You, Lord, have appointed them to execute judgment; you, my Rock, have ordained them to punish.
Hab 1:12 NIV
We all can agree to the fact that life’s not easy. We have all gone through seasons of despair and hardships that seemed to rule the day. Resilient periods in life seem to be like an eternal, perpetual rainy day in the presence of someone who loves being outdoors. Life can be a hurricane, yet sometimes it can feel like a desert. Life is an exciting journey filled with both moments of joy and times of painful circumstances. As human beings, when things go contrary to what we expect, we have a tendency to blame God. Some of us are of the opinion that God is to be held liable for all of the bad things we experience; a foolish thought, right?
To imagine God appointing an evil doer to execute a plan in His name is quite puzzling. To our limited human minds, the whole concept of this very idea seems flawed and flat out wrong. It sounds like something that is not meant to be put together. I do not know the reasons behind why God chose to make a decision like that, but one thing is sure: He wanted to bring judgment. God will always use whatever and whoever best serves His purposes to teach us a lesson, to bring correction to us, to instruct us when needed, and as in this case, to bring judgment upon His people. The people of Israel had gone astray, therefore, they required a sharp wake-up call to make them return to a life following His direction. God wanted to make a substantial and direct point: He is in charge.
So often, we question God for whatever situation we may be exposed to regardless if it is the visible and tangible outcome of a wrong decision we may have made. Let’s say that you don’t know how to swim, for example. You wouldn’t throw yourself into a swimming pool just because it looked appealing to you, would you? The single idea of doing such a thing is ridiculous. What would you say to someone who, not knowing how to swim, jumps into a swimming pool and as he struggles to survive dares to question and even argue with God for allowing this to happen? That would be ridiculous, right? The reality is that the person is experiencing the direct result of his foolish and deadly behavior. God had nothing to do with this choice. The same can be said when we do not submit and obey God. When the “unexpected” and painful outcome finally reaches us, we argue and question God Almighty for not preventing us from undergoing such experience, even though it was our own fault. We must take responsibility for our actions.
God’s heart is bursting with love, purpose, and a brilliant future for all His sons and daughters. The one thing he asks of us is utter submission to His will, and compliance to His righteous deeds. In the words of Jesus himself, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” John 14:15 (NASB). As we have seen, the people of Israel have failed to keep God’s commandments, and thus walked away from Him. God tried to call them back, but they ignored Him.
I recall one conversation I had one summer with a man who had gone through a painful divorce, and as a result of it, he underwent a divisive alienation from his family. What surprised me then was the fact that in spite of his painful situation, he was still deeply rooted in the Word of God, and rests entirely in Him. He is a man of prayer. He’s able to see and face this awful circumstance with a godly perspective. As we were talking about how pain and suffering are inevitable in life, we came to a point of realization: suffering matures us. In other words, suffering is the pathway to “perfection” in Christ. As followers of Christ, we want to live a life that imitates Jesus’, an experience that portrays not only the teachings of Jesus, but His heart as well. In essence, we want to strive for a life marked by love, mercy, and compassion.
The term Christian was first coined in Acts 11:26 (NET) where we read, “Now it was in Antioch that the disciples were first called Christians.” The disciples were called Christians due to their behavior, the way in which they spoke, and because of how they treated others. These positive traits, without a doubt, all resembled the forms of Christ. It was because of how they related to others that people identified them as followers of Christ. As it has already been said, Jesus didn’t promise a problem free life. Quite the contrary. The real question is, how do we react when suffering, pain, loss, and hardship arise in our life? Where do we go to find rest, assurance, peace, and strength when the storms in our life come to shore and seem to be more than we can handle? The Bible tells us:
Moreover [let us also be full of joy now!] let us exult and triumph in our troubles and rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that pressure and affliction and hardship produce patient and unswerving endurance. And endurance (fortitude) develops maturity of character (approved faith and tried integrity). And character [of this sort] produces [the habit of] joyful and confident hope of eternal salvation. Such hope never disappoints or deludes or shames us, for God’s love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
Romans 5:3–5 AMP
Rocks are solid. That’s a beautiful image of how God is. He is solid. Not only is He stable, but in Him we find strength, protection, salvation, and deliverance. Habakkuk knew it. That’s why he acknowledged Elohim as that firm place in his life where he could turn to regardless of whatever the situation may be. The prophet knew that God will bring judgment to his people, yet he was still confident in who God is. He was able to stand still and wait for God as the affliction came to pass.
To not only understand but to believe that Jesus is our solid rock is decisive! He is our refuge. As our deliverer he will surely fight our battles. He will bring deliverance in due time and according to His perfect Will. The fight is not ours, it has never been, and it will never be, no matter how personal we take things. Our sole responsibility is to stand firm, believe, trust, and wait on God.
In the New Testament, we are able to see how firm Paul’s faith in God was. He knew firsthand that following Christ and doing His would not be easy. He was beaten, cursed, and even imprisoned because of his resolution to preach Christ, and for pursuing a lifestyle whose sole purpose was to be more like his Savior. In our current age, we complain about the sun, the weather, and not having enough soft drinks and refreshments when volunteering for VBS while supervising the kids in our AC-controlled facilities. Let’s be honest for a moment, those are the main concerns that 21st century Christians face. Our first reaction when life becomes hard, when affliction threatens our hearts, and when hardships rob our joy should always be bowing our knees in utter dependence on God as we face the ground in prayer. Yet, this is seldom the case.
God uses these complex and apparently sore situations in our lives to teach us not only something about Himself, His love, and His character, but He utilizes these events to mature us as individuals and as Christians. The Apostle Paul challenged us to be full and filled with joy in every situation. It is out of that place of contentment amid hardship, when through our attitudes, and by our response to those bitter seasons in life, that hope is birthed and strengthened inside us. This is done through the power of Scripture, and through the divine influence of the Holy Spirit in us. It is when we come to a place of vulnerability that we gain both a new perspective and a solid conviction about who God is. When we are vulnerable, we position ourselves in a place where the Holy Spirit can come and breathe life, peace, healing, and contentment as we seek God with an open heart. To be vulnerable is not a sign of weakness. On the contrary, it is evidence of a humble and surrendered heart that is not afraid to present itself raw before the Father.
The Bible tells us that:
For whoever would come near to God must [necessarily] believe that God exists and that He is the rewarder of those who earnestly and diligently seek Him [out]. Hebrews 11:6 AMP
As believers, we have all been granted the privilege of accessing the Throne of God. We do this given the fact that Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross reestablishes the relationship with the Father. It is through that shed blood of the Lamb that we obtain the right accreditation to stand before the Father. Once our entry is attained are we able to present ourselves before Him with our requests.
A prerequisite to come near God is belief. That’s the bottom line. There are two aspects about coming close to God on a regular basis that is important. The first one is that we ought to believe that He exists. The reason? In simple words, you cannot have a personal relationship with someone when you are not even convinced that they might be real. Because you believe that God exists you are presented with two options, either you accept the gift of entering into a personal and close relationship with Him, or you don’t. It is your call. God already did his part by sending his only begotten Son. Once that personal bond is established the lines of communication open.
The second aspect of coming near God is to believe that He will reward your resolution of seeking Him. The action of drawing near God is characterized by doing so with an earnest heart. It means that you are expected to come before God with a sincere heart and an intense conviction that He will surely show, listen, and answer you.
When you, as a believer, come before God with a keen heart and a solid conviction that the only place you could possibly go in the midst of trial is the Father’s Throne then you are able to rest assured knowing that He will reward you by stepping into your situation and coming to your aid. He will honor your heart by bringing a breakthrough amid your circumstances.