majoring in the minors: rejoicing in the “even though’s”

recently, i have been studying the minor prophets… and by “studying” i really mean i am learning about people/places/history that i never knew existed.  shame on me i know… but it’s true.  i mean how times do we hear about Obadiah or Habakkuk or Haggai?  Or even what about the people who played major roles in Scripture but in “minor” ways… Deborah? Naomi? Nathan? Joshua?

These people shaped the “majors;” the people in Scripture that did pretty significant (and commonly preached about) things. it was these “minors” that had a role in the lives of people like David and Ruth and Moses and even helped lead the entire nation of Israel. these “minors” prophesied about the coming of a Messiah or the virgin birth or boldly led a nation or conquered an unjust king freeing Israel from slavery.  and, not to mention, they boldly proclaimed the need for redemption and restoration to a nation that was lost and confused. these “minors” definitely had way more guts and obedience than i sometimes feel exists in my pretty safe 2015 life.

so this will be our first attempt at doing a {moms at hope} mini series.  we are calling it “majoring in the minors.”  & i am excited to really look into the lives of people, prophets, and kings we often glance over. to examine their lives and really see how God has used these “minor” people in “major” ways.  because truth be told… my life feels a whole lot like a “minor” instead of a “major.”  my job, life, and calling in this world doesn’t exactly feel like that of Moses or David or Peter or Paul but instead more like the simple, diligent, (somewhat) obedient life of Deborah, Obadiah, Naomi, Habakkuk, or Joshua… and here’s what i’m learning as i look at these “minors” in scripture: that it’s not necessarily the big, extravagant, obvious life circumstances that God uses but rather in the seemingly small, consistent, day-in day-out faithfulness of His followers. and that’s something i can relate to… day-in, day-out stuff.  the small, seemingly insignificant routines and daily chores of life.  so i’m pretty excited to hear about the lives, faithfulness, and impact of these (at first glance) “minors” in scripture.

so first up: Habakkuk.  now, before you get intimidated by the name let me reassure you 1. it sounds exactly like it looks (no hebrew needed) and 2. yes, there are a lot of other people who didn’t know it was an actual book in the bible either (i promise, i’ve met these people).  Habakkuk is super short and easily skimmed over due to it’s crazy intimidating name (well at least that was the case for me).  oddly enough, he was the first person that really caught my attention in my studies.  i couldn’t help but be challenged by the extremely difficult message Habakkuk was called to proclaim. and not only that, but his incredible faithfulness and optimism despite having to share that difficult message.

So, the long and short of this incredibly brief book (just 3 chapters!) is this…

the nation of Judah had stopped listening to God.  prophet after prophet, king after king had warned them to repent, change their ways, and turn to God.  but time and time again they refused to listen and decided they would hedge their bets and live the life they wanted (not the one God called them to).  so Habakukk comes on the scene and pleads with God about the current situation of Judah… he begs for God to intervene, to save His people, to make them change their ways.  & he asks an incredibly significant question… “How long…How long will this intolerable situation last?  How long do things have to be this way?”

but God’s response is not what Habakkuk wanted… nor was it what he had prepared for.  in a nut shell, God tells Habakkuk that the only way for his people to repent is for Judah to be defeated by the Babylonians and driven into exile (an extremely humiliating and often debilitating experience).  Habakkuk wanted restoration and redemption for the nation of Judah but God said the only way to get there is through pain and destruction.  and this completely messes Habakkuk up (as it should!).

BUT (key word) in the midst of such devastating (and probably confusing) news Habakukk immediately urges the righteous, the faithful remnant,  to continue to live by faith NOT by sight.  to strive for the good and seek obedience and justice no matter what the world around them challenges.  he reminds them that even when the goodness or character of God seems to be in question… to remember his heart.  remember that he is just and good and faithful & to not allow our circumstances to define God but to remember his promises and trust in his goodness.  what an extremely difficult message to preach knowing that destruction and pain and death would soon follow. and so, it’s in this confusing mix of emotions that Habakukk writes these incredibly inspiring words…

Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior. The Sovereign LORD is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to go on the heights. (Habakkuk 3:17-19)

Even though life doesn’t make sense, even though God’s answer or justice seems out of character, even though… I WILL REJOICE in the LORD.  what powerful words… “even though.”  even though life says God is anything but good, even though these terrible life circumstances have happened, even though i am in the darkest of valleys… I WILL REJOICE.  that is a message i can relate to.  & something i so often need to be reminded of… “even though.”  to praise and rejoice in God EVEN THOUGH life is complicated.  even though i don’t understand God or what he’s doing… even though.
the other day someone was telling me about a difficult time in their life and how everything looked as though God had abandoned and forgotten them. and she said something so powerful… she said, “even though i don’t understand the mind of God (what he’s doing and why), i know i can trust in his heart.”  i just love that.  because she is 100% right.  even when i don’t understand the mind of God and what he’s doing and why, i can always trust in his heart.  i can always trust that he is good and true and faithful. and because of that… because of his goodness and justice and faithfulness… i can rejoice.  i can have peace in the midst of my chaos.  i can trust, knowing, that at just the right time goodness and justice will prevail.
so “even though.”  such simple, yet powerful words. (now aren’t you glad you got to meet Habakkuk?)
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