when life doesn’t seem right

How long, Lord, must I call for help,
    but you do not listen?
Or cry out to you, “Violence!”
    but you do not save?
Why do you make me look at injustice?
    Why do you tolerate wrongdoing?
Destruction and violence are before me;
    there is strife, and conflict abounds.
Therefore the law is paralyzed,
    and justice never prevails.
The wicked hem in the righteous,
    so that justice is perverted.

Habakkuk 1:2-4

If you’ve lived long enough, and for too many it’s too soon, you will know that something is not only not quite right, but too often just plain downright and perhaps even blatantly wrong. Habakkuk saw this, even an insight from the Lord which he received as a prophecy. He wrestled through, and received God’s response, and then worshiped with a confession of faith, in the end.

What do we do when we see injustice, and experience wrong ourselves? Too often we curse the darkness, or we complain and grumble to others. We don’t know if Habakkuk did any of that. We do know from the book, that he took his concern to the Lord, and that the Lord responded. An important key to the book is that God answered. That made all the difference in the world.

It’s not that God’s reply in its content is always welcomed, or easily understood, in fact it might provoke more questions, which was the case with Habakkuk. But he did not leave what amounted to a kind of conversation. And in the end, he had not only God’s answer, but a faith that would see God and worship him, as well as enable Habakkuk to glorify God in the midst of difficulty. Rather than disillusionment and despair, there was a faith and worship.

Hopefully the Lord can help me to that, today.

A great book to read on a Saturday, and prayerfully ponder.

 

asking questions

If there’s one thing I might say characterizes my thinking, it is asking questions. Or let’s put it this way: one thing I’d like to be true in my case, that would be a good beginning.

Faith isn’t at all diminished, when we ask questions. The Bible has many examples of that, both in terms of serious probing, and simple anguish. In fact we do well to bring our questions to God. And when we look at scripture, we find that God himself is not afraid to ask questions to challenge or encourage people concerning their faith. Jesus asked questions. So it can work both ways.

We are blessed to live during a time when many answers, or something toward an answer is right at our fingertips with the internet. That can be good. But in the end, we need to ask the harder, and larger questions: Why am I here; what’s the meaning of life? What is the conclusion, when all is said and done (Ecclesiastes)? Who is Jesus, and what difference does that make? Why is the resurrection the heart of the Christian faith, so that if Jesus didn’t rise from the dead, then our faith is null and void?

Of course we ask the lesser questions too, which all have their place of importance: Have humans impacted the climate, and if so, what can be done about it? And a whole host of questions on issues which in some cases are debated. Asking questions helps us find and better understand issues and problems, and can help us work toward possible solutions.

In the end for me I have to get in the word, and then the questions I have are in relation to what I’m reading and meditating on there. I find that gives a perspective like surely nothing else can. After all, I’m getting into God’s word written. And that helps me to major on what is major, and minor on what is minor, not that I achieve that well, all the time, or perhaps anytime at all, for that matter. We all need God’s grace in Jesus always. It’s not the case of asking the right questions. But faith takes God’s word seriously, and the nature of faith is interactivity with God. Questions can be one aspect of that.

And so we can continue to ask questions. But we do so, looking to the Lord to either answer them, or more likely to give us the grace to carry on in spite of not having any answer, although scripture gives us what we need for a life lived well before God. More and more we find that the answer to all of life somehow ultimately lies in God himself in and through Christ and by the Spirit. Of course many details addressed along the way as well, since God’s gifts figure in that equation, also.

And so keep asking questions. That is indicative of a faith that is alive and growing. Or could help one toward the beginning of faith. And look to God for the answers, through his word, and prayer. The way, the truth, and the life found in Jesus, so all of this actually in and through him.

 

thoughtful in prayer

We are creatures of habit and also often struggle in ruts or matters we either have been weak in, or too easily fall into again. We too often can be superficial in our thinking and in what we hold to be true. We oftentimes need to wrestle through matters in prayer. If we ever think we’re foolproof, surely we should think again (I’m not referring to the kind of knowing we have by faith). But it is all too easy to resort to the default position we’ve accepted and lived by for years and years.

We need to be people of the Book and in prayer, much on both accounts. And we need to be intentional, deliberate, and not hasty in doing this. Part of what may need to take place is the development of new patterns replacing the old. As we await in Jesus God’s completed change of both us and of the world.

humbled deeply

What if the one good thing one has to hold on to and sees good in, even fruit from in and through Christ, is taken away or damaged to the point of irreparable loss? A case in which one seems to be not only humbled, but humiliated, at least in one’s own eyes?

I think this can be a time of being humbled deeply in a way which can bring some correction in either ways we’ll never quite understand, along with perhaps some ways in which we will. It is crucial for us when in the depth of experiencing this humbling to hold on to our faith in such a way that we are unmoved from the course to which God has called us. But we need with that an openness to new things, whatever that might be in the way of Jesus.

And it is always key to remember that Christ’s power is made perfect in our weakness. When that strong part of us is touched and disabled– I think of Jacob’s hip touched by the angel of God he was wrestling, so that afterward he walked with a limp.

We don’t naturally like this. We want to hold on to what seems strongest to us. But God’s way is so different. God may want to touch something in our lives in whatever aspect which is not entirely right or helpful for our walk and witness in this life. To learn a new walk and dependence on him.

finding higher ground

From the ends of the earth I call to you,
    I call as my heart grows faint;
    lead me to the rock that is higher than I.

Sometimes we are either besieged by or inundated with trials or a trial. We are hard pressed to continue on, somehow feeling the sentence of death within ourselves.

Those are times with the psalmist to call out to God, to ask him to lead us to the rock that is higher than ourselves. The rock is actually God himself, God’s revelation of himself in Jesus.

Do we come out of this unscathed and unmarked? Not at all. Jacob walked with a limp the rest of his life after he wrestled with God at Peniel and became “Israel.” We may never be the same, and in this case that’s good, even if with that there are things we may need to guard against. There is the truly good life to be lived in God’s presence with his people for his glory, as we see from the rest of the psalm. We are all a kingdom and priests, and the Lord has something special for each one of us. Above all the Lord gives us himself to be with us, and we with him in his saving reign.

And so I remember this psalm this morning as my heart grows faint. I ask God to lead me to the rock that is higher than I. That I might live well with others in Jesus together for the world.

taking a stand

There are times when by faith we will need to take a stand. When we really don’t have the answer to our problem, or question. But when all hell seems arrayed against us, we will have to stand firm to see the salvation of God.

We take a stand on God’s revelation in Jesus. Yes, it is a stand of faith which is not entirely passive. Faith without works is dead (James). But this stand in itself is passive. Because while we go on living out our faith in Christ (active), we wait for his salvation and deliverance (passive).

We stand on the truth revealed in and through Christ in scripture. Examples: “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus…“; “‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.’”; For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” And many more.

When we take this stand we do so attempting complete dependence on Christ. Knowing that our salvation and hope is only in him. With an interdependence on his body, the church, which in a sense is Christ as well. “The church is Christ.” We are part of that give and take, but there may be times when we especially need to take, or receive.

We take this stand by faith, awaiting the work of God by the Spirit, to make real to and for us, what is revealed as true in and through his Son. In our ongoing witness of the faith that is in Jesus, together in him for the world.