We were on life principle number 20 this week. It says that disappointments are inevitable, but discouragement is a choice. Okay, I’m guilty. I admit, I far too often give in to discouragement. But then we looked and John 16:33, where Jesus says He has overcome the world. And we looked at James 1:2-4, talking about testing producing endurance and ultimately maturity. So that’s good I guess, though it’s hard to apply when your main problem is stores dropping the items you need to replace.
The book’s focus was on Habakkuk, another old testament prophet. He prayed for God to forgive the Israelites, but instead was told that the Babylonians were going to come and invade, as God’s judgement. Not exactly a happy situation to be in. Habakkuk didn’t like the answer, of course, but his faith was unshaken. I’m afraid most of us don’t have such a robust faith, able to say God is still worthy of praise even if all the crops fail or perhaps the economy itself, in our situation. Habakkuk was confident that even if the Lord let the Babylonians come, He would eventually punish them for attacking Israel and he was willing to wait to see that. As we know the end of that story, they were taken over in the next round of invasions and the Israelites were eventually allowed to return home and rebuild.
Not found in the book was the observation that God alone knew that this exile was the one thing that would finally root out the idolatry that had kept cropping up in the nation of Israel, ever since they left Egypt several hundred years before. Somehow, in the process of exile, the Israelites finally began to take their own scriptures seriously and they never again engaged in idolatry. In attempting to save their own cultural identity, they became a people of the book. Eventually, of course, they took the law to extremes that Jesus pointed out as actually antithetical to the intent of the law. But this course correction was more lasting than any reform effort undertaken by any of the good kings in their history ( who were often followed by kings who undid all the reforms). God surely knew what He was doing, painful as it was.
Following was a section on Psalm 73, with the key verse in the middle. It seems like the wicked have it easy and everything good comes to them. The psalmist could not understand, until he went into the sanctuary of God and realized that their end would be tragic when God arises. As someone said, they were getting the good stuff now, we get the best in eternity.
So I guess it all boils down to the lesson I keep having to learn over and over. When everything is going against you and you can’t see a way out, hang on to Jesus. Let Him teach you trust and somehow, in time, He will bring you through. I even have examples of that in my own life, but it seems like I keep having to relearn the lesson!