Saturday: Psalm 143; Habakkuk 3.17-19; John 17.20-26

From: Kristen Vogelaar

"I stretch out my hands to you; my soul thirsts for you like a parched land." (Psalm 143.6)

"...yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation." (Habakkuk 3.17-18)

A common phrase or idea that stood out to me as I meditated on these passages was the even though. Even though the psalmist's soul is attacked by enemies and thirsts for God like a parched land, he stretches out his hands to the Lord. Habakkuk has been struggling with God regarding what will happen to God's people at the hands of the Chaldeans, but resolves that he yet will rejoice in the God of his salvation. 

I don't think Habakkuk was leaping and dancing and singing in his rejoicing. He himself had started this conversation with God by asking God why he was remaining silent to Habakkuk's pleas for mercy to stop the violence against his people. And God's answer was far from the answer Habakkuk had hoped for.

I think Habakkuk had to choose to rejoice in God even though. Even though his people would continue to suffer and would have to wait longer for God to make things right. And I know that for myself, choosing to rejoice in God even though is, if even successful, a difficult force of will. 

I can't and won't pretend that I know why God allows suffering. There are people in this world, and in our own community, who have suffered and are suffering tremendously. There are people who have fervently prayed for good things, and those prayers have not been answered in the way they seem they should be. I don't think God expects us to pretend to be happy and lighthearted; surely the Man of Sorrows knows how much the brokenness of this world hurts. But I do think that it pleases his heart when God sees his children choose to remember the great things He has done and trust in His good character regardless of the apparent evidence to the contrary that this broken, sinful world amply provides. When we stretch out our hands to him, he will take them. He will make all things right; as I sometimes tell my clients, as horrible as sorrow and suffering can be, they are a for now thing, not a forever thing.

I have recently experienced God's affirmative answer to prayer in very specific ways, and I still struggle with prayers that seem to remain unanswered as of yet, as I think we all do. I'd love for you and I to hang out sometime and get to know one another better!