Episode 11.Praying in light of forever. Habakkuk 2.
Life can be so hard sometimes. Are you struggling with a painful situation and crying out to God for an answer? Sharon and Nicole continue the 3-part series that was started last week on praying when it’s hard, and this week, they continue the conversation talking about waiting on the Lord and praying in light of eternity. Join the discussion as we ponder, with Habakkuk, the times when life seems very unfair.
Please leave a comment and share with us if you'd like us to join you in prayer for a hurt in your own life. We'd be honored to pray with you, friend. Let's pray in light of forever. God sees it all.
Speaker 1 (00:01):
Well. Hello, tired one. Are you feeling a bit frazzled and worn out? Welcome to the Sweet Selah Moments podcast. We hope lessons from God’s word and encouragement from us will lead you to soul rest. Sweet Selah Moments podcast is brought to you by word radio and Sweet Selah Ministries.
Welcome to the Sweet Selah Moments podcast. We’ve been talking about praying when it’s hard and today we’re going to get an eternal perspective on prayer from the prophet Habakkuk. We are so glad you joined us for episode 11, Praying in Light of Forever. If you want to hear the first part of this lesson, be sure to listen to episode 10 When it’s Hard to Pray. Sharon, hello.
Can you give us a quick summary of last week’s prayer lesson before we move into this week’s?
I sure can. We are studying the obscure little book of Habakkuk. Who knew? Just a tiny little guy, hard to find because he’s only a few pages long, but we’re studying it because we wanted to look at the life of someone who prayed when it was hard. And when he certainly did not get the answers he wanted. Last week, we saw how Habakkuk was not afraid to go to God repeatedly with hard questions and God spoke back and he will in today’s reading as well. God wants us to ask him and God wants us to go to him. And Habakkuk did and he’s a great example. And then we looked at Jesus’ prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane. We saw how Jesus also asked repeatedly for a reprieve from the crucifixion.
Another way. It was great to have such a strong second example and reading about Jesus in the garden, brought us to another truth. Praying keeps us from temptation, the temptation toward doubting God’s goodness, the temptation to despair. When we run to God to find comfort, even if the hard stuff does not change. So cool. Well today God speaks again to Habakkuk and I am eager to listen in. So Nicole, let’s read Habakkuk 2 together, and those of you who are listening, this is our favorite part. This is what we call our Sweet Selah moment when God speaks through his word, not just Nicole and Sharon, but we all listen together to what God himself says. So wherever you are and whatever you are doing, may you be blessed by his word, which is true. And all of it is God breathed. So Nicole, why don’t you start Habakkuk 2 verse one and let’s just go back and forth this time.
Okay. Habakkuk 2: I will climb up to my Watchtower and stand at my guard post. There I will wait to see what the Lord says and how he will answer my complaint.
Then the Lord said to me, write my answer plainly on tablets so that a runner can carry the correct message to others.
This vision is for a future time. It describes the end and it will be fulfilled. If it seems slow in coming, wait patiently for it will surely take place. It will not be delayed.
Look at the proud they trust in themselves and their lives are crooked, but the righteous will live by their faithfulness to God.
Wealth is treacherous and the arrogant are never at rest. They open their mouth as wide as the grave and like death. They are never satisfied. In their greed they have gathered up many nations and swallowed many people.
But soon the captives will taunt them. They will mock them saying ‘what sorrow awaits you thieves? Now you will get what you deserve. You’ve become rich by extortion, but how much longer can this go on?’
Suddenly your debtors will take action. They will turn on you and take all you have while you stand trembling and helpless.
Because you have plundered many nations. Now, all the survivors will plunder you. You committed murder throughout the countryside and filled the towns with violence.
What sorrow awaits you who build big houses with money gained dishonestly. You believe your wealth will buy security, putting your family’s nest beyond the reach of danger.
But by the murders you committed, you have shamed your name and forfeited your lives.
The very stones and the walls cry out against you and the beams in the ceilings, echo the complaint.
What sorrow awaits you, who build cities with money, gained through murder and corruption.
Has not the Lord of heaven’s armies promised that the wealth of nations will turn to ashes. They work so hard, but all in vain.
For as the waters fill the sea, the earth will be filled with an awareness of the glory of the Lord.
