Ours is Endurance and Faith

“When we live in a world of violence long enough, it is easy to adopt violent means ourselves, especially when we know that our cause is righteous and the opposition is evil. Religious faith, especially when zealous, is no stranger to the exercise of violent force. And so St. John, having set down his counsel to endure, yokes it with a warning to not defect into violence. That would be just as bad as defecting into cowardly compliance. Had not Jesus, in as violent a scene as any of us will find ourselves, said, ‘Put your sword back into its place; for all who take the sword will perish by the sword’? (Matt. 26:52). Killing the opposition is the sea beast’s [Revelation 13:1-10] way of solving its problems. It is not ours. Our is endurance and faith.

“This combination, endurance and faith, is not dumb passivity … The Christ-followers had learned something profound about sacrifice and death: endurance and faith are aggressive forces in the battle raging between God and the devil. It requires high energy to meet the sword with willed suffering, with embraced sacrifice.”

(Eugene Peterson, Reversed Thunder, p. 125)

Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash

Faith in Times of Pandemic

Habakkuk 3:16-19 ESV

[16] I hear, and my body trembles; my lips quiver at the sound; rottenness enters into my bones; my legs tremble beneath me. Yet I will quietly wait for the day of trouble to come upon people who invade us. [17] 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, [18] yet I will rejoice in the LORD; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. [19] GOD, the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like the deer’s; he makes me tread on my high places. To the choirmaster: with stringed instruments.

INTRODUCTION

The theme here is: From Fear to Faith especially in times of great crisis. Habakkuk was complaining about God’s indifference to the wickedness of God’s covenant people (1:2-4) only to be shocked that God was not indifferent at all, but was in fact preparing the Chaldeans to punish his people (1:12) This led him to complain again. He questions God’s justice in using instruments of judgment more wicked than the people God intends to punish (1:13). God bluntly tells Habakkuk to trust him (2:4) and he reveals that after he has used the Chaldeans or Babylonians to punish his people, he will in turn punish them too (2:16). Although he trembles with fear over the coming judgment, Habakkuk rejoices in God, trusting that God will not only deal justly but will work out salvation in the end.

I. RECOGNIZE GOD’S SOVEREIGNTY (1:12)

God is not the author of sin (James 1:13) but he is its governor. Nothing can happen without his permission.

Isaiah 45:7 ESV

[7] I form light and create darkness; I make well-being and create calamity; I am the LORD, who does all these things.

Believe it or not, this is actually an encouraging truth and much to be preferred over the idea that calamities are random events that God neither foresees nor controls. If God is in control, even if we don’t understand why he allows such things to happen, we trust that his wisdom and love will never allow these things to happen in the first place unless some great good were to come out of all this.

Thus, even this pandemic was at least allowed by him for wise and holy reasons.

Habakkuk 3:5 ESV

[5] Before him went pestilence, and plague followed at his heels.

II. REVERE GOD’S HOLINESS

Habakkuk not only complained about what he thought was God’s indifference, he also questioned God’s justice or holiness. When bad things happen, our tendency is to ask Why, O Lord (1:3, 13)? We question God’s justice. God explained to Habakkuk the righteousness of his ways: he would punish his people, he would also punish the Babylonians. But at the outset, he simply told Habakkuk to trust him (2:4). Often the proper response to the incomprehensible tragedies of life is simply to be still and know that God is God.

Habakkuk 2:20 ESV

[20] But the LORD is in his holy temple; let all the earth keep silence before him.”

God knows what he is doing even if we don’t.

III. REJOICE IN GOD’S SALVATION

So even though Habakkuk didn’t understand how God could allow such a calamity to befall his people he simply put his trust in God. Thus, he was able to rejoice even in the midst of calamity (e.g., famine) because he knew God would produce salvation out of all this (Rom. 8:28).

Habakkuk 3:12-13 ESV

[12] You marched through the earth in fury; you threshed the nations in anger. [13] You went out for the salvation of your people, for the salvation of your anointed. You crushed the head of the house of the wicked, laying him bare from thigh to neck. Selah

I believe one reason why God allowed this pandemic is so that people all over the world will remember him and find salvation.

Habakkuk 2:14 ESV

[14] For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD as the waters cover the sea.

During this time of pandemic, so many online bible studies via Zoom have sprouted all over the world. So many prayers and Bible verses are posted on FB as never before.

CONCLUSION

It is interesting that Paul makes use of Hab. 2:4 in relation to God’s righteousness in justifying sinners. God is just in justifying sinners who have put their faith in Jesus because Jesus satisfied God’s justice when he died for their sins. The great calamity which was the death of the Savior became the cause of great joy because of the salvation which his death produced, a salvation received by faith and not by works. That is why in times of pandemic let us overcome fear with faith. God is in control, he knows what he is doing. He is sovereign and holy. And he will produce salvation in the end. In wrath, he is actually remembering mercy. Trust him and rejoice!

(Photo by Mika Baumeister on Unsplash)

The Comfort of Faith in God’s Power

Faith is comforted twice over in relation to God’s power. First, because it knows that he has ample ability to do good. Thus, in order to further the salvation of believers he puts forth his hand to rule and govern all things; heaven and earth are his possession and domain, and every creature depends on his goodwill. Faith is comforted in the second place because it finds ample assurance in his protection, since whatever might do harm is subject to his will, and the devil and his devices are restrained as by a curb. Everything, in short, which might impede our salvation is subject to his control.

– John Calvin

Faith is Refusing to Worry

…a large part of faith…consists of just refusing anxious thoughts…refusing to think about worrying things, refusing to think of the future in that wrong sense… [Having] faith means that I shall say: ‘No; I refuse to be worried. I have done my reasonable service; I have done what I believed to be right and legitimate, and beyond that I will not think at all’… When the devil comes with his insinuations, injecting them into you – all the fiery darts of the evil one – say, ‘No; I am not interested. The God whom I am trusting for today, I will trust for tomorrow. I refuse to listen; I will not think your thoughts.’ Faith is refusing to be burdened because we have cast our burden upon the Lord.

— D. M. Lloyd Jones, Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, ii, pp. 156-7

Three Kinds of Faith

TEXT: James 2:14–26

[14] What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? [15] If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, [16] and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? [17] So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.

[18] But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. [19] You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder! [20] Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless? [21] Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar? [22] You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works; [23] and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”—and he was called a friend of God. [24] You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. [25] And in the same way was not also Rahab the prostitute justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way? [26] For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead. (ESV)

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My Times Are In Your Hands

“But I trust in you, O Lord; I say, ‘You are my God.’ My times are in your hands.” (Psalm 31:14-15)

Faith is a commitment in the context of relationship. It is the response of intimacy, issuing or arising from the sense or realization that that relationship has been in place all along, from the very beginning. From my youth up – even from my mother’s womb – I have been protected, guided, cared for. “My times are in your hands!” Why are my times not absolutely chaotic, such as we would expect from an absolutely godless world? The forces of chaos do not reign supreme; they are held in check. His hands are there caring for the flowers of the field and the birds of the air. My times are my times – a bit of meaningful history, even if not completely comprehensible – because his hands are there: He is there, and my times are in his hands.