Below is a transcript of a part of a sermon that I preached today at Rio Rancho UMC.
There are times in life where everything appears to be going wrong.
It seems that each way we turn we discover yet another obstacle.
Feelings of being overwhelmed and submerged in a sea of discontent overtake us and threaten our joy. We feel hopeless.
When one has a child with a medical issue, in my families’ case it was hemophilia, the rug seems to be pulled out from under the family.
The diagnosis came as a complete shock.
My wife and I felt like our world had been taken out from under us.
What was supposed to be a happy event, changed into something that was, at first, catastrophic.
The only place that we could turn was to God.
It was with that diagnosis in mind that I first read this prayer from Habakkuk.
Its words were very powerful to me as I began to find hope in the midst of chaos.
I took Habakkuk’s example and claimed strength in the time of trial as the ultimate place for comfort and reassurance was found in God.
The prophet Habakkuk identifies what it was like to live in a world where joy did not appear to be present.
Habakkuk’s world was about to experience a social and cultural revolution that would rock its very foundation.
There was political unrest as the Southern Kingdom was about to be conquered by the Babylonians. Habakkuk prophesied this dangerous message of change, but yet there was still civil disobedience to the teachings of God.
It was as if the Covenant was snapped and broken.
This passage is a beautiful prayer which reinforces the steadiness of God.
Judah would face destruction if its economic resources no longer existed.
Even though damage would occur if everything that provided sustenance were to vanish, Habakkuk still pledged his devotion to God.
Habakkuk claimed victory over destruction because of God’s promise to give him strength in the midst of trials.
This prayer is a reminder of God’s deliverance in the past.
Our devotion to God in the present.
And our continued hope that while bad things will come, God promises that if we continue in our faith, God will deliver us through the hard times.
We know what life is like in a sea of unrest.
We have all had our Habakkuk moments when the trials of life became so great that we could not see the good in anything.
Life becomes overwhelming to say the very least.
Sometimes chaos reigns supreme, and we look for any way we can to find shelter as the storm rages all around us.
We are in the center of a real test of our faith.
We question the God of our understanding.
“Why all of this at once? Why me? Why won’t my life just calm down for at least a few days?”
Habakkuk makes a claim that, although everything around him is destroyed and he has no support, he will continue to praise God.
The prophet reminds us to hold on to your faith in the middle of a storm.
The good news is that storms pass.
Chaos gives way to peace.
The most important thing is that the God who provides strength in the time of joy will also provide support in the struggles of life.
We are to remain consistent in our devotion to God.
Whatever happens, our faith is to be unwavering.
Our devotion is to continue through the worst times of our pain.
Even when we can’t see God’s work in the world around us that does not mean that faith is dead.
On the contrary, God’s handiwork is still amazingly alive and vital.
This vitality of redemption is what carries us through the rough times of doubt or tragedy.
The promise of hope is a very powerful thing.
It comes to us in those moments that we feel hopeless.
There is not sign that we will ever know happiness.
It is in those moments of utter blackness that there is a candle that pierces through the darkness.
What is a little glimmer can become an enormous light that embraces us and warms us.
What was once a heart of despair becomes a spirit of joy.
There is something that we don’t talk about very much in the United Methodist Church.
To some, please forgive me if this sounds like a dirty word.
You can close your ears if you are offended.
I am talking about the word revival.
This word, revival, has so many connotations in it that call back to the prayer of Habakkuk.
Notice that the prefix of the word is re.
These two little letters assume that something existed in the past.
In the present, we are to share a renewal of hope.
We are to call for it to come back.
Return us to that place which God so wonderfully called to us.
To be refreshed in our faith, we must be willing to allow God to lead us.
Our willingness comes from the hope that we have in God.
It is plain and straightforward.
God loved us in the past, we call on God in the present, and God will restore us in the future.
We must remember that delivery sometimes comes in ways that we least expect it to come to us.
There is no cookie cutter way to experience delivery.
Delivery to some may not be delivery to others.
We are to show up and serve and let God begin to work the Divine’s power in us.
God moves us to our individual freedoms.
Let us claim the truth of our faith of which the writer of Hebrews spoke. “God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you’” (Heb. 13:5).
God’s faithfulness is steadfast and sure.
Why should our faith in God be any different?
Let us remain faithful and hopeful as we continue on our journey towards perfection.
I hope that I can be like Habakkuk in those very tough times.
I hope that I can look out over what may be perceived as destruction and remember that the one who created beauty out of chaos promised that I would be kept safe.
Habakkuk also reminds me to stop focusing on my problems and turn my eyes towards God.
It is when I focus on the presence of the Divine in my life that I remember that I have hope in the middle of darkness.
It is through God that I can pull myself out of a bad situation and rely on the spiritual strength given by God.
I will run with power as I have never had before.
Strength in the middle of a crisis is what this psalm to God claims.
I ask you now, where do you draw your strength?
Hope springs from the very foundation of who we are.
I believe that the well-spring of hope is the place where God dwells within us.
That life-giving water is anxious to run free through your soul and out of you.
It is designed to draw strength in the time of chaos.
Let hope truly spring eternal.
Years have come and gone since we first heard the diagnosis of hemophilia.
We no longer look at the diagnosis as catastrophic, but we find strength in the blessings as a result of these incredible lives coming into our world.
Yes we have needles in our house, and yes we have a medical closet that could rival some small hospitals, but we have our sons who were our gifts in the middle of a devastating storm.
Let us keep this prayer of this relatively unknown prophet to heart.
We give thanks for what God has done for us.
We rejoice for what God does within us.
We place our care in what God will do for us.
This is the necessary seed of our faith.
This is where the rubber meets the road.
Let hope spring so that the world may know the salvation of our God.