What sorrow awaits you, who make your neighbors drunk? You force your cup on them so you can gloat over their shameful nakedness.
But soon it will be your turn to be disgraced. Come, drink and be exposed. Drink from the cup of the Lord’s judgment and all your glory will be turned to shame.
You cut down the forests of Lebanon. Now you will be cut down. You destroyed the wild animals. So now their terror will be yours. You committed murders throughout the countryside and filled the towns with violence.
What good is an idol carved by man or a cast image that deceives you? How foolish to trust in your own creation. A God that can’t even talk.
What sorrow awaits you who say to wooden idols, wake up and save us. To speechless stone images. You say rise up and teach us. Can an idol tell you what to do. They may be overlaid with gold and silver, but they are lifeless inside.
But the Lord is in his Holy temple. Let all the earth be silent before him. Hm, Whoa.
Well, the lovely thing I think about this is that God basically is saying, hang on. It’s not over yet. And there will come a time when I will make these things right. And the thing is you have to do the hang on part, you know, before the Babylonians get destroyed by the Medes and Persians, they have a pretty nice little run and the Israelites are in captivity 70 years before they come back. So it’s that waiting part that’s so hard, but this whole chapter is full of reassurance from God that he sees. When somebody builds a fine house on the back of someone else’s bruises, God notices. And when people are cruel in the way they build a city and are mean God sees it. I think God, in this passage, is saying, you just wait. I know waiting is hard but you just wait, there will be justice.
It’s so hard.
And you know, I think it’s hard for Americans, especially because we are so used to having everything just sort of instantly done.
Yes, we do not like to wait for anything.
I mean, even if the internet connection is slow and you see that little circle go round and round?
I get so mad at myself about that. I’m like, you know, for crying out loud, Sharon years ago, you couldn’t even do what you’re doing. And you’re annoyed because it’s taking 10 seconds instead of two.
I know we’re so conditioned for instant gratification. It’s awful.
We really, really are. But this is what Habakkuk says. He says, I will climb up to my watchtower and stand at my guard post. There I will wait to see what the Lord says and how he will answer my complaint. There I will wait. Oh Nicole, how often do I go to God and ask? And if I don’t hear something instantly, I’m done.
Habakkuk was not done. He waited, he just waited. And then he got this glorious answer from God that said, I see this and it will be taken care of. But he had to wait and we need to learn the value of simply waiting on God and being at peace in the wait. You know, we don’t have to be in a hurry about it. God has this under control.
We had learned something in one of our Bible studies last year about sitting in the unknown, when you read scripture or you’re waiting for an answer, just being okay in that place of not knowing. That is so difficult. I hate being in that place.
Yes, yes. We were in that place several times in the military where we just didn’t know where we were going next. And we just had to be satisfied where we were.
Waiting in the unknown. I like that. Or did you say sitting in the unknown?
Sitting in the unknown, like not always having the answer right there, just being content to be in that ‘I don’t know’. Cause in that, ‘I don’t know’, God works out so much in our own hearts that we wouldn’t sit still and work out if we’re on to the next plan, you know?
That’s true. And you know, the interesting thing about waiting is we can still do so much of what God asks us to do. We can still love every day.
That’s true. Yes.
We can still show kindness every day. We can still serve the people around us every day, even in the wait. The things that really matter: the sitting at his feet and learning from him and the giving out of the fruit of the Spirit, no matter what big thing we don’t know is going to happen. Those small things can happen in a concentration camp for crying out loud, wherever we are. You know? And I just love that, that first line was ‘I’m sitting and waiting’ says Habakkuk. I’m just waiting for your answer.
So I sometimes want answers before they should be given. Ray and I think so differently. I am sort of an instant decider, you know, like, right. Okay. I’ve heard the two choices; I choose A. And Ray is like, how have you chosen A? We have talked about it for about 0.3 seconds. Could we discuss A and B? Perhaps we should research just a little bit just in case B is a better answer.
(laughing) Oh my goodness!
Sometimes waiting produces a better answer. You know, sometimes we’re not ready to hear whatever answer God has for us. Sometimes that answer is in process.
And it’s better to wait. Have you ever rushed a decision when maybe you shouldn’t have?
