By Stan Rodda: Just like everyone else, disciple makers experience seasons of waiting in life. Times when it seems that God is distant. Maybe He isn’t hearing your prayers or He has abandoned you for some reason. We can convince ourselves of nearly anything during this times of waiting.
We need these seasons of waiting from God because it is one of the key ways that He develops and prepares us for the future. And one of the best places to learn about these times in faith is the prophet, Habakkuk.
Philosopher, Winnie the Pooh, said,
Rivers know this: there is no hurry. We shall get there some day. -A.A. Milne
This is the first in a 4-part series on learning to wait on God during times of suffering and silence. If you are a disciple maker in a season of waiting, I hope this series will encourage you. In this first part, we must learn from Habakkuk’s groan.
Habakkuk is confronted with a burden from God. The prophet responds to God by groaning a bit about the way things are going in life. He groans to God, “Why aren’t you doing anything about the injustice and evil? I have been telling you all about it and you’re totally silent.” (Habakkuk 1:2-4)
The nation around Habakkuk had fallen into complete rebellion. While this book was written 2600 years ago, it could have been written at the end of 2020. So much chaos, sin, injustice, pain, suffering and evil. God, where are you? Why won’t you answer me?
God, I’m doing my best to make disciples. I’m trying to reach people. Why is it that You seem to have gone silent? Don’t You care about what’s going on in the world? Don’t you want people to come to You? Where are you?
Permission Given to Ask Questions
When I was growing up, it was never okay to question God. If you were thinking about questioning God that meant you had a faith problem. That your relationship with God wasn’t good enough. No one ever told me that babies aren’t born with Paul-like relationships with Jesus. No, we have to work at it. Developing faith and making disciples comes with questions.
I believe that when God responds to Habakkuk’s questions, He is in essence saying, “I welcome your questions. I’m big enough for them. Let’s develop your faith and I’ll show you a little more of what I’m up to.”
Not all questions are created equal. Don’t pull a Job assuming you know more than God. By the time God finally responds in chapter 38 of Job, He responds out of a whirlwind. God storms His responses back at Job. Be careful Job. You don’t know nearly as much as you think you do. Be careful Stan. You aren’t nearly as clever or wise as you think you are. Be careful disciple maker. You don’t know as much as you think. Ask your questions, but ask with humility.
God’s Promise to Habakkuk
Habakkuk 1:5 God responds and tells Habakkuk that He is doing amazing things. Even if Habakkuk could see clearly he wouldn’t believe it. God is at work beyond all we can ask or imagine, doing amazing things that we wouldn’t believe even if He told us. But as God is at work, it’s not all rainbows and unicorns. It’s going to come with the price of suffering.
God promises that the Chaldeans are coming and they are going to punish Israel. They will sift the people and it will not be pleasant. I’m sure Habakkuk had to have a moment of celebration that God was at work only to backtrack not wanting God to work through the Babylonians.
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God’s Way Are Not Our Ways
When the disciple making conversations have run dry. When disciples walk away from us looking for a simpler life. When we feel we are completely on our own and God doesn’t seem to be responding to the mess that is life; God’s ways are not our way.
Think Noah. God says, I’m going to purify the world and rid it of evil. Starting over with you, Noah. Awesome, sounds great. What’s next? Oh, I need you to build an ark. What’s an ark. It’s a huge boat that will float on water. That much water? Yeah, it’s going to rain. What’s rain?
God’s ways are not our ways.
Think John the Baptist. Jesus said, “There is no one greater than John.” What did that mean for him? It meant imprisonment and beheading. All because he supported God’s definition of marriage.
God’s ways are not our ways.
When God says, “I’m doing amazing things in your day. You’re not going to believe this.” Always remember that some of God’s greatest work comes through suffering. In fact, God’s greatest work in history happened through a cross. We all have heavy hearts because of what is happening in our nation. God is still doing amazing things. Even if He has to use Babylon to do it.
What To Do In The Waiting
The answer to seasons of waiting can be found in Habakkuk’s name. It means, “to wrestle, embrace.” We go back and forth with God, drawing near to Him, asking questions.
Wrestle. Embrace. Wrestle. Embrace.
Embrace God’s Promises
The God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself restore, establish, strengthen, and support you after you have suffered a little while.
[1 Peter 5:10 CSB]
Even when things are difficult, draw near to God. Stay connected in your abiding time with Christ. Don’t let go of your relationship with God. Draw near. Embrace Him and His promises. That even though you may be going through a season of suffering, He Himself will restore you.
The Lord is the One who goes before us (Deut 31:8). He turns to me and hears my cries (Ps 40:1). Gives us days of rejoicing that match the days we wept (Ps 90:15). Embraces God’s promises to restore you, to bring you through for His glory. Embrace the promise of God that He is at work.
Embrace God’s People
Gallup and the CDC both say mental health is an absolute crisis. Since the summer of 2020, 1 in 4 young people have considered suicide. Suicide rates are soaring. People considering it is higher than ever. And yet I the midst of that tragedy, one group stands out as having improved mental health; those who regularly attended church through the pandemic.
Something supernatural, mystical happens, when God’s people gather. Whether you are gathering at a modern looking church, a traditional church or you meet in a church in your living room, the gathering of God’s people is an essential for us.
God is doing something amazing in our generation. But it seems He is going to do it through Babylon. As you go through your season of waiting, remember to embrace God’s promises and His people.
What promises of God do you hold onto the most in times of suffering and waiting?
Source: Someday | Part 1