Faith in Hard Times

I intended to preach the last part of our series on Acts today -  but after chatting to people at  the prayer meeting on Friday  - and reflecting on  on the week’s news.  I thought a message about evangelism and church growth was probably not what our congregation needed to here today.   Today, we are going to consider how  we can praise God during difficult times  - 0ur source text is going to be  Habakkuk s prayer found in chapter 3 of the book of Habakkuk.

B - just to orientate yourself to this seemingly obscure  old Testament Prophet  -  Here is some background .

 

 

 The Book of Habakkuk was written around 600 years before the birth of Christ  - the  Jewish people are in captivity  begins with Habakkuk crying out to God for an answer to why God’s chosen people are allowed to suffer in their captivity .The Lord gives His answer to Habakkuk, essentially stating, “You wouldn’t believe it if I told you” Habakkuk then follows up by saying, “Ok, you are God, but still tell me more about why this is happening”. God then answers him again and gives him more information, then tells the earth to be silent before Him  ). Then Habakkuk writes a prayer expressing his strong faith in God, even through these trials 

 

Habbakuk would not allow anything to get in the way of his praise of God.  How can he make such a promise  - how does he manage to praise  when everything is crashing down around  - in the midst of chaos, pain  and suffering  - hoe does he keep the faith. And what is it that allows us to keep faithful  and thankful to God even in uncertain and difficult times .

First Verse 3: 17 -  we can be thankful because God is unchanged. 

As he begins his promise  - he paints for us a picture of Loss.  Clearly  it is a time of economic ruin – t  Fruit, Oil , cereal crops and meat are all lost.   We know enough about farming in this region to know that is a disaster – on a par with the collapse of the stock market.   Perhaps even worse the stock market can pick up in the blink of an eye  - farming is years of work.   Corona Virus has potential to wreck livelihood , cause shortages and put financial and physical strain on many, many people.  And with that strain comes stress, worry, fear, anxiety and tension .

I am sure Habakkuk would have felt these sort of emotions  as well. But even so, in verse 18 Habakkuk promises to give thanks to the Lord. How can that be? How can Habakkuk promise to be thankful during such difficult times? Habakkuk new a crucial truth about the Lord, he knew God was unchanged. While things in this world will change, God won't. In Malachi 3:6 we read, “For I the Lord do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed.” And in Hebrews 13:8, we learn: "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and  tomorrow

 God and His promises will not change nor fail us; we can promise ahead of time to be thankful even during the worst of times. One promise we can count on is that God will provide a way for us to experience salvation, which leads us to the second reason for why we can be thankful in difficult times.

 

We can be thankful because we have salvation  ( V 18)

Much as we like to think that life is stable and everything is certain  - the truth is it isn’t. We are seldom far away from problems. 

I don’t think we need to have a catalogue of individual  illustration  -  there are bad things happen to good people.  Yes, its not all gloom and doom there here are many blessings in life  - but the fact remains  life  isn't as stable and certain as we think, but there is one thing that is — our salvation.

Everything else can be taken from us — Our job, house, health, ability to communicate, our freedom, and even our life — but our salvation is certain. In Romans 8:1 Paul writes, "There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Ro 8:1)

You see, those who have repented of their sin and believe in Jesus, as their Lord and Saviour, no longer must fear God’s   judgement for their transgressions  because Jesus has taken it for them. Of that, we can be certain not only because God's Word tells us, but also because God is unchanged. There will never come a day when God will change His mind about how we are saved or who is saved. For that, we can be thankful even while facing even the worst of  hardships.

 

 

(3) We can be thankful in difficult times because God is Sovereign (v.19)

God being sovereign means that He is in control of everything. As the One who is in control, He either causes or allows everything to happen according to His eternal decree. Hearing that might make us uncomfortable because it means there are things that happen that God could have stopped but doesn’t. But while God’s sovereignty may initially make us uncomfortable, it ultimately should comfort us because it means God is in control and He can and will work all things out according to His eternal plan. Isn’t that what we learn God is doing in the book of Romans? In Romans 8:28 we read, "And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”

Paul doesn’t mean for us to think everything will work out just fantastic  for those who are Christians. And he is not  trying to tell us that every cloud that descends upon us  actually has a “silver lining”, or that every terrible thing is somehow actually a good thing if we learn to look at it properly.

That is not what Paul is saying. Instead, Paul is telling us God will ultimately use everything in our lives to glorify Him and bring us to salvation. The only way God can use everything in our lives to glorify Him and bring us to salvation is if God is sovereign, which means He must be and is in control of everything. Since God knows and is working everything out according to His plan and purpose, we can praise and thank God

(4) We can be thankful in difficult times because we are triumphant in Christ (v. 19)

In Christ, we are triumphant over the evil in our lives now because Jesus has freed us from its bondage and none of it will separate us from God (Rom. 8:31-39). We will be triumphant over our enemies in the future when Jesus returns because He will vindicate us and destroy our enemies once and for all (Rev. 19-22). 

Before then, we will face difficult situations, but none of them will ultimately defeat us because God will keep us in Christ. In Christ, we will be and are victorious and triumphant. So when we face difficult situations, we should thank God because He gives us the strength to continue in the faith, and He will one day free us from those situations, conquering our enemies and ushering in a New Heavens and New Earth where we will live in sinless perfection for all eternity. 

So when you face difficulties in this life, and you will, don’t run from God, rather run to Him, praising and thanking Him for all you have in Him despite the difficulties and hardship you are experiencing. 

Admittedly, praising God in the difficult times is not easy, but by remembering our God is unchanged, He provides us with salvation, He is Sovereign, and He causes us to be triumphant in Christ, should make it possible for us to stand and say with Habakkuk, 

“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.” (Hab 3:18–19)”