Ever notice things don’t often work out the way you want? Me too. Most people wonder why their plans don’t work out — after all, we’ve been praying for years, why isn’t God answering? I’ve got good ideas here, Lord, why don’t you try this? Why isn’t God doing something? Anything? Where is the abundant life Jesus promised?
A prophet in the Bible had the same problem: Habakkuk.
The burden which Habakkuk the prophet did see. O LORD, how long shall I cry, and thou wilt not hear! Even cry out unto thee of violence, and thou wilt not save! Why dost thou show me iniquity, and cause me to behold grievance? For spoiling and violence are before me: and there are that raise up strife and contention. Therefore the law is slacked, and justice doth never go forth: for the wicked doth compass about the righteous; therefore justice goeth forth perverted. (Habakkuk 1:1-4 KJV)
Habakkuk looks around his country and sees violence, a lack of justice, and a lack of following God’s law. Sounds familiar, huh? Take a look around our country and we see the same thing — wickedness, violence and an utter contempt for the Word of God. Anyway, like anyone in that position, what he sees disturbs him, praying to God for the country to turn around. I’m sure Habakkuk had great ideas in mind, but God answers Habakkuk with a plan probably not on his mind as he prayed for God to intercede.
Behold among the nations, and regard, and wonder marvelously: for I will work a work in your days, which ye will not believe, though it be told you. For, lo, I raise up the Chaldeans, that bitter and hasty nation, which shall march through the breadth of the land, to possess the dwelling places that are not theirs. (Habakkuk 1:5-6 KJV)
God’s plan is to use the enemy of Israel as His arm of judgment. This happened many times in Israel’s history, so it’s not unusual. But the Chaldeans were particularly brutal, and this causes Habakkuk some confusion.
Thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity: wherefore lookest thou upon them that deal treacherously, and holdest thy tongue when the wicked devoureth the man that is more righteous than he? (Habakkuk 1:13 KJV)
Habakkuk’s short response — That’s not what I meant! How can you let those evil people take over the land? We’re not that bad, Lord. Yes, I’ve been praying for the nation, and I see nothing but evil around, but you’ve got to be kidding Lord! The Chaldeans? I didn’t have that in mind — I was thinking more of a revival or a great spiritual movement. Not the Chaldeans Lord!
And thus the problem. We ask God to intercede but then want to give conditions and stipulations; God doesn’t work that way. When you ask the creator of the universe to intercede on your behalf, you’ve got to allow Him room to work — He’s got more knowledge than you do.
As an example, I’m a computer guy. When I get called into meetings to discuss some new plan, it’s always discouraging when people have already made up their mind — especially on a plan that won’t work. You see, it’s my job to understand all the new technology, security, and how to make it all work. But sometimes people just won’t listen. In spite of my additional understanding and knowledge, they want to go it their own way with disaster looming large ahead, like a giant iceberg waiting for their ship to sail by.
God works the same way. You can’t ask God to intervene and then try and force your plan on Him. It just won’t work because you don’t have the same knowledge He has. Suppose your job isn’t so great and God has this great new job for you and is just waiting for you to trust in Him for it. But you don’t (or won’t), so you get laid off. You see, God had a new job for you all along, but you weren’t looking for it.
Now you are.
What would be the natural response? O God, why me? I know it wasn’t the best job, but it paid the bills. How will I feed my family now? Instead of trusting in God, we pout and complain. That’s not what I meant Lord! (Which is the definition of oxymoron — words that don’t go together. You can’t say “Not so, Lord”.) I wanted life to be easy. But God isn’t concerned with easy, He’s concerned about character. And character matters.
God sees the end from the beginning and knows what’s best for us. Just as we teach a child, the Lord wants to teach us. And just as the child pouts and complains when things don’t go their way, so do we. But the difference is the two-year-old doesn’t have the capacity to understand what’s going on. We should.
But we’ve still got one problem. If we trust in God, how do we know He’s going to take care of us?
And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28 KJV)
For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. (Jeremiah 29:11 KJV)
But notice one thing: We are never guaranteed understanding. That’s what we really want, but won’t get. That’s where trust in the Lord comes in. It’s easy to trust when you see the plan, but what when you don’t? Is it really trust if you can see it? Nope. It’s only trust when you don’t understand and can’t see.
I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread. (Psalm 37:25 KJV)
What must we do? Habakkuk had the answer for his problem, and it’s the same answer for us.
I will stand upon my watch, and set me upon the tower, and will watch to see what he will say unto me, and what I shall answer when I am reproved. (Habakkuk 2:1 KJV)
Wait on the Lord, but don’t wait for understanding. You want the peace that passes understanding, not the peace from understanding. Allow God to work. As the saying goes “Don’t just do something, stand there”.
We may make our plans, but God has the last word (Proverbs 16:1 Good News Bible)