Pastor Mickey has served for many years as a chaplain for police and fire departments. He was deployed to Ground Zero in 2001 to coordinate the family assistance center after the 9/11 attack, has comforted people in all kinds of accidents and disasters, and has sat with people in the midst of their suffering in losing a loved one. He has also experienced much loss and sorrow in his own life before coming to know the Lord. Studying God’s Word and praying with others through tragedy has provided a lot of understanding of the depth of God’s love when we are in crisis. He has just finished a new book* entitled GODISNOWHERE. Depending on how you read this title, some see “God is nowhere” but some see “God is now here!”
Today’s Scripture is from the book of Habakkuk the prophet, whose name means, “to cling” - a powerful image of clinging to God in the midst of our own suffering.
1. Frustration - Habakkuk 1:1-6
The burden which the prophet Habakkuk saw. O Lord, how long shall I cry, And You will not hear? Even cry out to You, “Violence!” And You will not save. Why do You show me iniquity, And cause me to see trouble? For plundering and violence are before me; There is strife, and contention arises. Therefore the law is powerless, And justice never goes forth. Habakkuk 1:1-4a
In the burdensome visions this prophet has for his nation’s circumstances, he is crying out to God. In Hebrew, his “cry” is a screaming to God, which gives us a sense of how raw and real the prophet’s emotions are.
It is so important to remember that God is not the cause of the pain or evil. He is always redeeming.
Have you felt this type of burden or anguish before, just crying out to the Lord in suffering? Maybe you feel this way for our nation, for the violence we see around us, or for other events that are causing divison and fear. In these times, it is natural for us to wonder, God, how can this be? If You are all-powerful and all-knowing, then where are You?
Things happen in our world that don’t make sense to us. Chaos, destruction, corruption, and evil can bring us despair. But it is so important to remember that God is not the cause of the pain or evil. He is always redeeming.
2. Faith - Habakkuk 2:1-4,20
I will stand my watch And set myself on the rampart, And watch to see what He will say to me, And what I will answer when I am corrected. Habakkuk 2:1
Our vision at the Rock is to bring Pervasive Hope to every person. You are a part of God’s work to bring hope to humanity. His desire is for you to be transformed more and more into the likeness of Jesus.
Pastor Mickey shared that when each of his three daughters turned 16, he took her on a special date and had a conversation about the future. He talked to them about marriage and the type of man to look for in a husband. He told each of them how special she was to God, gave her a promise ring, and to keep herself for her husband. Recently Mickey also spoke at the church’s father-daughter dance, where he asked all the dads to get down on one knee, hold their daughters’ hands, and look into their eyes, speaking virtue into their lives and love into their hearts. The moment was very special, filled with tears, appreciation, and love.
How much we all long to hear others’ words of virtue and love! When your children come down for breakfast in the morning, are you caught up saying, “Make your bed! Get dressed! Why haven’t you cleaned up your room?” When your spouse comes home at the end of the day, are you stuck saying, “You forgot to fill up the car with gas!” or “Why didn’t you take the trash out this morning?” We can be so quick to judge, complain, and criticize because we are not looking at the person God sees. We are saying, “God is nowhere in your life,” instead of “God is now here in your life,” to honor the glory and beauty of God and the work He is doing. We should not be the enemy’s voice of despair and discouragement to the people we love, but rather the voice of hope, love, and virtue. Imagine instead if your loved ones could hear, “You’re so special. I just love you. Today’s going to be a special day because God is with you. You are a generous person.” What if we committed to speaking virtue into the lives of those we care about?
When the disciples witnessed Jesus’ transfiguration on the mountain and God spoke over Him, the manifest of glory was so powerful, bright, and overwhelming that they fell to their faces in worship. Do you know that if you are a Christ-follower, then God sees you this way right now? God not only knows the future, He sees the future. For this, He works to conform us to this glorious image because He sees the glory of His Son covering your life.
In The Weight of Glory, C. S. Lewis writes:
It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare. All day long we are, in some degree, helping each other to one or other of these destinations. It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilities, it is with the awe and the circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics. There are no ordinary people.
Jesus says in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” He is not simply saying that God loves you, but that He so loves you that He gave His Son that you could be saved. It is as if God is on His knee, looking into your eyes, saying, “I love you! Will you marry me? You are beautiful! Come and live with me and walk with me forever!” No matter our circumstances, God still loves us and He is still on the throne (Psalm 11) and has a plan for us.
“But the Lord is in His holy temple. Let all the earth keep silence before Him.” Habakkuk 2:20
God doesn’t give us explanations.
Instead He gives us His promises.
3. Fruitfulness - Habakkuk 3:17-19
“Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God /with us.” Matthew 1:23
“...and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen. Matthew 28:20b
We are never left alone to deal with whatever trials and difficulties come our way; God is with us. We can look to Him, walk with Him, and trust Him in every circumstance.
Though the fig tree may not blossom, Nor fruit be on the vines; Though the labor of the olive may fail, And the fields yield no food; Though the flock may be cut off from the fold, And there be no herd in the stalls—Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation. Habakkuk 3:17-18
Rejoice = leap for joy
Joy = to whirl about (Even if I don’t understand it all, I will dance because God is with me and He is able)
If you are deeply hurting today, if you need a miracle, if you feel isolated, abused or abandoned, or if you’ve built up walls against God, today is the day to draw near. Pray and surrender to the God who is kneeling before you in love and wants to give you hope and restoration.
Scriptures of Reference:
2 Corinthians 3:16-18; Philippians 3:20-21; Romans 8:17; Ephesians 1:3; Colossians 2:10; Matthew 17:5-6; Romans 8:31-32, 37-39
*All of the proceeds of Pastor Mickey’s new book go to a chaplain fund to help people in crisis.