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How Long?

Web posted on December 02, 2017

Hey Jude!

A guest column by Pastor G. Joel Jongkind.

I have to be honest with you: I am not very familiar with the book of Habakkuk. I have never used it as the basis for a sermon or a spiritual talk. But one morning, the devotional booklet that we use had the first part of his writings as the passage to read, and I became interested in the prophet's book.

The introduction to this book in my copy of the New King James Version says: "Habakkuk ministers during the 'death throes' of the nation of Judah. Although repeatedly called to repentance, the nation stubbornly refuses to change her sinful ways and Habakkuk asks how long this intolerable situation can continue."

I learned that part of the book is a dialogue between Habakkuk and God:

"O Lord, how long shall I cry, and You will not hear? Even cry out to You, 'Violence!' and You will not save. Why do You show me iniquity, and cause me to see trouble? For plundering and violence are before me; there is strife, and contention arises. Therefore the law is powerless, and justice never goes forth. For the wicked surround the righteous; therefore perverse judgment proceeds." (Habakkuk 1:2-4 NKJV)

We were struck by the similarities between that time and the present. All of us who read the paper or watch the news on television are witnesses to the terrible things which are happening in the world. Through social media, news from all over is brought into our living rooms almost as soon as it happens, and quite often, we despair. There are wars and rumours of wars; there are thousands of displaced persons in so many different areas, some because of wars and persecutions, others because of natural disasters. We talk about it and we pray about it, but it seems to get worse instead of better, and we wonder how long this can go on.

Habakkuk felt the same way, but after the long dialogue with God, he realized that regardless of how hopeless the situation seemed to be, or whatever happened, the Lord was still with him:

"Though the fig tree may not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines; though the labor of the olive may fail, and the fields yield no food; though the flock may be cut off from the fold, and there be no herd in the stalls yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation. The Lord God is my strength; He will make my feet like deer's feet, and He will make me walk on my high hills." (Habakkuk 3:17-19 NKJV)

We are assured through faith that God is with us. In all our problems, let us come to Jesus, and He will hear our prayers.

Prayer: Our Father in heaven, there are times when we despair about all the terrible things which are happening in the world today. We pray, Lord, that You will speak to those who have the ability and the power to change things and also that You will comfort those who are suffering. In the midst of temptation to despair, strengthen our faith. We ask it in Jesus' name. Amen.

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Copyright 2017 by G. Joel Jongkind.

Reproduced by permission from the PresbyCan Daily Devotional, www.presbycan.ca.

Today's guest columnist, G. Joel Jongkind, is a lay pastor of the Presbyterian Church of Canada, ministering in Meaford ON, and a regular contributor to their daily devotional website. Check out the website any day at www.presbycan.ca, and if you like it you can subscribe for a daily feed to your in-box.
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