First of all, my prayers are with all of the victims of this tremendous tragedy, especially with those who I know have lost loved ones in one of the ravaged Southern cities.
My children have taken money from their piggy banks to contribute to our church's effort for the homeless. Please consider doing so as well if you are able. Our young ones can learn generosity, and this is a perfect opportunity for them to do so.
After pondering the last week, I must come back to the fact that God is still on His sovereign throne. He is in control. This has not escaped His watchful eye. He knows. He cares. He desires that all will be drawn to Him. Often it takes hardship for this to happen.
The prophet Habakkuk lived through the ordeal of his nation being taken into captivity by the Babylonians. At the outset of Habakkuk, he cries out to the Lord:
"How long, O Lord, must I call for help,
but you do not listen?
Or cry out to you, 'Violence!'
but you do not save?
Why do you make me look at injustice?
Why do you tolerate wrong?
Destruction and violence ar before me;
there is strife, and conflict abounds.
Therefore the law is paralyzed,
and justice never prevails.
The wicked hem in the righteous,
so that justice is perverted." (Hab. 1:1-4, NIV)
Sound hopeless? This lament came even before his country was attacked. But God had an answer. Basically: This will get worse before it gets better.
"Look at the nations and watch - and be utterly amazed.
For I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe,
even if you were told." (Hab. 1:5NIV)
God sent an evil nation to conquer Judah and take them to a foreign land. But God promised that the wicked would be held responsible for their actions, even though God Himself raised them up for this task. In the end, they would not survive. Eventually, God's people would come back to their homes.
(A personal note: Please don't misunderstand. In no way am I equating the judgment of God with our recent catastrophe. I only make the point that when bad things happen, God still knows what He's doing.)
Back to Habakkuk. Upon hearing God's revelation about the future of his country, Habakkuk says to God:
"Lord, I have heard of your fame;
I stand in awe of your deeds, O Lord.
Renew them in our day,
in our time make them known;
in wrath remember mercy." (Hab. 3:2, NIV)
In his fear and trembling, Habakkuk continued to trust in the God he knew performed miraculous works, and Who would continue to perform them. At the end of the book come some of the most profound words I have ever read. Habakkuk's situation had not changed, but his perspective had. He questioned, but accepted God's answers. May this also be our prayer:
"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 soveregn Lord is my strength;
he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
he enables me to go on the heights." (Hab. 3:17-19, NIV)