Confident Hope: Terrifying Fear
The prophet Habakkuk saw a time when what looked like a disaster would come. It is easy to identify with his feelings of fear and uncertainty. It is possible also to identify with his confidence. Confidence that God was still in control of everything. Listen to Habakkuk:
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.
Habakkuk 3:16-18 (NIV)
The disaster was real. It was terrible. And Habakkuk and his people could not control it.
We also know that we are not in charge of things. Even the most powerful governments cannot control everything. Listen to Jesus’ brother:
“Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil. “ (Jam 4.13)
So many of our securities and hopes are being undermined. Not only our health but our wealth too. For many this is very scary. It has brought us to a place of great insecurity. Isn’t God good!
Knowing that we are insecure, and that our own organising is fragile and shaking, and in some cases destroyed, - that knowledge is a great gift. Because people who know they are in need can ask for help.
We can come to our senses and recognise (before it is to late) that God is the Lord. That Jesus is the ruler of the heavens and the earth. And we can turn to him. Change our mind about him. Submit our lives to him. Trust him with our lives, and ambitions, and hopes, and money and health, and death.
Are you worried, anxious? Unsure of how things will turn out. Agonising for friends or relatives who seem to be in more danger than you?
Listen to the Psalmist. Read and listen and pray.
This is Psalm 46 (NIV)
God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
3 though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake with their surging.
4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy place where the Most High dwells.
5 God is within her, she will not fall;
God will help her at break of day.
6 Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall;
he lifts his voice, the earth melts.
7 The Lord Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.
8 Come and see what the Lord has done,
the desolations he has brought on the earth.
9 He makes wars cease
to the ends of the earth.
He breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
he burns the shields with fire.
10 He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.”
11 The Lord Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.
We are a people of faith and hope, because we serve a God who is good and faithful.