Thursday, May 25, 2006

Standing Watch

Spending time in God's Word today took me to the book of Habakkuk in the Old Testament.

Habakkuk lived during one of Judah's most critical periods. His country had fallen from the heights of Josiah's reforms to the depths of violent treatment of its citizens, oppressive measures against the poor, and collapse of the legal system. The world around Judah was at war, with Babylonia rising to ascendancy over Assyria and Egypt. The threat of invasion from the north added to Judah's internal turmoil.

In the beginning of the book, Habakkuk is overwhelmed by the circumstances around him. He believes that God has removed Himself from the situation and is nowhere to be found. After crying out and asking the Lord several questions Habakkuk says, "I will stand my watch and set myself on the rampart, and watch to see what He will say to me. And what I will answer when I am corrected." Then the Lord answered Habakkuk and said: "Write the vision and make it plain on tablets, that he may run who reads it. For the vision is yet for an appointed time; but at the end it will speak, and it will not lie. Though it tarries, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry." (chapter 2:1-3)

Having completed his questioning, Habakkuk stands like a sentinel to await his answer from God.

How can we apply this to our lives today? God requires that we make our relationship with Him our highest priority, that we bring our deepest questions and turmoils before Him, expecting His answers and guidance. Set aside a regular time and place that is holy to the Lord. Spend time listening for His word as you read, study, and mediate on Scripture. Be faithful in daily prayer. Document those things the Lord speaks to you or quickens to your heart. Record biblical promises He makes alive to you, and hold fast to them, knowing they will come to pass.

The book of Habakkuk gives the account of a spiritual journey, telling of one man's pilgrimmage from doubt to worship. The difference between the beginning of the book and the end of the book is striking. Habakkuk reminds us that the question, "Why?" can, should and must be asked. His circumstances demanded that he ask God about the apparent reign of unrighteousness around him. Because he believed in God, he believed that God had an answer to his problem. Habakkuk teaches that it's possible to rise above circumstances and even to rejoice in them, by focusing on God who stands above all. Habakkuk does not deny his problems, nor does he treat them lightly; instead, he finds God sufficient in the midst of his troubles.

When all the circumstances of our life present a negative picture - in failure and loss or when the natural reaction would be grief or complaint --this is the time to put faith in God and in His Word. Then we can see through God's eyes to the final glorious outcome. This brings worship and praise even before our circumstances have changed. Determine to praise and worship and thank God for His faithfulness, no matter how devastating the circumstances. Look with the eye of faith at God's plan for the future.

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