and and the word implies that “we jump for joy”.  My friends, that is real joy….when you jump in the air.  Just like you do when your favorite team scores in overtime.  You jump for joy!!!

In the same verse the word “joy” means to “be excited to levity”.

Our God is trustworthy, soveriegn and mighty.  We can trust Him alone and actually rejoice and be joyful “in His strength and provision” when the world around us looks dark and dim.

Go today and remember to trust in the Lord, serve the poor and needy, and rejoice in His strength when your world looks overwhelming.

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