November 20, 2016
“Thanks Beyond Circumstances”
Confucius asked his nephew “what did you gain while you worked for the government?” His nephew answered “I have gained nothing, I only lost. First, I had too much work to do so I could not study. Second, I could not care for my relatives for I received so little salary. Third, I was too busy so that I was being isolated from my friends.” Confucius asked the same question to the nephew’s friend who worked the same job. He answered “I lost nothing, but only gained. First, I gained more knowledge by living out what I learned before. Second, I took care for my relatives even though I received little salary. I used it wisely. Third, I was busy but made time to see friends so that we became closer than before.” They worked the same job but one lived a tough and unhappy life while the other lived a happy and pleasant life. It is because their thinking is different. The nephew thought about only what he lost but his friend only what he gained.
Likewise, we must change our thought. If we think about what we lost our entire life will be filled with what we lost only. However, if we think what we gained our entire life, then we will be filled with what we gained. So, we will become unhappy if we think about what we lost. But, we will become happy as much as we think what we gained. The faith of Habakkuk was the same. As we saw in the last two chapters Habakkuk complained to God why He did nothing for the unrighteous people of God. And he asked God why was God going to use Babylon to judge Judah. For Babylon was much more wicked than Judah. Then, he received revelation that God will judge Babylon and make them perished soon. Through the prayer and God’s response he reaffirmed God’s attribute that God works all things only with justice and righteousness. Whatever God does that will be good and beautiful for the creatures. It is because in nature God does not have injustice or unrighteousness in Him. Habakkuk realized this and changed his faith beyond circumstances. This is the message that we will receive. Then, what faith was the faith beyond circumstance? (Pause)
1) He was thankful even in tribulation.
Habakkuk was in extreme fear and trembling due to the invasion of Babylon in near future for he knew how crucial and merciless they were. Nevertheless, he asked God’s mercy and compassion for Judah. And he knew that was the only way of saving more people from the war. He asked God to remember how God saved his ancestors and prayed to God to make such things happen again. Verse 3-15 says how God worked to save the Israelite from exodus to now. Habakkuk remembered what God had did for them 700 years ago. God smote their enemies with plagues, pestilence, earthquake, storm and hail. God pierced, crushed and trampled the leaders of their enemies to save the Israelite. Habakkuk remembered these things and overcame fear and tremble. And he gave thanks to God.
Likewise, we hear and see fearful things every day in our lives. They are coming to us like a storm unpredictably. Also, things about the end time that Jesus said are happening all over the world every day. Think about how many things we saw and faced in our lives in the last year. In those fearful moment, we were able to live safely for God protected and saved us. So, every time we face storms in our lives first things we need to do is to ask God to save us. Habakkuk said that God people will never perish for God always saves His people. Ask God to save us when we are in tribulation and entrust all circumstance to Him. And, give thanks to God in all circumstances then God will make those good for us. Then, what faith was the faith beyond circumstance? (Pause)
2) He was thankful when he had nothing.
Habakkuk knew the land of Judah would become completely desolate when Babylon invaded the land. Then he would lose everything including a minimum daily food to survive. In such a miserable circumstance, he thanked God. That was because his faith he did not lose the hope in God and he did not fear if God is with him. When we have this faith, we can thank God even though we have nothing. Otherwise we will not thank God no matter how much good and valuable things we have. We must put our value in eternal things. Then our life itself will be grateful and thankful. We will have time that we gain things in the world but we will have other time that we lose them again. There will be time that everything goes well but other times that everything goes wrong. But these things are temporary and God will recover all things someday. Habakkuk asked God to revive Judah. To revive means to restore life. Judah nearly had no life but only God can restore their disappearing life. Habakkuk knew this and asked God. Likewise, our life is the same. If God intervenes in our lives and use His strength every hopeless circumstance will be restored. I had many such experiences in my life and I believe so did you. So, we must not thank God by seeing a circumstance but we must thank God beyond circumstances. Give thanks to God when we have nothing to thank about and that is real thanks that pleases God. Then, what faith was the faith beyond circumstance? (Pause)
3) He was thankful for salvation.
Habakkuk knew God who always delivers His people. One of images of God to Israel is the God of deliverance. They remembered how many times God delivered them, the nation, the leaders and the land from enemies. How did God deliver them? God delivered with His strength. Habakkuk confessed “the Sovereign LORD is my strength”. The Sovereign God means that God uses His absolute power to rule the universe and creatures in that. And no creatures have that power. God’s power has no limit and is called the omnipotent power. Habakkuk knew with that power God will deliver Judah. Then, he said that God will save him from a man like fish and creatures in the sea to a man like a deer that lives in high places. By God’s deliverance his status changed to a different dimension. His status changed from an unclean creature to a deer.
If we think about a deer, we can think some special characteristics. A deer has a long legs and small feet but its ankle is very strong so it can jump far. And, it is faster and can run 50 miles an hour. Also, it goes around only high places. These characteristics tells about the nature of God’s people. God’s people are powerless but have the strength of God. God’s people live with the hope in God and with looking the above. God’s people live in the place where dimension is higher and different from the world. Habakkuk lived like a deer in high place as if it overcame all fearful things in the world. Then, he thanked God who delivered him. He thanked God for His salvation in past, present, and future. God will save us in this world and next world to come. Thank God who will save us now and to the end. Amen (Pause)