How has your year been?
Whether or not you make resolutions, it is a good practice to take time and reflect. This is actually a good practice to have many times during the year. And New Year’s is a great time. Maybe your year was amazing, maybe it was tough and terrible, maybe somewhere in between. Here is a question to add to your reflection times – did you get closer to Christ this year?
It has been an amazing year at Covenant Grove Church! We started the year really reflecting and praying on Habakkuk 1:5 – “I am doing something in your own day, something you wouldn’t believe even if someone told you about it.” That verse has certainly come true in our church this year! There has been a lot of hard work, and lots of changed lives, and we have been overwhelmed with how God has moved to grow the mission of our church.
Habakkuk had problems. The Lord had revealed that Habakkuk’s country would be destroyed for their sin – by the Babylonians. This brought up another crisis of faith for Habakkuk – he questioned the justice and mercy of the Lord (the same struggles that many people today have). How can you work with such violent and evil people? Will you let us be wiped out? Not only was Habakkuk honest about his problems with the Lord, he also wrote down these problems – and the Lord’s answers – to teach how God listens and grows those who are faithful and honest through their struggles.
God listened to Habakkuk’s struggles. God did not interrupt Habakkuk or correct his questioning. He didn’t even directly answer Habakkuk’s two questions. Rather – God gave a vision of the future: the rich, powerful, and violent will be destroyed, but the righteous will live by faith; the wealth of the nations will turn to ash, but the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord’s glory – like the waters cover the sea. This vision spoke to the prophet, and answered his deeper longings (the longings that were deeper than his pain). When we are listening to people we need to see beyond their surface struggles to their deeper longings – this is where the Holy Spirit is doing His work. When we take them time to reflect on our lives – and the year – we can see how the Spirit is working in our lives – deeper than the events to seeing true character transformation.
God also had healthy boundaries with Habakkuk. The Lord patiently listened to Habakkuk’s complaints, but God’s punishment for Judah’s sin did not change. Judah would still be destroyed – and this would (presumably) include Habakkuk. The Lord gently challenged Habakkuk with His vision of the future. Habakkuk’s struggles also did not change God’s choice to use Babylon as His instrument for judgment. God’s words to Habakkuk gave him strength to overcome pain, grow closer to the Lord, and see His bigger plan. God’s words and healthy boundaries grew Habakkuk’s faith in the midst of pain, struggle, and suffering.
God listens to us. We are called to listen to others and point them to Jesus (through prayer, our actions, and great conversations). We are also invited to take time with the Lord to reflect on our year and grow deeper – and see more deeply how the Spirit is working in our lives. I hope you will take some time this New Year’s, and make this part of your tradition. God bless you, and Happy New Year!
I am excited for 2016!