If you are a Christian, God is in control of your life. If you are not a Christian, Satan is in control of your life. Satan loves good people but he hates those who believe in Jesus Christ.
God does allow man to have a free will. He is also omniscient. Nothing we do is going to surprise Him. He knows what actions we will take before we take them and He makes His plans knowing what our actions will be. God is in control of your life.
I think it’s common knowledge among true Christians that God rescues us from trials and tribulations many times; still, we may wonder about the times when He didn’t save us from some particular trial or why we had to pass through so much suffering before He did.
In the 23rd Psalm, David made it clear that safety exists in the presence of God, not in the absence of danger. Verse 4 “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.”
God is always present and we can endure the worst circumstances with confidence that the outcome is in His hands.
Daniel’s three friends faced the fiery furnace with that conviction. Daniel 3:17-18. “If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it.... But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods;”
The first chapter of Job assures us that God won’t let evil touch us without His permission. We may not understand why He lets us suffer, but we can accept by faith that some day our “faith will be made sight.”
God's people have always wanted to know how to respond when He doesn't seem to answer our prayer, or when the answer we do get isn’t the one we prayed for. Habakkuk dealt with this and he gives us some insight that will help us understand why some of our prayers seem unanswered.
Habakkuk trusted God and yet he was really upset with the situation in Judah. He wrote this just before the Babylonians invaded Judah the first time in 605 B.C., about eight years before Judah was fully conquered and the people carried off to captivity in Babylon.
He complained to God about two things. He wanted to know how could God let such evil and corruption go on in Judah and how long God was going to let it go on.
Habakkuk 1:2. “O LORD, how long shall I cry, And You will not hear? Even cry out to You, “Violence!” And You will not save?”
In verses 3-4, he describes the terrible injustice and evil things that were going on in Judah.
The Lord gave him an answer, but it wasn't the answer Habakkuk wanted. He thought God wasn’t doing anything about the evil, but He was! Verse 5. “Look among the nations and watch. Be utterly astounded! For I will work a work in your days which you would not believe, though it were told you.”
God was sending the cruel Babylonians to conquer Judah! Habakkuk couldn't see what God was doing because God's ways are often a mystery to man. Habakkuk's response was, basically, “God, I’m sorry I asked. I expected You to do something good for Judah, but instead You’re giving us over to the Babylonians who are more wicked than we are! His problem was that He thought God wasn’t doing what he thought God should do.
Today, we pray for our country and we ask God, “Why don't You do something about the increasing violence in our land? Why don't You do something about the failing financial situation? Why don't You protect us from radical Islam?”
God could answer us with this, “I am doing something. Haven't you listened to the news? Don't you notice that everything is falling apart and that the economy is in a mess? Don't you see how the media are attacking Christianity? Haven't you read about some of our politicians hostility to religious freedom? Yes, radical Islam is growing in the land. And yes, I am aware of these situations and I am doing something about them!”
Our problem today is similar to Habakkuk’s problem. It’s how to respond when the answers to our prayers aren’t the answers we wanted.
In verses 12-17, Habakkuk pleaded with God, and in the process, he mentioned two attributes of God that don't seem to fit in with what God just told him. The first attribute is that of God’s holiness in verse 13. “You are of purer eyes than to behold evil, and cannot look on wickedness. Why do You look on those who deal treacherously, and hold Your tongue when the wicked devours a person more righteous than he?” In other words, he is asking: “How can a holy God use the evil Babylonians to judge us? How can You tolerate their wickedness?” The Babylonians were known for cruelty. They could hardly go to bed at night unless they had done some wicked deed. Habakkuk thought using them to bring judgment on God's people violated God's holiness.
The second attribute of God Habakkuk brings up is justice. He says, in effect, “How can You remain silent and let the wicked devour someone more righteous than they are? How can You tolerate that?” He didn’t see how God could use the wicked nation of Babylon to discipline His Own chosen people.
In chapter 2, verse 1, Habakkuk takes the position of a self appointed watchman, standing on the wall of the city of Jerusalem waiting to see what God's answer would be.
In verses 2-4, God told him to “Write the vision and make it plain on tablets, that he may run who reads it. 3. For the vision is yet for an appointed time; but at the end it will speak, and it will not lie. Though it tarries, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry. 4. Behold the proud, His soul is not upright in him; but the just shall live by faith.”
