Praise the Lord! I don't know any better way to start Chow time than to give the Lord praise.
These are not the best of times. Many of us are still hurting financially and struggling to find secure employment. It seems that not too long ago, we were doing quite well. Many of us felt that we were certainly being greatly blessed by the Lord. The economy just does not seem to improve. Just when we think it has bottomed out, another horrible thing happens. Market crash, September 11, Enron scandal, threat of war and terrorists attacks.
I knew so many people who used to live it up with luxury cars, several apartments, fancy golf clubs, extravagant entertainment accounts. Now some of them have had their homes and businesses reclaimed by banks. They drive one modest car, if at all, and they have no way of knowing what their future holds financially.
The scenario in Habakkuk 3 could be reworded in today's Asian context: "Though my portfolio is not growing, our tech stocks have failed, my flats have been sold, there are no jobs in sight, and my rice bowl is threatened..."
It is so human to yearn for the bad times to go away and the good times to return. But I have come to realize and am learning to accept that there is a good side to bad times. I learned through hardship these few months that I may try to do all that I am capable of to be a good steward of what the Lord has blessed me with, but in reality I have very little control.
When we were doing well, it was by the grace of God. Now in hardship, we are still in the grips of his grace. How else should we respond than by abandoning ourselves to him, and him, alone?
There have been days when I have felt, as David did, the Lord's face hidden from me. The financial concerns that I have sometimes darken my horizon. When I think of all the people who are floundering to keep their business afloat, I share the burden they must be going through. In times of challenge when our gut feeling is one of hopelessness and our vision has been blinded by circumstances around us, how can I cling on to his promises and not trust on my own feelings, much less give him praise? How do I know that he has not forgotten me? How do I know that he cares?
Yet, in my weakness, I have learned about his strength. In my time alone with him I have felt his assurance that he loves and cares for me. His word says that he will never forsake or leave me. Past experience has shown me that he has always, always, taken care of me. He is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow.
Further conviction came to me one day as I was driving in Virginia where I live. Here in the east coast of the US, we've just had autumn. One cannot look upon the fall colors of yellow, red, orange, brown and gold on the different trees without marveling at its amazing beauty. It is breathtaking. The beauty of the trees just cuts right to my heart a feeling of reverence with only one response: "There HAS to be a God who created this." Its incredible beauty reflects his glory and his sovereignty. Its splendor and vibrant colors tell of the heart of its creator. It is as if the master artist gave it all, splashing colors with zest, richness and abundance.
Above, in the skies, wild geese can be seen migrating south. Again, I look in reverence as they fly in V-formation. They are magnificent and fly with such purpose. I read that flying in formation helps the birds fly most efficiently. How little we understand this nature that this omniscient, omnipresent and omnipotent God created. He is such a God of order; his creation testifies to it.
But soon after this majestic display of colors, the rains and winds came and the trees were suddenly stripped of its leaves. This dramatic change is such a parable of the life some of us are going through. Here today, gone tomorrow situations. In contrast, I cannot yet see the beauty in the trees now. Just because it looks bare does not mean that the Lord is gone. I know this barrenness is there for a reason. The seasons--its passing of time--all go under His watchful eye. They tell of his faithfulness.
Likewise, in the seasons of our life, in good times or bad, he is with us, above it all. Just as much of nature remains a mystery to us, so too do we fail to understand why we go through hardship.
We many never know the reason why he allows difficult situations in our life. What matters though is our response. Let us then respond as Habakkuk did: "Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior." Let us continue to live through these trying times in such a way as to give him glory, remembering that we are precious to him, we are part of his masterpiece. No, more than that, we are his heirs because of what Jesus did on Calvary.
What hope it holds for all of us who believe in him. Hallelujah. Let us praise him, indeed.