Smile! Things could be worse!
by Andy Cokayne 1 July 2021
“Smile things could be worse!” So I did smile, and behold things did get worse. No doubt you have come across this witticism before. Reading Habakkuk he could easily have been the author. Habakkuk prophesied when the threat of Babylonian invasion was looming large, he was an honest guy and in verse 2 of his first chapter he asks the question ‘How long, O Lord, must I cry for help, and you do not listen?’ Habakkuk is complaining to God “Why O Lord do you appear so silent when things seem so awful?” We may feel the same. God you know how I feel, why are you so silent, why do you feel so far away? Yet when God does reply he tells Habakkuk that he is bringing on Israel a mighty army that will destroy them, in other words things will get worse. The silence of God has long been a test for Christians. Yet through it all Habakkuk hung on in faith.
We move on to chapter 3, which almost reads like a Psalm. In fact at the end of the chapter it gives directions on the music. Habakkuk reminds himself and his hearers of what God has done. He encourages his own and his hearers faith in God, who is committed to them. He even rejoices in God no matter how bad things get, ‘Even though there is no Figs; no Grapes; no Olives; no Sheep in the pen, yet will I rejoice in the Lord.’ (Hab 3 v 17-18). How can he do that? Answer. ‘The Sovereign Lord is my strength.’ Perhaps at the start Habakkuk has relied on himself, his own strength of character, his own resources, his own self reliance, and been let down. Now he knows that when he relies on God for his strength, God will not fail him.
We can learn so much from Habakkuk about prayer. He begins with honesty, he puts forward his complaint, “God why are you not listening to me?” By chapter 3 he has learned to hear Gods replies and has a new perspective on Gods ways. His Psalm of praise recounts what God has already done, and he knows that his God does not change. On occasions we need to remind ourselves of what God has already done for us, where he has led us in our life’s journey so far. We may feel challenged to write down, our life’s journey so far, see what God has led us through, and be encouraged. Our Father God is committed to us. I pray that we can say with Habakkuk that no matter how bad things get for us, we can rejoice in the Lord, because he is our strength.
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