How long? That is a popular question these days. How long will the virus infect? How long before doors reopen? How long will it take to rebuild? During unsettled times, people in every generation have asked God: “How long, O Lord, will you look on?” (Psalm 35:17).
God rarely answers as we wish. Jesus said, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority” (Acts 1:7). Instead of a timetable, God responds by telling us to trust and wait for His sovereign plan. For an example of what trusting and waiting looks like, let me draw your attention to Habakkuk. His example is helpful because “whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope” (Romans 15:4).
Habakkuk was a prophet during the days of King Josiah. God would give him a message for the people, and he would speak it to them. One day, while cleaning the temple, the priests found God’s law and read it to Josiah. God’s Word so moved his heart that He led the nation to repent, and revival broke out. Josiah then tragically died in battle, and his sons led the people back into wickedness. This turn of events proved to be a tipping point for Habakkuk.
Habakkuk prayed, “How long shall I cry for help, and you not hear…why do you idly look at wrong?” (Habakkuk 1:2-3). God answered, “I’m not idle. I am doing something you will struggle to believe. I am raising up the Chaldeans, who will conquer my people.” Habakkuk erupted. “Are you not from everlasting…you who are of purer eyes than to see evil?” (Habakkuk 1:12-13). In other words, “How can you, being holy, use a people, world-renowned for evil, to sort out sin in your people?” “I will take my stand at my post…and look out to see what he will say” (Habakkuk 2:1). God responds with one of the most important truths in the Bible. “If it seems slow, wait for it…the righteous shall live by his faith” (Habakkuk 2:3-4). In other words, God said, “I know it’s hard, but trust me. For I credit righteousness to every heart who has faith in me. After I use the Chaldeans to sort out the wickedness in my people, I assure you that I will fully sort out their wickedness.”
The Response & Reward
Habakkuk chose to trust and wait. After recounting moments in history when God moved during difficulty to right what was wrong, Habakkuk wrote, “Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. God, the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like the deer’s; he makes me tread on my high places” (Habakkuk 3:17-19). High places are dangerous. One fall can be fatal. But if we are sure-footed, like a deer, heights provide perspective. This is the reward! For those who will trust and wait, God will steady our feet and give us perspective in the storm.
Here we are in the middle of a pandemic. Every day more people are infected, more doors close, more columns of securities shaken, and more freedoms lost. How shall we respond?
Let’s transfer worry into prayer.
Your prayers don’t have to be sterilized from fear or frustration. Habakkuk’s anxiety restrained some of his adoration, and his theology restrained his rebellion. He believed God to be good, holy, and just. We don’t have to understand everything, or like everything, for our face still to be turned toward God. Just pray.
Let’s stand at our post.
Whatever God told you to do when His voice felt clear, keep doing when His voice seems dim. Don’t leave your Bible, your spouse, your family, your commitments, or your community. “Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness” (Psalm 37:3). When you are afraid, keep standing at your post.
Let’s keep rejoicing in the Lord.
It is hard to sing when we are sad, but music is medicine for the soul. Each time panic re-surfaces, remember the Lord; play or sing another song.
Let’s place our faith in Jesus.
Whenever God allows a crisis, there is always a redemptive purpose behind it. There is a far greater threat facing us than a virus or a recession. We have all sinned against God, acting as if He were irrelevant. Sin is like a virus that spreads and kills. God takes sin personally. His wrath is real, but so is His mercy. God sent Jesus to absorb His wrath for us. Jesus is the ultimate example of God’s ability to bring ultimate good out of ultimate evil. Jesus died, was buried, and rose from the dead! If you place your faith in Jesus, He will forgive you and be with you to steady your feet in the storm. Trust Him today!