You know those moments you look back on part(s) of your life, whether it be a few years or a few months ago, where you both grimace in remembering the pain and guilt but where you see the beautiful, awesome, faithfulness and grace of the Spirit working in you and through that time?
I don’t know about you, but those are the moments that both humble me (because I see the Trinity at its strongest when I am at my weakest) and cause me to rejoice.
Reminds me of when God gives Paul a “thorn in the flesh.” After begging the Lord three times to remove it, He gently tells Paul that He is disciplining him and inflicting this pain on him because He loves him THAT much – He is keen to have Paul near to him. We lean most heavily on Christ when we realize how weak and inadequate we are in ourselves. Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 12:10, “For the sake of Christ then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
WOW! Ok, how many of us can honestly say we’ve got that mindset perfected? Yeah, thought so. Our hardships are microscopic compared to his. We live in America, people. We’re not even persecuted. I feel more than a little pathetic right now.
The Apostle Paul blows my mind all the time. He is this incredible, Spirit-filled, untouchable man. No matter what came at him, he never wavered. Think about it. He was thrown in jail and he just sang praises to God loudly and converted the whole place. Paul was shipwrecked and after surviving the shipwreck was bitten by a snake while preaching to a crowd of people. He had to be like, “COME ON! Seriously, God?!”
But don’t you see how Christ is made much of and glorified as He is shaping us by our pain and hurt for our eternal good?! How great is His love towards undeserving wretches like you and me.
Yet I marvel and am repulsed at my own heart when in the midst of a dark time of hurt when all shreds of hope seem bleak that I once again doubt or am tempted to doubt the sovereignty of Christ. Those are the moments where I have to look back and remember and rejoice. He is my Rock and Fortress (Psalm 16 – read it!). His Word (Truth) is my solid foundation and sword. “For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, not things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” – Romans 8:38-39
Ok, so that was just me leading up to telling you that all of what I shared above was prompted by Matt Chandler’s message on Habakkuk 3:4-16 this past Saturday night. These are also thoughts that have been rolling about and festering in my mind and heart.
Side note: I would strongly encourage you to listen to his Habakkuk series.
As a writer, you quickly realize writing is not only an art form but that words have rhythm. Sorry, music, you’re not THAT special.
Which is why, when Chandler mentioned how the book of Habakkuk had a gospel rhythm to it, a Shakespearean moment happened where I felt totally attuned and the text was made even richer because this was my lingo. I gained a whole new level of understanding and appreciation for the text. I got giddy as I praised God for revealing this to my heart.
Yes, ok, I know you’re not truly following me because you have no idea where I’m going with this – ok – bringing it home here – random Rachel moment. Bear with me.
The gospel rhythm of Habakkuk is REMEMBER and REJOICE in all circumstances. Three components of that are remember and rejoice that:
1) God saved you. (Romans 8:28-30; Ephesians 2:4-9)
2) God is sovereign over all things.
3) God started this and He will most definitely finish it. (Phil. 1:6)
You really have to read all of Habakkuk to truly appreciate the message and to get the proper context. Earlier in Habakkuk, God told him that He was going to discipline the Israelites but pour out His wrath on the Chaldeans; two different things entirely. Habakkuk was singing and rejoicing and remembering God’s faithfulness to His people from Moses to Joshua to Gideon to David. How God was made much of and His glory made manifest.
I want to close merely by saying that I pray that you and I will remember and rejoice even when it appears all hope is lost or we don’t understand why God allows certain things to happen in our lives. Remember that being a Christian doesn’t mean you’re free from tribulations, storms or pain. No, instead you should rejoice and find hope in that because it means the Holy Spirit is at work in you and that He loves you. What parent who loves their child doesn’t disciplines them? As Matt Chandler is fond of saying: “Discipline is a vision for the future that enacts things today.”
This all ties into my blog on Time: So That Everything Doesn’t Happen at Once.
Love you all!
Rachel B. Duke