Oh, all the time, that’s a super power weakness of mine. I think you and I have this same… I think you and I process very similar, very quick. I think so fast. And I’m like, Oh, clearly it’s this. And my husband is very similar to Ray where they have to sit and plan and discuss every little detail that I just kind of sit there, wanting to die. Have you made a decision?
Yes, yes, yes. Every nuance. Exactly. And yet I do believe that’s why God puts us together so that, you know, we help them eventually make a decision and they slow us down and God is so good like that. And waiting is good for us. Waiting is good because even though I might like to be queen I’m not, and I’d actually make a very poor one. I am not queen and I need to wait on the Lord. And sometimes I need to wait on my husband for the right time. So, so waiting on the Lord is a good thing. It may be a hard thing, but it is a good thing. It develops our faith muscles and it increases our trust in him. As we continue to sit and wait, we don’t pout and run away. We keep coming to him like Habakkuk. We watch, we wait, we’re in the Word.
We wait. And sometimes it might take a year for him to show us, you know, a next step. But if we are in a waiting position that is humble and submitted, it will be okay that it takes a while. It really can. I can remember the not knowing when we were moving because of Ray’s assignment, driving me crazy. I hated the inability to make plans. You know, they’d cancel an assignment and we’d just be not knowing where we’d be two months from then. I can remember saying to somebody, I don’t even know what continent I’m going to be living on two months from now.
So people would be making plans for the fall and I would not be able to make any plans at all. So I had to learn to simply live in that day. So I’d wake up and say, well, today here I am in Stuttgart, Germany still. You know, I would say that to myself. So show me how to live well right here, Lord. And you know, even this morning, no kidding. I woke up and wondered what day it was because in this pandemic where I’m always home, I don’t know what day it is.
And I said that to him because that’s become a pattern in my life. So here I am in my home and it’s still a social isolation time in a pandemic, but I’m here. Show me what you have for me today, right where I am. And that has helped me so much over and over again. I don’t know the future, but today show me what you have for me today. Help me to live well today. So it’s so beautiful. It really is.
That is such a good exercise. I’ve been trying to do that more just with being present with my kids and my family cause I’m always thinking ahead. Cause as moms you’re always planning the next meal, chore, events. Even in a pandemic, there’s still life kind of goes on in your little world and just stopping and kind of, okay, what’s happening right now. What can I do to be present in this moment? I love that you’ve built that habit with God of just like, okay, today is May whatever, and this is what’s happening and what do you have for me to do right now? That’s a really good habit to build in, to refocus our attention.
Right. Because sometimes we let helplessness take over and then we’re no good right where we are. And we miss the beauty of the day right in front of us. And God always gives us next steps. In the Psalms it says you light a path for my feet, but you might only see the next step on the path, but he will show you that.
Yes. So that word path is only one footstep at a time. It’s not like the whole long trail. It’s one step at a time.
Right. Right. So we have to stay in the present. And when we have a hard time, which, you know, we’re kind of all living through right now, we become more aware of it. That we need to live in the present. And the nice thing about having been through a few hard times is now I kind of have that fallback. Oh yes. This is one of those times when I need to wake up in the morning and say, you know, here I am Lord. So it becomes a rhythm and a pattern because hard times come and yet every day God has an assignment for us. And if we look for that in the present, we’re good. So, so God’s answer in Habakkuk was kind of cool. He assures Habakkuk that the evil ones will not prosper forever.
I know it! There will be a time of reckoning.
All the wealth in the world won’t be enough to save a person from a final judgment day with God presiding. God basically reminds Habakkuk of eternity. It’s only when we look at this world as all there is that we give way to despair at times. When we look at the eternal perspective, it all shifts back into place. Death becomes just a temporary separation. The future is bright. Even if the present is dark, God reigns, and God sees all of it. He sees why some hard things are allowed for a season and his purposes are always good. There’s no way we can reason out how to make all the pieces fit into place. We don’t know how to draw people from every tribe and nation to Christ. We don’t know the ripple effects a tragedy will end up having for good. We can’t completely see how all our current sorrow will turn to rejoicing when we get to heaven and see the Savior face to face. When he deigns to stoop and wipe the tears from our eyes.
What a day.
We can’t see all that now, but it will happen. It will happen. And when we have that eternal perspective, it is so much better. So.
It really is.
