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confusing signs

city_parking_signHave you ever encountered a sign like this one? Personally, I’ve never seen an actual sign like that, but I’ve experienced it many times.

At some point in life, each of us will approach an intersection where you struggle to make sense of life.

For some, it might be trying to choose a major in college. For others, it could be whether or not to buy a house — or which house to buy. Often, the stakes are higher. It might be health or marital decisions.

When you hit one of these intersectins, it’s not clear which way to turn. The signs might be confusing. If you’re downtown, the person behind you is probably honking at you.

If you have ever encountered this intersection, you’re not alone. In fact, you’re in good company.

Nearly every major figure in the Bible expressed doubt or confusion at some point in their lives. The great men and women of church history have encountered “dark nights of the soul.”

There are two characters in the Old Testament who both encountered this intersection and tried to make sense of it.

Job lived with integrity and questioned God about why he is being punished. Have you ever felt like that?

Then there is a little-known fellow named Habakkuk. This prophet also lived with integrity but he questioned God’s fairness: Why are the wicked not being punished. (K know none of us have ever asked God that question!)

Most prophets received a message from God and then confronted the people. Habakkuk is confronting God himself — asking why the wicked are allowed to prosper.

2 How long, Lord, must I call for help, but you do not listen? Or cry out to you, “Violence!” but you do not save? 3 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. 4 Therefore the law is paralyzed, and justice never prevails. The wicked hem in the righteous, so that justice is perverted. – Habakkuk 1:2-4

Habakkuk is confused. He believes in God’s character and yet can’t understand why God isn’t doing something about the injustice and wrongdoing he sees all around him.

We are troubled by “Why do bad things happen to good people?” We are equally — if not more — troubled by “Why do good things happen to bad people?”

Habakkuk is more than a little discouraged.

He even starts the last chapter with this plea: 1 A prayer of Habakkuk the prophet. 2 Lord, I have heard of your fame;
I stand in awe of your deeds, Lord. Repeat them in our day, in our time make them known; in wrath remember mercy. – Habakkuk 3:1-2

Let me paraphrase that: Do it again, God! I have heard of God’s justice but I haven’t seen any of it lately.

When life doesn’t make sense, it is often because it hasn’t turned out the way we thought it would. Or thought that it should.

When Tony Dungy was head coach of the Indianapolis Colts, he and his wife suffered the tragic loss of their 18-year-old son in 2005. That same season they lost in the first round of the playoffs.

As players cleaned out their lockers, Dungy told them there is a difference between disappointment and discouragement:

“We’re disappointed by things that happen to us but we can’t let disappointment deteriorate into discouragement, and we can’t let discouragement become depression.”

That is easy to do. The easy path to follow when life doesn’t make sense is this: Disappointment > Discouragement > Depression.

But as you probably know: the easy path is not always the best path.

Raymond Edman wrote a book called, “The Disciplines of Life.” In it he writes: “Disillusionment, despair, defeat, and degrading self-pity do not meet nor mend disappointment. Going onward does.”

By the end of the book, Habakkuk’s circumstances haven’t changed. From his perspective, life still doesn’t make any sense.

But disillusionment, despair, defeat, and degrading self-pity do not meet or mend disappointment. So what will Habakkuk do?

17 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, 18 yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior. 19 The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to tread on the heights. – Habakkuk 3:17-19

In a world filled with uncertainty, Habakkuk is certain of one thing: God is trustworthy.

I’m not sure what you’re going through that doesn’t make any sense. To most people, watching Jesus die on a cross didn’t make sense either.

But three days later, the resurrection of Jesus proved that God will never leave or forsake those who trust in him.