The end game is often unexpected by the spectator… and that’s what makes it so glorious.
I clearly remember the radio color commentators saying this would be Brian’s last game as a quarterback. Oh yes, his dad was a NFL Hall of Fame legend. But people just thought he didn’t quite have it in him. The 1998 Rose Bowl didn’t exactly start out with a proverbial “bang” either.
In fact, the U of M Wolverine football team was trailing Washington State for more than half the game. But then a subtle shift started to take place… Brian remained calm and confident under the pressure, while the other team seemed to slowly lose control. And the Wolverine’s end game, led by quarterback, Brian Griese, proved to win in the end (21-16).
Yet right now as we survey our surroundings it seems like righteousness is losing. Christ-followers are losing. God’s way for life appears to be losing. Immorality, violence, greed, and war seem to be winning all the airtime. The newsfeed nausea makes us sick to our stomachs — queasy or numb or maybe both.
Not too long ago a young pastor’s wife was shot in the head by a random intruder in Indianapolis. She was several months pregnant with their second child and their first child was just a year old. She was pronounced dead 24 hours later.
Since 1973, more than 59,467,212 (as of 5:30pm, 5/17/2017) unborn babies have been murdered in the womb just in the USA alone (1,455,168,000+ worldwide since 1980)! The numbers are staggering. By 5:35pm EST 1,860 children were aborted in the USA just today.
The ongoing refugee crisis in multiple countries and continents rages on and on.
More violence. Bloodshed. Corruption. Destruction. Hate. Death…
And we wonder aloud: Are you going to put a stop to this, God??! If so, how? And when?! Are You really going to let this pass? We wonder if the wickedness, injustice, and immorality is ever going to cease…
Habakkuk, a little-known prophet of God, who proclaimed God’s message had very similar questions. He lived during the reign of the wicked, idol-worshiping King Jehoiakim (609-597 BC; cf. 2 Kgs. 23:36-24:7; 2 Chron. 36:5-8). Immorality, injustice, violence, and idolatry were rampant across the nation.
When he shouted out, “How long, Lord?!” about the rampant chaos and suffering in Judah (the Southern Kingdom), God gave him a shocking answer: the wicked, cruel, idol-worshiping Babylonians would be God’s tool of judgment on the nation of Judah.
How could a nation so wicked as Babylon be sent to judge Judah, a people not anywhere near so bad as Babylon? Babylon was bad to the bone! That doesn’t make sense, God!
So Habakkuk asks “WHY?” (1:3, 12-13) and “Will they continue??” (1:17). Is God going to put a stop to this?
And we wonder with Habakkuk: what is God’s end game?
As we survey the state of the world, the decadence in our country, and the trials God’s people face do you wonder what He is really up to? Is God really both sovereign and just? Is God really faithful?
As one of my friends just asked me last week:
“Why is it that countries and people groups that appear to be quite anti-God seem to be the most blessed and wealthy (i.e. many Western countries like the USA, Australia, Great Britain, New Zealand, etc.), yet those with very committed, rapidly growing Christian communities are so poor, needy, hungry, and afflicted? I’m wondering along the same lines as the old, ‘Why does bad stuff happen to good people,’ but more specifically, ‘Why do the bad people seem to be blessed more than the good ones?'”
Yes. That’s a big, important question. So let’s not just gloss over it with a quick devotional thought and a poem. Frankly, that just won’t work.
So let’s turn to the brief book of Habakkuk to pick up the intriguing and profound dialogue between this questioning prophet and God. Here is where you and I are going to learn how to live by faith when everything looks like it’s falling apart… even when God doesn’t seem to make sense:
2 Ways to Dig Deep and 6 Truth-Points to Apply
1. Study Sheet: I’ve written a concise intro guide and overview of Habakkuk to enhance your study. Click HERE or hover and click right on the image below to access this free PDF document (viewable and printable):
2. Sermon Audio: The audio player buttons at the bottom of this post provide three messages from Habakkuk (chaps. 1,2,3), which I preached in November 2015 at North Park Baptist of Grand Rapids, MI. I pray you find these sermons filled with the healing balm of grace and truth.
6 Truth-Points to Apply
When God doesn’t seem to make sense…
- Bring your Fears to the only One who perfectly Hears. (1:1-4)
- Gain God’s vantage point by being guided by God’s Word. (1:5-11)
- When you don’t understand, don’t be afraid to raise your hand (ask all questions) (1:12-19)
- Live by faith, not by feelings. (2:2-5)
- Trust in God’s justice, not your judgment (2:6-19)
- Wait on the eternal, faithful One (1:12, 2:1; 3:16-19)
What questions might you have for God? Take a moment to write a few down…
- Why is it so difficult to make end’s meat today?
- Why are my kids not following Christ as adults?
- Why are the wicked and immoral prospering and the righteous and moral under attack?
- Why is the nation Israel under constant fire?
- Why are our brothers and sisters in Christ in India, Iran, Pakistan, China, and Egypt being brutally persecuted? Doesn’t God see this?
- Why have we gone through five miscarriages and infertility (a personal one for us)?
- Why are some people I love in serious marital strife and difficulty?
- Why are so many churches and pastors discarding the essentials of Christian orthodoxy?
Habakkuk had questions for God and so do we… we feel worn, torn, and beleaguered.
So we will wait. Faith waits.
“Waiting strengthens our patience and lengthens our perspective.” – Chuck Swindoll
Faith doesn’t ignore the questions, the nausea, or the numbness we feel. But faith waits for God to answer, for God to work, and for God to bring His plan to completion.
Bottomline: God’s people live by faith in Who God Is even when they don’t understand What God is doing.