Trusting God’s Goodness (Habakkuk) – Lesson 8

JFL Curtis Hall2Locked away in a cold, dank prison, he was anything but a typical prisoner. Possessing no rap sheet delineating a life of crime, he was none the less bound and imprisoned with no bail available. His crime? Speaking truth to power. He dared to tell the truth when it would have been safer to keep silent. Not only to the common man, but to the leaders in society, he boldly called for justice, goodness and right living.

He was a very religious man with deep convictions. His entire life had been devoted to ministry and to find himself imprisoned was not only a blow to himself, but those who followed him as well. It made no sense. How could a man who so obviously lived for God be allowed by God to suffer in this way?

This is the question that many of us have asked. Some have asked this question in the quietness of the night, when all of the guest have gone, the food has been put away and on the counter is the obituary that marks the sad occasion. Why God, why?

Others have asked this question as they wrestle with the pain of deadly disease that has invaded their body. They’ve lived for God, worked for God, sacrificed for God, and yet here they are feeling so alone. Why God, why?

Still others have looked out over the land and see evil triumphing and crime increasing. Acts of violence that are too despicable to even speak are perpetrated by men with no repercussions. The fortunes of the godless increase at the expense of the common man. Poverty and hunger sweep across the land while lavish living is praised as a virtue. Why God, why?

In his own way Habakkuk is asking the same questions. We are privileged to look into the private conversation between a man and his God. Habakkuk is not working on a sermon for the temple. He is not even trying to fine-tune the details of an important speech to be delivered to the people. This is just between him and God. This is Habakkuk’s “why” moment.

“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.

For the wicked surround the righteous; therefore perverse judgment proceeds.” Habakkuk 1:1-4 NKJV

 

If we live long enough, we will all have our “why” moments. Those times in life when nothing is making sense. All that we think we know about God and His ways is put to the test. Our faith that we love to sing about and talk about, preach about and read about, suddenly is revealed as a reality or a theory.

 

In chains, our forgotten prisoner strains to drown out the suggestions of doubt that are logical if nothing else. He needs an answer (as we all do) to his “why” experience. He sends two of his most trusted friends to get an answer. The exchange is recorded in Luke 7, “When the men had come to Him, they said, “John the Baptist has sent us to You, saying, ‘Are You the Coming One, or do we look for another?’”

Are You who You say you are? Has my faith been in vain? Have my beliefs been ill-founded?

 

Without saying a word or giving a typical answer Jesus continues to do what He always did: “And that very hour He cured many of infirmities, afflictions, and evil spirits; and to many blind He gave sight. Jesus answered and said to them, “Go and tell John the things you have seen and heard: that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the poor have the gospel preached to them. And blessed is he who is not offended because of Me.” Luke 7:21-23 NKJV (hold on John!)

 

Habakkuk, like John, is given an answer that speaks to where he is in life. He accepts that answer and finds the faith to live by. “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. The Lord God is my strength; He will make my feet like deer’s feet, and He will make me walk on my high hills.” Habakkuk 3:17-19 NKJV

 

Although their circumstances are different (as are ours) the message was the same: God is alive and in control. Have faith and hold on.

 

Here are a few Hit the Mark questions for this week’s lesson discussion:

What does the word “trust” mean to you?

Isn’t it true that a real believer never loses their faith in God?

Why do you answer yes or no?

Isn’t it true that most suffering is as a direct result of sin?

Why do you answer yes or no?

Isn’t it true that personal calamity to a believer is always just a test?

Why do you answer yes or no?

In light of your answers above, please explain Psalms 34:7 “The angel of the Lord encamps all around those who fear Him, And delivers them.”

We close this week with powerful yet comforting words for the “why” moments in life: “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.”  John 14:1-3 

Until next week, let’s all continue to Hit the Mark in Sabbath School!

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