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Get Real with God Blog
So Habakkuk had a complaint. Big deal. We all have complaints. Mine is why I can’t grow enough hair at the top of my head even after I treated it with some expensive “remedy” for over a year now! Just kidding… But isn’t it true that our complaints are often trivial compared to the things that really matter in this world?

So here is a short list, to help you avoid “wasting” your complaints:

1. There are at least 180 little Christian girls in the hands of some really bad guys who follow this ultra- militant Muslim group in Nigeria called Boko Haram. Recently, the entire world was mobilized to find a plane that disappeared on a flight to China. Millions and millions of dollars, expensive aircrafts, specialized boats, sophisticated radars, unparalleled cooperation by big time rivals. Why can’t we come together and mobilize to find these little girls and maybe in the process wipe out from the face of the earth all those hateful monsters who think the way to obey their God is to kidnap pre-adolescent girls and after abusing them sell them as slaves?

2. Recently, the Chinese government demolished a Christian church, a landmark in the Zhejiang province, accusing the Christians of not complying with some building regulation. This is just the latest example of the official Chinese government’s attempts to quash the spread of Christianity. Such “unregulated” church growth threatens the stability of the Chinese government, so they say. So, suppose a mosque was destroyed somewhere in China, would journalists write more about it? Would government officials protest more vociferously?

3. The U.N. came out last week warning the world that 3.7 million people are in danger of starvation in South Sudan, the vast majority of which being children. How has the world reacted? Where is the Reverend Al Sharpton when we need him?

I could go on and on. You get the idea. There are enough grown-up type complaints to last multiple lifetimes. Our world is in a world of trouble and with each passing day those who intend to harm and do evil seem to be multiplying like the rabbits in my backyard. How do we even begin to make sense of all of this?

Habakkuk started with a loud and well articulated concern. When he got the initial response, he was even more shocked – God was going to use a nation more evil than Israel to punish God’s own people! “That can’t be!” he said. Then he sat down and waited in silence for a response.

In the next scene, God is the one who grabs the mike with a vengeance. He reminds Habakkuk of the ultimate end of those who chose the path of unrighteousness. The text is so pointed, you could say that a mocking God makes an appearance. And He is even mimicking His enemies’ taunts and turning their sword against them. The scorn of God, who would have thunk? So in chapter two of this little book, God warns everyone about four pathways to life that will not succeed. The text is organized in four neat sections, which I will develop more on Sunday in a sermon I’m calling “God takes us to school!”:

Lesson 1: Ruthless get-rich schemes will not prosper (Habakkuk 2:6-11).

Lesson 2: Random power-grabbing will not prosper (Habakkuk 2:12-14).

Lesson 3: Reckless indulging will not prosper (Habakkuk 2: 15-17).

Lesson 4: Renegade religion will not prosper (Habakkuk 2:18-20).

And the amazing thing is that everyone of these lessons materialized in history as the Babylonians, having experienced a spectacular rise to power, quickly met a crushingly humiliating defeat, under the leadership of Nebuchadnezzar and Belshazzar, which we clearly see by reading the book of Daniel.

In the end, then, Habakkuk’s complaint was not wasted. In time, God answered him, but He did it His own way. And there is the challenge for us – letting God do it His own way, whether in our lives or in the world.

Pastor Ivanildo C. Trindade

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“For you have been given not only the privilege of trusting in Christ but also the privilege of suffering for him.”  (Philippians 1:29).

Privilege to suffer? According to whom?

Most of us come to Christ expecting only blessings. After all, we heard the “sales pitch,” didn’t we? “God has a wonderful plan for your life.” And isn’t the very definition of “Gospel” good news?

But is that all? Let’s look at that verse in Philippians again. The text literally says, “It has been gifted to you, on behalf of Christ, both to believe and to suffer.” The word translated “gifted” is the same one as the word “grace.” Charis in the Greek.  So is the gospel good news and bad news at the same time?

Well, in a sense, yes. The gospel is good news of salvation for those who believe. It is the greatest news any time anywhere. Through Jesus Christ we can experience forgiveness of sins, peace with God, and eternal life beyond the grave. That is awesome news. But it doesn’t mean that we are immune from suffering. Jesus said, Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33).

The early Christians never expected a trouble free life on the way to paradise. They were fully aware that following Christ was a two-sided gift, on the one hand, victory; on the other, vexation. And they fully embraced both aspects of the Gospel.

In fact, the Apostle Peter warned the believers not to be surprised when they faced persecution, “… as though something strange were happening to you.” (1 Peter 4:12, 13). So why do we act surprised when we face trials and tribulations? Jesus never said we were only going to have feast and jubilation. He also spoke of trials and tribulation. And He Himself experienced that. So did Paul. So did all 12 Apostles, who all died a martyr’s death, except John, who died in prison on the Island of Patmos.

The fact is that there has never been a time in the history of humanity when followers of Christ have been more severely attacked than now. Christians are suffering under the brutal hands of radical Islam in so many countries. Zealot Hindus are also targeting Christians. Christians in Nigeria, Kenya, Indonesia, India, etc. have had their houses of worship burned and people have been frequently, brutally assaulted and murdered in the most vicious manners imaginable.

This Sunday we will remember to pray for the Persecuted Church as we continue to study the little book of Philippians. To prepare your heart, I encourage you to visit the following sites and educate yourself about the plight of the suffering church.

Resources:

I have also written in the past about this topic, if you want to check it:

As you pray for our brothers and sisters who are suffering for their faith, remember the words of the author of Hebrews: “Remember those in prison, as if you were there yourself. Remember also those being mistreated, as if you felt their pain in your own bodies.” (Hebrews 13:3).

Pastor Ivanildo C. Trindade