So did you have a favorite verse in Habakkuk 2?
I really like the first one. I think there’s so much in that verse. When Habakkuk says I will climb up to my watchtower and stand at my guard post and he’s ready for an answer. He’s standing there ready to hear from God. I love the way he approaches God. He’s confident that God will answer him. I will answer his complaints and not just his sweet praise or prayer, like he’s, he’s coming, complaining.
Yeah. He is.
And I think the boldness that he gets from knowing God’s faithfulness in the past shows in how he says he will wait to hear how God will answer him. Like he’s ready. And I love, I just love his boldness. Like he’s going forth to complain to God. He’s like, I’m standing here. God. And I know you’ll hear me. I know you’ll answer me. So I’m like, Oh, I’m okay to complain to God.
It’s allowed. It is. And the active waiting of it. I mean, he is on his Watchtower watching for God. You know, if we have a big decision to make are we doing that? We’re like, we’re here waiting. And we’re actively watching for you until you answer, because I know you will answer. Yeah. So beautiful. I love that one too. So I like a lot of them, but I want to look at verse 12 because as I was reading this with you, it just sort of summarized…, Oh, let me read it. And then I’ll explain. What sorrow awaits you, who build cities with money, gained through murder and corruption. Has not the Lord of heaven’s armies promised that the wealth of nations will turn to ashes. They worked so hard, but all in vain. And I there’s actually sorrow in me reading this, thinking that, you know, people that are living for the wrong things that are, are living to just be all powerful and have all that stuff.
What sorrow awaits you when you grow old anyways? What sorrow awaits you when you have to leave it all behind and you die and you’re not ready for what’s next.
A terrifying thought.
It just kind of breaks my heart because really, if we’re only working for what we can gain in this world, what, what vanity, cause it’s not going to last and we don’t take it with us. So whenever we’re tempted to think that, you know, people are getting away with things they’re really not. This little life here is such a blip compared to eternity. It really is.
And it they’re not saved, Oh, go ahead.
I’m sorrowing for the ones that God says, what sorrow awaits you.
Yeah. Well as I say, they’re not saved so this is it for them. Like if you’re not putting your hope in Christ, if your salvation is not in Christ and we all have heaven to look forward to where all the wrongs will be righted, all the tears wiped away and we’ll be with Jesus. Like if you don’t have that, this life is all you have. And that’s, that’s sad. So you kind of give more grace maybe to the wicked that you see prospering.
This is it.
Yes. That’s all you get.
And if you don’t repent, you know, please come to him cause it’s a lot better. I’m looking forward to heaven.
Exactly, exactly. I think that’s the right heart attitude to have. We can be angry at sin. We can be angry at cruelty, but there ought to be pity in our hearts for the person because, Oh my, I wouldn’t want to be in their shoes. No I really would not want to be in their shoes. So, well, there are two verses. I think we need to come back to, as we finish up here, they’re ones that kind of reassure us in this passage where God is just going on and on about y’all think you are doing bad things and getting away with it? Well, you’re not, you know. And the first one is verse 14. It says ‘for as the waters fill the sea, the earth will be filled with an awareness of the glory of the Lord’. What a fun promise that is.
The earth will be filled with an awareness. And you know, that is a wonderful prayer to pray for someone that doesn’t know God.
Oh, I like that one.
Fill them with the awareness of your glory. Lord, when they look up in the sky and see those stars, help them to know how small they are and how big you are.
Yeah. And to go to you. Absolutely.
Yeah. And it’s as sure as the waters fill the sea, it’s that sure that the earth will be filled someday with the awareness of the glory of God.
What a beautiful promise.
It is. And it’s kind of a yearning thing. Oh Lord, someday it will be obvious to all of us who you are. And all of us will look at this new earth when you make it all new again and, and be all ‘wowed’ over it. You know, it’s so, so beautiful. So I love that. And then verse 20 is so a selah verse. It just is, it says this, the Lord is in his Holy temple, let all the earth, be silent before him. My friend Kathy often says to me, if I’m getting into a dither about something, she’ll say Sharon, God is not pacing back and forth in heaven wringing his hands.
Oh, that’s a good reminder.
