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Making the Most of the Struggle

Making the Most of the Struggle

Habakuk 3

3 A prayer of Habakkuk the prophet. On shigionoth.

2 Lord, I have heard of your fame;
I stand in awe of your deeds, Lord.
Repeat them in our day,
in our time make them known;
in wrath remember mercy.
3 God came from Teman,
the Holy One from Mount Paran.
His glory covered the heavens
and his praise filled the earth.
4 His splendor was like the sunrise;
rays flashed from his hand,
where his power was hidden.
5 Plague went before him;
pestilence followed his steps.
6 He stood, and shook the earth;
he looked, and made the nations tremble.
The ancient mountains crumbled
and the age-old hills collapsed—
but he marches on forever.
7 I saw the tents of Cushan in distress,
the dwellings of Midian in anguish.
8 Were you angry with the rivers, Lord?
Was your wrath against the streams?
Did you rage against the sea
when you rode your horses
and your chariots to victory?
9 You uncovered your bow,
you called for many arrows.
You split the earth with rivers;
10 the mountains saw you and writhed.
Torrents of water swept by;
the deep roared
and lifted its waves on high.
11 Sun and moon stood still in the heavens
at the glint of your flying arrows,
at the lightning of your flashing spear.
12 In wrath you strode through the earth
and in anger you threshed the nations.
13 You came out to deliver your people,
to save your anointed one.
You crushed the leader of the land of wickedness,
you stripped him from head to foot.
14 With his own spear you pierced his head
when his warriors stormed out to scatter us,
gloating as though about to devour
the wretched who were in hiding.
15 You trampled the sea with your horses,
churning the great waters.
16 I heard and my heart pounded,
my lips quivered at the sound;
decay crept into my bones,
and my legs trembled.
Yet I will wait patiently for the day of calamity
to come on the nation invading us.
17 Though the fig tree does not bud
and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
and no cattle in the stalls,
18 yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
I will be joyful in God my Savior.
19 The Sovereign Lord is my strength;
he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
he enables me to tread on the heights.

There is a lot of anxiety in our world today.  The political season has created an unusual amount of nervousness and anxiousness in people.  It seems like our country is on edge in a way that I have not seen in a long time.

This book tells us how to deal with evil times.  The prophet has learned that the Babylonian empire is going to crush his country.  He is talking about starvation level social collapse.  And yet Habakuk faces it with poise and patience.  He says it is possible to face that kind of disaster with joy and hope.

In 1851 Allen Gardner was a  missionary stranded on a remote Island on the tip of South America.  In his journal he cited Psalm 34:10. “Young lions do lack and suffer hunger but they that seek the lord shall not lack any good thing.”

His last words in the journal were:

“I am overwhelmed with a sense of the goodness of God”

Ordinarily people say God is good when things are going well- when fig trees are blossoming and things are going well.  But this man found a way to access the goodness of God apart from the circumstances of life.  We infer the goodness but he came in direct contact with it.

How do you do that?

What does it mean to make the most of the struggle?:

1. Determine to rise above your circumstances 

19 The Sovereign Lord is my strength;
he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
he enables me to tread on the heights.

In ancient time the heights was the safest place to be.  IT was somewhat dangerous- but it was the best place to be because you could see what was coming and you could keep out of danger.  It was not always easy to live up in the highest places, but it was the best place to be.  This passage is saying that when we go through struggles that we should allow those things to push us to the heights- to move us to the higher places.

Lesson: Your suffering can either make you better or make you bitter – it is your choice.

2. Focus on the good that comes from the  struggle 

16 I heard and my heart pounded,
my lips quivered at the sound;
decay crept into my bones,
and my legs trembled.
Yet I will wait patiently for the day of calamity
to come on the nation invading us
17 Though the fig tree does not bud
and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
and no cattle in the stalls,
18 yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
I will be joyful in God my Savior.

There is always good that comes from pain and suffering.

2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.  (James 1:3-4)

3. Find your identity in Christ

18 yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
I will be joyful in God my Savior.

To rejoice means more than emotion- it means to treasure.  Habakuk was focusing on the exodus- which was the gospel to him.

What are you rejoicing in?  The reason for your anxiety is that you are rejoicing in the wrong things.  The key to getting through the struggle is to get your identity in Christ.

In Luke 10 the disciples said to Jesus “even the demons are subject to our name!”  Jesus said “rejoice not that the demons are subject to your name but that your names are written in heaven.”

Jesus is saying don’t look at your accomplishments in the world, instead look to the understanding that you are already accepted in heaven.

In the fall, the enemy convinced Adam and Eve that if they ate from the tree they would become “like God”.  He didn’t mean that the fruit had some god-juice in it, he meant that when you disobey God’s word, you are acting as if you know better than God and therefore you are making yourself “like God”.   That is our deepest problem- when we worry we are acting as if we are like God.  When we are bitter and want revenge, we are acting like God.  When we think we are smarter than his word we acting like God.  Our identity is in ourselves and not where it was always meant to be.

In Luke 9:  Mount of Transfiguration.  Moses and Elijah appeared:  “Moses and Jesus were talking about Jesus’ exodus.”

Two men, Moses and Elijah, appeared in glorious splendor, talking with Jesus. 31 They spoke about his exodus, which he was about to bring to fulfillment at Jerusalem. (Luke 9:31)

What does that mean?  The death and resurrection of Jesus was the better exodus and that is what we are to focus on and where we are to get our identity.

Discussion Questions:

  1. What kinds of calamities is Habakuk writing about in this chapter? 
  2. How does trusting God through our suffering make us better?
  3. Why is it important to focus on the good in our struggle?
  4. How does worship help us in our suffering?
  5. How does focusing on the qualities of God help?
  6. Why is it important to have our identity in Christ especially in hard times?









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