Writing this post has been on my calendar…long before the recent outburst of the coronavirus swept across the world. While I meant for it to apply to any situation where you find yourself waiting for God’s divine intervention, I’d certainly say it applies to the seemingly frozen hands of time while the world is being quarantined and waiting for the coronavirus to fade away.
Whether your worries are fixed on the coronavirus or other things you’ve prayed about and are still awaiting a response…the underlying issue is keeping faith during the wait.
So what does that kind of faith look like?
Hebrews 11:1 describes faith as “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” The rest of that chapter in Hebrews is commonly known as the faith “hall of fame” and narrates some examples of those who walked in great faith.
Many of them had to wait, just like you and me, and some of them died before seeing the promises of God fulfilled. Oh, don’t be alarmed! The promises did get fulfilled…just in the appointed time.
Faith Pleases God
You will learn from the faith hall of fame and Hebrews 11:6 that faith pleases God. Faith in Him, to be exact. In fact, it says that it is impossible to please God without it. With this faith, you will also learn that He rewards “those who diligently seek Him.” God is pleased by your intentional pursuit to have a relationship with Him…and believing Him at His word.
With this childlike faith, let’s look at His Word and explore what it looks like to run the great race of faith.
A Weight in The Great Race
Using the metaphor that life is a race, the writer of Hebrews illustrates in Hebrews 12:1 that we are to “lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.”
Obviously, a runner can cover more ground if he’s not toting a bag of weights. But you ask, “What exactly are the weights?” Well, that may look different for every person. What is weighing you down at the moment? Is it a worry? Is it bad habit? A poor attitude?
The writer seems to put a double emphasis on the things that hinder your race. First, he addresses the unnecessary weight you may be carrying, but then he also addresses “the sin” that you need to get rid of. Are the unnecessary weights and the sin the same thing? Maybe…maybe not. I don’t know about you, but “the sin” that so easily traps me is fear! Yes, that is the one. And I’m sure for you as well, identifying the one is easy to do.
Your weights and temptation to sin may look different from mine, but the point is that we are to identify what that sin is and deal with it by releasing it to God in faith. Trust that he can and will deal with your heavy burden!
I know you can’t see how He will do that…or when…but if we could see it, touch it, hear it, etc. then it wouldn’t be called faith. Have faith with all the unknowns that a holy, loving, and capable God will do what’s best for you.
Once you drop the extra baggage, you will be able to run your race with endurance and faith that pleases God.
A Wait for the Perfect Time
Just drop the baggage and run the race…that simple, right?
You may be asking that question if your race seems longer than anticipated…like you signed-up for a 5k but surprisingly it’s more like running a grueling marathon in flip-flops with no cheerleaders on the sideline or refreshing shots of Gatorade at your disposal …and you have no idea where the finish line is? What if your knees begin to wobble and you’re really beginning to suck wind? Rest assured, you are not the only weary runner! Many have found themselves in the same situation!
Similar to the book of Hebrews, the book of Habakkuk also reinforces the importance of faith, especially in uncertain times and while waiting on an answer from God.
In Habakkuk 1:2 the prophet Habakkuk was overwhelmed and impatient with his struggle until he finally cried out to God, “How long?”
Can you identify with the prophet and his impatience? I can! If ever given a chance to hit the fast-forward button on my struggle, I’ll surely do it every single time! I mean, who likes to struggle? Who likes to wait? Seriously, I get grumpy and give the stink-eye for just spending a few extra minutes in the fast-food line! You bet I’ll hit fast-forward!
Despite our impatience, we know from Isaiah 55:8-9 that God is infinitely bigger than our human brains can comprehend. His thoughts and ways are much bigger than ours. We have to remember this when we consider that God allows certain things to happen. Just as important, we have to remember that He allows them to happen at a certain time.
After the prophet asked, “How long,” God responded in Habakkuk 1:5 by telling him to look, to watch, and to be astounded.
You’ll see that God basically told Habakkuk the same thing He told Isaiah, that He was divinely working on something much bigger than man could imagine. God knew that Habakkuk wouldn’t understand the reason for the wait if God literally drew a picture or spelled it out for him.
Have you ever seen Indian hieroglyphics? I have, and I had no clue what I was looking at! I’ve also seen the movie A Few Good Men and recall Jack Nicholson telling Tom Cruise that he couldn’t handle the truth. Yes, I reference those jokingly, but on a more serious note I’m sure there’s lots of things we couldn’t handle, or understand, if it were fully revealed to us.