It really calms me down. I’m like, well, of course he’s not. I may be walking back and forth wringing my hands, but, but the Lord is seated in his holy temple with every single thing under his control. So we can be silent before him knowing that he works everything out for good. Knowing that he will right every wrong in the end.
What a comfort that is.
That we can be silent before him as I just picture walking around wringing my hands, which I do. A lot. And then being like, Oh, it’s not up to me. I can be silent before him. He’s got this. He’s on his throne in his Holy temple. He knows what’s going to happen. Even during, you know, mass chaos and panic and pandemics and viruses. God’s got all of this. I don’t need to worry about this.
Exactly, exactly. And he’s with us in the midst of it, whatever hard thing it is. And he means good for us. And sometimes, you and I have talked about this. Sometimes the hardest things, the things you dislike so much end up being just rocks of memory in your background, that you say, ‘and that’s where God met me’. And that’s where I saw his glory. And that’s where he strengthened my faith. So we can trust him.
Yeah, we definitely grow. We, it’s not fun to admit, but we grow our most through trials. Absolutely. I mean the happy times are wonderful. I love them. But the times in my life where God has taught me the most or worked out things in me that were sin has been during really hard times. And I always stomp my foot and go please don’t make me do this. I really don’t want to do this. And I go, okay, here I come. Here we go. But you’ve got to stay with me because I’m a miserable person.
Just let me hold your hand.
That’s usually my thing. Just hold my hand.
And he always does though. He’s not sitting up in his temple going all right guys, I’ll get you at the end. He’s with us through every agonizing moment. He is there, present. That’s such a beautiful gift.
It is. And he knows what it’s like to agonize. When we read of Jesus’ agony in the Garden of Gethsemane last week, he knows. It’s not like he’s off somewhere not having an idea how much it hurts.
He says he’s felt it. He has suffered. We have a suffering God. It’s just amazing to me. It is so wonderful. It really is. Someday the glory of the Lord will be obvious to everyone. Someday we will see the whys to the questions we asked. Yes, the Lord is in his Holy temple. And we should be silent in a Holy hush before his majesty at times. But before we close, I don’t want to say that all this, you know, sounds great. And I believe it’s true and leave it at that because it does not take away from the screaming pain you can feel sometimes. And some people listening to us now are in screaming pain.
They’ve been betrayed. They’ve had an unwanted divorce. They’ve lost a child. There’s a crippling illness that goes on and on without relief. That pain is real and God feels it too. God knows it. God has felt pain. And I’ve felt that kind of pain spear me and pin me breathless to the wall a time or two. And you have too, Nicole. You have too. So what would you say to someone listening today who hears us, who even mentally agrees with us? Yes. It’s all going to work out at the end. We can trust, but whose heart is currently breaking?
Hmm, don’t lose heart dear one. This painful situation that you are in is not too big for God. He sees you in your pain. His love for you and me is incredible. Psalm 34:18 says the Lord is close to the brokenhearted. He rescues those whose spirits are crushed. He will never abandon us in our struggles. One of our pastors always says, God never wastes pain. This will be for some good someday. Even if we can’t see it right now through the tears. So don’t give up. Don’t stop praying. Even if you feel your prayers are mostly complaints, God hears them all. And he does answer.
Amen. Well, let me close us in prayer. Oh Father God. Thank you so much for chapter 2 in Habakkuk, where you assure us that there will come a time when every wrong will be made, right. And Father, for those that are hurting right now, I pray that you would just hold them, that you would comfort them with the comfort only you can give because only you are there with them and see their soul and see their hurting heart. God be tender. Be merciful. We love you. We trust you. We wait for you with a sure hope and expectancy. In Jesus name. Amen.
Dear listener, we hope that if you are hurting today, these words have brought some comfort, just knowing it’s okay to run to God and cry out is a huge help isn’t it? We are always willing and ready to pray for you. So please do go to our show notes and comments firstname.lastname@example.org/podcast and share your prayer requests friend. We will pray for you. Truly, we will. Do come back next week to finish up this Praying When it’s Hard series. I’m really looking forward to episode 12, Breakthrough Prayer.
Speaker 1 (28:21):
We are so glad you stopped for awhile with us. Sweet Selah Moments is a cooperative production of Word Radio and Sweet Selah Ministries. More information about this podcast, including show notes, can be email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org Thank you for joining us.
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