Habakkuk 3:1-2; 16-19 (ESV)
A prayer of Habakkuk the prophet, according to Shigionoth.
O LORD, I have heard the report of you,
and your work, O LORD, do I fear.
In the midst of the years revive it;
in the midst of the years make it known;
in wrath remember mercy.
I hear, and my body trembles;
my lips quiver at the sound;
rottenness enters into my bones;
my legs tremble beneath me.
Yet I will quietly wait for the day of trouble
to come upon people who invade us.
Though the fig tree should not blossom,
nor fruit be on the vines,
the produce of the olive fail
and the fields yield no food,
the flock be cut off from the fold
and there be no herd in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the LORD;
I will take joy in the God of my salvation.
GOD, the Lord, is my strength;
he makes my feet like the deer's;
he makes me tread on my high places.
To the choirmaster: with stringed instruments.
In a holiday time where family, faith, and remembrance surround, there is a question that is asked over and over again, “What will this Christmas be like?”
Whether the answer is difficult or gleeful, this question is dominated by our worldview. As Christmas becomes more and more secularized with a heightened concern about presents, lights, or even just the presentation of “merriness,” the reason for the season is lost in a whisper. The seasons of life carry many joys and trials. Are we listening? Are we remembering?
Are we satisfied with the simple message of Isaiah 9:6?
This verse proclaims the true answer to what the Christmas season will be like,
“For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”
I can be honest about my spiritual state this Christmas, the wrap-up of “me” can be too much of a distraction rather than the celebration of “Him.” Many, this Christmas, struggle with the hopeful message of a Savior in this day and time. Quite frankly, there is much to struggle with in the world, especially during Christmas. Not everyone has a family in which to run. Not everyone has the spectacular delight of Christmas cookies, presents, and heart-warming belonging around a tree. Not everyone feels safe, or unconditionally loved, or even fully accepted. Not everyone is listened to and jolly with a hallelujah or a “ho ho ho.”
Those dealing with disease, death, shame, guilt...it all leads to doubt about this good news of a Savior and whether He is truly present during the Holidays. “Where are you Jesus?” “Where are you today?!” “I thought You said You would be there for me?!”
Habakkuk also struggled with the evil that was surrounding the people of Judah. There were consequences for their sin and discipline was the response from a righteous God. Though called to share this message, this did not mean Habakkuk did not mourn for the people, or even doubt the assurance of God’s care for them. Habakkuk, the prophet, wondered if God sovereignty was truly imminent with His people. Was God far off, just watching the horrors happening to Judah? In prayer, faith, and a broken song, Habakkuk praised God for answering some questions, while also still waiting for answers to others. Judah’s experiences did not defy God’s perfect, good will. The triumph of evil has never limited God. By accepting His will in help, mercy, love, and wrath, the people of Judah soon realized He is holy, truth cannot change, and I am the one who needs to change from the inside out.
Patiently waiting on God is one of the hardest disciplines to develop. I know personally in my life, though abiding in His rich grace, there is immense struggle when tumultuous circumstances, trials, refining, and discipline takes place. Letting go of control must be the objective when God proclaims and demonstrates His faithfulness.
He is faithful to you...yes you! He is faithful because His promise was to “never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5-6). When devastating circumstances rip away our dreams, family, health, pride, affluence, title, self-protection, self-care, home, and comfort, there is only One who can bring the peace and the joy we so desire this Christmas. When losing control and feeling as though the world is just not making sense, especially during Christmas, bear in mind there is strength in God. Ask God to shift your focus from your difficulties to the Savior of the world and His wondrous craftsmanship (John 3:16-17; Ephesians 2:20-21; Psalm 92:5; Psalm 40:5; Psalm 104-105; Psalm 9:1; Psalm 139:14-15).
This Christmas, we at RiverLakes Community Church, love you. Yes, you. Yes, all of you. Even the hidden doors, cracks, scars, and displeasing things you want to hide. Why? You see, Christ came to bring saving grace and justice to the world completely full of evil. Our confidence rests on Christ’s strength, through the Spirit. He has ultimate victory, yes even within you and around the chaotic trials you face.
The baby, the world awaited, was never deterred by sin reigning, but left the delight of heaven to take on that sin and save suffering, evil, religious individuals by grace alone. Habakkuk knew his limitations and patience was so hard when watching evil prosper among God’s people. In the midst of it, Habakkuk rested. Still in prayer and in faith, he found rest for his soul. He choose to surrender the events of Judah’s discipline and his control of the world’s events around him in trust to the all-seeing, steadfast, redemptive love of God.
We pray this Christmas God shares His love and grace with you so immensely that it rises and bursts through you, that you may know you have always been in His mind and heart. The world is crazy. Eventually, events and holidays will cease, as will people. But we have confidence and hope that this confusing world will ultimately be subdued into a redeeming hallelujah for the King that is coming again. Trust in this: He will one day come again carrying the same title as Savior and Lord. Choose an eternal perspective this Christmas no matter the challenges you are facing. (Philippians 2; Revelation 22:12-21)
Reflection Question: Have you prepared room in your heart for the King of Kings this Christmas?