Yes, God could give us a sketch or point-blank tell us what He’s doing…but there are some things He chooses not to disclose to us until the time is right…until He is ready. He is holy God, and the choice is His.
We work with what we’ve got and stick to what God told the prophet in Habakkuk 2:3… to continue waiting for the appointed time, and while waiting, “live by his faith.” (Habakkuk 2:4)
But, how? How is faith lived out while we wait for God?
Answers to the Test
We know that Habakkuk questioned God, “How long?” Habakkuk was frustrated. He knew God’s goodness and holiness, but he couldn’t pair that with how and why God seemed to let the wicked prevail. Do you wrestle with similar questions as there appears to be an imbalance with it all?
I can speak from my own experience with these questions, and what I eventually realized is that there is no imbalance. God is the perfect giver of faith, and faith is the key to enduring heavy circumstances. All the other questions have lesser importance because God is God. And I am not.
Seldom have I had the sense to make these connections while eye-ball deep in despair, but now I know. Now, I can stand confidently in current and future trials knowing that He loves me, He protects me, His divine purposes are at hand…and I won’t drown even though it seems the water is about to take over.
Please be at ease; the same assurances apply to you too!
Remember God often gives us the answers prior to the test? One of the clues is in Habakkuk 2:2 and is given before we are instructed to live by faith. For me, this clue helps tie it all together especially as we analyze the elements of our faith with a race metaphor. In this verse, the prophet was told to plainly record the vision (in writing)…the one set for an appointed time… so that “he may run who reads it.”
Unlike the old prophets, we have the Bible in writing…in its completion…to use as our guide. We have the recorded visions…the VICTORIOUS ENDING…so we can run through our trials with endurance and speed. What a gift!
Maybe you feel like Habakkuk and are struggling with the chaos and evil that surrounds. I encourage you to look at the prayer at the end of his book…it’s another clue to help you pass your test.
Habakkuk stated that even though many things seemed to be grim or failing, “I will joy in the God of my salvation. The Lord God is my strength; He will make my feet like deer’s feet, and He will make me walk on my high hills.” (Habakkuk 3:17-19)
Don’t miss the clue! God is the source of strength and perfecter of faith.
As a rural Mississippi resident, I see deer all the time. I know one thing is true; if I had to race a deer I’d lose! Admittedly, I’ve tried and they’re fast! Again, don’t miss the fact that God not only gives you strength to endure your race, but He also makes your feet like that of a deer. Deer run swiftly and without heavy baggage! That’s the kind of race you were meant to run…it’s in writing, so read it and run with it…you will win the race!
Again, God gives us the answers in writing so that we can run victoriously, even during the dreaded wait and no finish line in sight.
Cliff-Notes to Study
I’ll recap what God has revealed to us in simpler form…a cheat-sheet for your tests:
- What are you to do? Run your race with endurance.
- How do you endure? With faith.
- How do you have faith? God gives it to you by His strength.
- How does He strengthen you? He gives you His Spirit and His written Word.
- What happens when you read His Word and let the Spirit guide? You run like a deer…and you will win the race!
Dear friend, even if all the things you hope for don’t come true, you can still find joy in the God of your salvation. Remember, your salvation alone is reason enough to rejoice while we wait on other things to come to pass. It is the greatest gift we will ever receive, and not deserve! We ought to skip around the racetrack like goofy deer even if everything else in our life sours and heads south! It really is a matter of perspective.
I can’t say what is at the end of the wait with this whole coronavirus situation. I’m not a prophet. I know people are hurting and suffering. My heart goes out to them, and I don’t minimize any of their pain!
But I can assure you that God is in control. He is good, and His plans are infinitely bigger than what we can comprehend. We may find ourselves wrestling with the same questions that Habakkuk asked and wondering if there is some sort of imbalance with it all.
Whatever it is…whatever God is doing…in the grand scheme of His great plan and looking past our immediate circumstance, I do believe the same response He gave Habakkuk applies today: Look…watch…and be astounded. Somehow it’ll all fit together, and it’ll be worth the wait.
I know it’s hard not to ask all the why’s and how long’s that hold us back, but as the writer of Hebrews instructed, let’s drop the weights and endure the race with His perfect faith! God will gladly give you strength and contentment in that process. Just ask Him.
If this post speaks to you and you feel it will help others in their uncertain times, please share it!
Also, I would love to read your comments about how you handle waiting, and I’d love for you to encourage others with God’s blessings revealed to you after your divinely appointed time to wait on Him!
Keeping faith in the race,
Well said and much needed encouragement at this time. This is a good time for personal reflection.