patient hope & pumpkin soup

I finally found the chance to meditate on Habakkuk, a book in the Bible that I've been wanting to go through for a while. Habakkuk (which sounds like pumpkin soup in Korean to me... 호박국?) is a prophet who openly and directly questions the Lord, especially in regards to His goodness and why there is so much evil and injustice in the world. If you think about it, that's a pretty bold thing to do. But, it also sounds very much like us. And what left such a huge impression on me was Habakkuk's ultimate decision to have hope, despite all of his doubts.

(photos are from the breathtaking Akari exhibit at The Noguchi Museum in Queens, NY)

How long, 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 wrongdoing? Destruction and violence are before me; there is strife, and conflict abounds... Why are you silent while the wicked swallow up those more righteous than themselves?
Habakkuk lays out his complaints and challenges God in the first chapter of the book. There was a lot of familiarity in his questions because I not only have thought of them myself, but also have heard those around me say them. It's often the unfair evils and painful situations of this life that prevent people from understanding and believing in a God who [apparently] loves and cares for us. Where are you, God, when there are a countless number of people in this world who suffer so much, yet don't deserve it at all?

Then, the Lord answers Habakkuk in chapter 2.
Write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets so that a herald may run with it. For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay. See, the enemy is puffed up; his desires are not upright—but the righteous person will live by his faithfulness... for the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.
This is how I interpreted His response:
  1. Be patient. Because the Lord always answers. It may take a lot longer than you want it to, but remember that the Lord works on His timenot ours.
  2. Have faith. Because the Lord is always just. God's judgment is based on truth (His law), is out of kindness, and is so, so fair (Romans 2). Good for good, bad for bad.
And so, at the very end, Habakkuk prays to the Lord and expresses his ultimate faith in God despite the confusion and hesitation that he still has.
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.
Habakkuk 3:17-18

These last few lines of the last chapter really struck me. No matter how empty the fields seem—no matter how difficult it is to understand God's goodness, no matter how agonizing circumstances are, and no matter how impossible or evil something or someone turns out to be, Habakkuk reminds us that we need to have absolute trust in God and in the promise that He will make things right. And it's not just trust that Habakkuk seeks—it's also joy in the Lord. Trust and joy seem to come hand in hand.

Trusting God has been my biggest spiritual struggle, because I grew up depending on myself in every situation. My own self is who I instinctively go to whenever I see a red flag, whenever I need to figure out a problem, so on and so forth. In a positive light, it may be that I'm very self-sufficient, but there is a healthy balance that I still have to find by letting go of myself more and leaning harder on Him.

Joy is a feeling that's still hard to describe and comprehend for a lot of us... but I believe it's something that also becomes more concrete with spiritual growth and knowing Him more. When I think of the simpler joys, I think of what I feel when my dog greets me when I return home, as he shows me that he was waiting for me and that he's eager to spend time with me. When I think of the deeper joys, I think of what I feel when I'm walking home from family group every Wednesday, having witnessed God's amazing work in the daily lives of my members. It's the joy you feel in knowing that God is so faithful and ever-present, even when you least expect it.

As I've mentioned before, 2019 is a year of many transitions and new beginnings for me. It marks the end of a very formative chapter of my life, but also the start of another extremely exciting one. I think that's why I all the more want to devote this year to myself and to maturing spiritually, especially before I make any "heftier" decisions further on... decisions that entail committing myself to a life path, another person, etc. I'd like to think that I'm training myself to be more patient, rather than being too cautious or selfish. That I'm living more in the moment and focusing on being in a more intimate place with God above all else.

I know that patience is not my best trait; I'm very prone to jumping into conclusions and getting too ahead of myself. My mind is always racing or wandering. But God has been teaching me in this season of rest that it's okay to push on the breaks and be still—it's okay to step back and wait, and it's okay to take things slowly and one at a time. He's been reminding me that I need to find clarity and peace about who I am right now before I continue into any new chapter.

So all in all... I need to chill. Ha. And learn to be still (and enjoy the stillness). And trust that He'll take good care of me (and everyone else). Because He most definitely will!

So yes. Even when fig tree does not bud, even when the fields produce no food, I want to be as hopeful as Habakkuk was.

Note to self (and to you): don't give up on God! He's not giving up on us.
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