We have just started a new series in James, and one key focus of chapter one is suffering and our response to it. And, of course, this is nothing new. Throughout history man has had to face the toughest of questions when he considers suffering – whether it is personal suffering or the suffering and injustice we see in the world and in society around us. But God is not silent about this issue. We can learn so much from His Word, even from the Old Testament. Look, for example, at the book of Habakkuk.
At the start of the book the prophet asks a question we can all understand: “How long must I call for help, but you do not listen?” (1:2). And the answer, when it does come from the Lord, may have surprised and shocked the prophet – for God is about to answer, but the answer is that He is sending judgement and destruction with the Babylonian invasion.
Habakkuk follows this up with a second question: If You are Holy, why don’t you destroy the evil Babylonians? “Why then do you tolerate the treacherous? Why are you silent while the wicked swallow up those more righteous than themselves?” (1:13)
God’s answer is to wait – for judgement will surely come upon the wicked. “For the revelation awaits an appointed time… though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay.” (2:3)
In the midst of our own trials, we would do well to emulate Habakkuk’s response:
1. “The Lord is in His holy temple, let all the earth be silent before Him.” (2:20) God is sovereign and righteous – whatever He decrees will happen. Who are we to protest at His ways?
2. “Lord, I have heard of your fame; I stand in awe of your deeds, O Lord.” (3:2) As mere creatures before an Almighty God, we can but bow down and submit to His perfect will.
3. In spite of fear, anguish and suffering now, “Yet I will wait patiently.” (3:16)
4. He determines to rejoice in the Lord in spite of his really tough circumstances. “Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Saviour” (3:18)
5. He looks to the Lord to find strength for each day. “The Sovereign Lord is my strength.” (3:19)
And all of this was to be sung, accompanied by stringed instruments!
Whatever we are going through, it is my prayer that we may all know God’s grace and peace, and a solid faith and trust in His unchanging Word. God IS in control, He KNOWS what He is doing and what you are going through, and He IS with you. Look to Him for your strength each day and stand firm on His promises of deliverance and eternal security in Christ.
And why not read the whole of Habakkuk? It is only 3 chapters!