In verse 3, God promised that the judgment of Babylon would come in His appointed time, and then, in verse 4, He makes another promise that is repeated three more times in the New Testament, “The just shall live by faith.”
This is the heart of God’s answer to Habakkuk’s questions. It’s also central to the doctrine of justification by faith found in the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Basically, what God is saying to Habakkuk, (and to us), is that when we are anxious and just don’t understand what God wants of us or what God is doing, we need to trust Him. We need faith more when our prayers are unanswered than when God sees fit to give us a favorable answer. A little later we’ll see that Habakkuk learned just that.
God then took the opportunity to list the sins of Judah as well as the sins of the Babylon before He gave Habakkuk His next answer. He was going to use the Babylonians to judge Judah but His judgment would later fall on Babylon.
Habakkuk finally acknowledges that God is sovereign, His ways are right, and His ways are just. Habakkuk 2:20. “But the LORD is in His holy temple. Let all the earth be silent before him.” Habakkuk had no rebuttal to make against God. He acknowledged God’s omnipotence and he fell silent in God's presence.
When the answers to our prayers don't make sense to us, or God refuses to answer them, the solution is to trust in Him and no longer question His decisions. Let me amend that statement. God does answer all the prayers of the redeemed. Sometimes He says “No.” Sometimes He says “Yes.” Sometimes He says “Wait a bit.” When He says “Wait a bit,” He often gives us something better than what we asked for.
In chapter 3, Habakkuk finds some answers that satisfy both his mind and heart. Notice how he describes God in verses 3-6: “God came from Teman, The Holy One from Mount Paran. His glory covered the heavens, and the earth was full of His praise. 4. His brightness was like the light; He had rays flashing from His hand, and there His power was hidden. 5. Before Him went pestilence, and fever followed at His feet. 6. He stood and measured the earth; He looked and startled the nations. And the everlasting mountains were scattered, the perpetual hills bowed. His ways are everlasting.”
Habakkuk is evidently referring to God's appearance at Mt. Sinai and then he recounts the story of the children of Israel’s deliverance from Egypt. As he was reviewing Israel's history he was also reminded of God's faithfulness to the nation of Israel and that gave him a new perspective on the faithfulness of God.
Habakkuk 3:16a. “I heard and my heart pounded, my lips quivered at the sound; decay crept into my bones, and my legs trembled.” Habakkuk was fearful of what was going to happen to him and to the nation as well. We have that same kind of fear in the United States today. Many are trembling with uncertainty and fear including some who know Christ.
Verse 16b. “Yet I will wait patiently for the day of calamity to come on the nation invading us.” He realized that God is faithful even when we don't see His hand at work in our area of concern. He chose to leave the future in God’s hands and he praised God and proclaimed His sovereignty.
Verses 17-19. “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, 18. 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.” (NIV)
I read a contemporary twist to those verses of Habakkuk 3:17-19, in a Christian publication. “Though the stock market fluctuates, though I have just been fired from my job and I don't know how God is going to supply my needs; though my body is falling apart, yet I will rejoice in the Lord. I will take joy in the God of my salvation. God is going to be my strength. He is going to see me through this time. God is going to deliver me in the midst of the trouble that is coming.”
Habakkuk triumphed despite his disappointment in God's answer to his prayer and he changed his complaint to praise.
The two attributes of God mentioned above changed his perspective. The first was the sovereignty of God; he remembered that God controlled Israel's history, so he believed that God could control his future as well. The Babylonians were only as powerful as God allowed them to be, and no more.
How powerful is Satan? Only as powerful as God allows him to be. How far will the stock market fall? As far as God allows and not one bit more. How strong is radical Islam? Only as strong as God allows it to be. God is in control of everything.
The second thing that changed his perspective was he remembered that God cares for His people.
The same God who cared for Israel in the desert cares for the believer in Christ today. The God who led Habakkuk through the hard times is the God who is right beside us when our life tends to fall apart. Satan wants us to question God's care for us, but in Romans 8:37-39, Paul assures us of this: “Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. 38. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39. nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Everybody experiences stress, strain, and anxiety. The cure is to give our anxieties to God and have faith that He is on the job.
