Today’s Scriptures: Lectionary selections from the Book of Common Prayer
Psalm 66, 67, 19, 46
Habakkuk 1:1 – 2:1
How do we respond when things do not go our way?
The news about the fall of the CIA chief over the past week has fascinated me. The way such a powerful man could be driven to disgrace by actions that started off with nothing to do with him. As the intrigue grew, so did the circle of connections. A bizarre threatening email by a jealous woman leads to the downfall of some of the most powerful men on earth. The prophet Habakkuk saw the power threatening the Jews and could not imagine anything overcoming the invading hoards. We know the outcome and we know the power of God to overcome in overwhelming situations, but when the situation happens with us, we still wonder.
Habakkuk uses the most powerful language he can – referring to fearsome beasts from nature to describe the threatening forces. Putting them all together gave the sense that there was no way to stand against them and the invasion doomed Israel to utter destruction. He begged God to explain how he could stand back and let that happen. He focused on the present time and experience of the people while acknowledging the eternity of God.
The Philippians passage looks toward the future. The author encourages us to look forward to understanding more than we can possibly grasp in the now. He goes on to explain the nature of heaven and our eternal status. In contrast to the impending doom of Habakkuk, the Philippians receive a vision of the glorious victory promised to believers.
The two passages frame the options we have in facing adversity. We can focus on the now and be overwhelmed by the circumstances around us or we can focus on the future based on the knowledge we have through faith. Finding the bright side during the darkest times seems an impossible challenge, but scripture gives us the example and repeatedly describes the outcomes we will someday see. With the examples of those who came before us and the hope for our own future, the positive is much easier to find.
Let us have the vision of focus on the future and keep our minds clear of the clutter that comes with our present circumstance.