Thursday, April 12, 2012
Call and Answer
I know a LOT of people. Therefore, I'm privy to a LOT of personal needs and tragedies, and sometimes the magnitude of all that suffering overwhelms me. I feel like if I hear one more sad story, one more financial meltdown or shattered dream or murder or man selfishly destroying his family, I'll have to go live in a cave for a while. I can't handle witnessing so much adversity. I wonder how I can keep defending the personal love and deliverance of God without visible proof to point people toward. I feel survivor's guilt that God has been so merciful to me, but not to others in similar situations. I also struggle to remember that it's not my individual job to help every single hurting person. In most cases I can only pray for them, and while I know logically that prayer is important, it doesn't feel like doing much.
I've heard some upsetting reports this week, so my thoughts were running along these lines when I went to church last night. We usually have small-group meetings on Wednesdays, but last night author and apologist John Blanchard spoke. His talk focused on the book of Habakkuk, and when he had us turn to the first text, I was stunned. Because there was the topic of my own thoughts of, seriously, minutes before:
1:2 O Lord, how long shall I cry for help, and you will not hear?
Or cry to you “Violence!” and you will not save?
3 Why do you make me see iniquity, and why do you idly look at wrong?
Destruction and violence are before me; strife and contention arise.
4 So the law is paralyzed, and justice never goes forth.
For the wicked surround the righteous; so justice goes forth perverted.
Throughout the book, as Habakkuk accuses God of not taking action to defend His people, God reminds him that He's still in control and is working even now. It's similar to the book of Job in that, in the end, the writer is assured of God's sovereignty and the fact that He's always on the move, often in unexpected ways - even if it takes a long time and circumstances don't improve. So Habakkuk goes from accusing God, to this:
3:17 Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines,
the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food,
the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls,
18 yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation.
19 God, the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like the deer's; he makes me tread on my high places.
We're all waiting for our own personal rescue or happy ending, and some of us are not going to get it. I don't know why God chooses to work that way, but He does. All we can do is rest in the knowledge that He is good and never does anything without a purpose. I pray that I, and others in much tougher positions, can take joy and strength in that more and more. Even in the absence of fig blossoms.
It was all very powerful in the speaker's words (so if it's not in mine, I apologize). Habakkuk. Who knew?