I heard a story about a man who was on an overnight flight overseas and he was worried the pilot might go to sleep. He asked a flight attendant to check on the pilot. She did and assured him he was awake and in control. But a half hour later he asked her to check on the pilot again. She did and came back and said all was well. The third time he asked, she told him very emphatically that the pilot was doing his job and that he was insulting the pilot and the entire airline.
The moral of this story is that you and I insult God like that every day if we turn a matter over to Him and then keep checking to see what He is doing about it.
According to Genesis 39:6, Potiphar, the Egyptian official who bought Joseph as a slave, had such complete confidence in Joseph's ability to run his household that he “did not concern himself with anything that was in the house except the food he ate.” Wouldn't it be wonderful to have such a sense of commitment that we would trust God like that? To say we are not concerned with anything except that we are alive and doing what we need to do? Everything is in God's hands, our health, our finances, all our burdens, our eternal welfare.
We live in the midst of a world where we have a thousand problems daily. Wouldn't it be a credit to our faith if we could actually say, as Habakkuk did in verse 18, “Yet I will rejoice in the Lord”? If we transfer our burdens from our shoulders to God's shoulders, we’ll find that He will bear them and we don't have to.
There are a number of verses in the Psalms that reassure the believer that God guides us, provides for us, and protects us, while we are in this world. Psalm 91:1-3 speaks about God’s sovereign protection over us. “He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress; My God, in Him I will trust. Surely He shall deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence.”
There are times when we may feel like we are not under God’s protection. And there are times we fail to acknowledge the thousands of times that we do experience His protection. And there are times we see visible reminders of God’s protection. But how many times has He kept us from dangers that we didn’t see or recognize?
I’m sure most of us have experienced an inconvenient delay or forgotten something and had to go back after it, only to realize that, if it wasn’t for the delay, we may have been in a tragic accident. Probably all of us have experienced God’s deliverance from circumstances like that. Psalm 91:11-12. “For He shall give His angels charge over you, to keep you in all your ways. 12. In their hands they shall bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone.”
Each one of us can probably recall some event from the past that we viewed as a tragedy at the time but God later turned it into a great blessing. The older we get, the more we see that God has a definite purpose for our lives.
God is in control of your life. Those are just seven words, but it’s a biblical principle that is at work in the life of every believer in Christ. He also controls the nations and their leaders and they are His to bring down or raise up. Daniel 5:21. “The Most High God rules in the kingdom of men, and appoints over it whomever He chooses.”
We know these are scriptural truths but sometimes we have a hard time applying them to our lives. Bad things do happen to Christians. Sometimes a job doesn’t turn out the way we planned. A change in the economy can damage our finances. An unexpected illness can force us to look at our future in a different light. Our advancing age can do unpleasant things to us. I’m talking to the 70 and over people now. Although these are events that we can't predict or control, God can use whatever circumstances we are in to accomplish His sovereign purpose.
Think about Ruth the Moabite. Her Jewish husband, who had migrated to Moab during a famine, died. She chose to leave her homeland and go to Judah with her mother-in-law, Naomi. Once there, she had to pick up grain off the ground for food. God led her to where she would meet Boaz, a distant relative of her mother-in-law’s deceased husband and who was much older than her. Boaz eventually took Ruth as his wife and she bore a son, Obed, who became the grandfather of David. God used famine, death, poverty, and an unlikely marriage to accomplish His purposes. He can use our problems and adverse circumstances for good as well.
Romans 8:28. “And we know that all things
work together for good to those who love God,
to those who are the called according to His purpose.”
Another good example of God’s overall purposes coming to fruition is in the life of Joseph. He was betrayed by his own brothers, sold as a slave to an Egyptian, betrayed again by his owner’s wife. He was innocent yet he spent years in prison before he was released. He eventually was made second in command of the most powerful nation on earth at that time. God had planned it all.
In the end, Joseph could say to his scheming brothers: “You meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive” (Genesis 50:20). God permits and controls our testing and He will never give us more than we can handle.
Most of our worry and anxiety is about what might happen, not what has happened. Jeremiah wrote: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11. (NIV)
If you accept Jesus Christ as your Savior
and let Him take charge of your life,
He will see you through this life
and on to the place He has prepared for you in heaven.