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Week 1 February 2023, Devotion Part 1

Look among the nations, and see; wonder and be astounded. For I am doing a work in your days that you would not believe if told. Habakkuk 1:5


The prophet had asked God some hard questions and this is the enigmatic answer He gave him. Reading between the lines, do we glimpse hope or havoc? Our society reels from dysfunction and we can no longer pin our hopes on elected leaders. The Psalmist warned ages ago, “Put not your trust in princes, in a son of man, in whom there is no help…Happy is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the LORD his God…who keeps faith forever; who executes justice for the oppressed; who gives food to the hungry” (Psalm 146:3-7).


This is precisely the God with whom Habakkuk had begun to dialog. He had to ask the hard questions, lest he bury them in his heart and cause it to grow hard. “The righteous shall live by his faith,” the Spirit whispered. It warns the self-righteous not to live by their tiff, trafficking in derision and disrespect. Habakkuk posted himself before his holy God – not in a polarizing public forum – and asked, “O LORD, how long shall I cry for help, and thou wilt not hear? Or cry to thee ‘Violence!’ and thou wilt not save? Why dost thou make me see wrongs and look upon trouble? Destruction and violence are before me; strife and contention arise. So the law is slacked and justice never goes forth. For the wicked surround the righteous, so justice goes forth perverted.” (Part 1 of 2)

Comment: At age 16 I was privileged to attend a remarkable Christian school in French-speaking Switzerland to become fully bilingual, but also proficient in running a household and growing a garden. English literature-hour and laundry-day were in the mix. I was in my glory when a gifted friend played Chopin for me on the piano located in the washhouse. In turn, I shared my love of God’s Word with her. For reasons long forgotten, she nicknamed me Habakkuk. As for the nations to be looked at then, a joke making the rounds in 1951 might yield a clue: “The European optimist learns English; the pessimist learns Russian; the realist learns Chinese”. Today, many more people speak English, but Ukraine, North Korea, and Afghanistan were not among the nations on our radar then. When a biblical spokesman for God wants us to “wonder and be astounded”, it may – gasp – signal that a “Chaldean” cure is appointed for our ills. Take the disgruntled voter who circulated this invective on the Internet last summer: “AN ARROGANT LOSER – NOT sent by God; NOT a prophet; NOT the chosen one; NOT even a Christian. Just a lying reality TV con man…Just a Garden Variety Criminal.” So, some might not really care who today’s “Chaldeans” could turn out to be, just as long as they come in to take out any thing or person posing a threat to their prized idea of the American dream. But what if God sovereignly allows them to move in for a chapter in U.S. history no one could have ever imagined? The neutral Swiss in me just wants to roll her eyes or worse, indulge her fleshly urge to mutter a generic “idiot” in 3 languages, all spelled the same - “no no no.” What then, the credible Christ-follower asks, might the Holy Spirit be whispering to our inner Habakkuk? “But this is the one I esteem; the one who is humble and contrite in spirit, and trembles at My word” (Isaiah 62:2).

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