by James Rudy Gray
These are perilous economic times. Many people have lost over half their retirement. Jobs are scarce. For those who do have jobs, raises are virtually nonexistent.
People are stressed and worried. Others are depressed or in deep despair. For some, hope is gone. How can you help a person in a situation like this? Maybe it is time to teach them the truth about rejoicing in God!
Please don't get me wrong. These are hard times, but God does not change. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Instability has knocked numbers of people into a crisis, a panic, or both, but God is always stable.
As counselors, we can help people deal biblically and effectively with what they cannot change. Things may get worse but that does not mean we have to get worse.
We can choose to believe God and trust His Word or we can insist that things must change. People who live in a change system usually end up disappointed. People who learn to live with the choice system God gives us can experience peace in the midst of difficulty. A person's perspective is a major key in how they feel. It is a major factor because we respond to something not on the basis of what happens to us but on how we interpret what happens. If we can grasp the great truth of a real God who cares for His people, we can find peace in tumultuous times.
Habakkuk lived in a time when he felt some of the same things many are feeling today. The nation of Judah was filled with violence, crime, ungodliness, injustice, and immorality. The prophet wanted God to do something and he knew what God should do. The only problem was God was going to do something but it was not what Habakkuk wanted! Habakkuk wanted deliverance from bad circumstances. God sent judgment.
It is so inspiring to watch Habakkuk change from worry to worship, from fear to faith as he learns to trust God just because He is God. Was God enough for Habakkuk? Is God enough for people today in troubling economic times? Yes! In fact, He is more than enough. The prophet describes his own emotional instability in Habakkuk 3. He also tells us about his stability in unstable times. He came to trust God. His circumstances did not change-he did!
I suspect that we will be dealing with many people this year that need both help and hope. The economy is very important to us. It was also important to Habakkuk and the people of Judah. However, trust in the economy will never satisfy us. Faith in Christ cannot fail to satisfy us.
The really amazing thing about Habakkuk 3 is that he learned to rejoice in God. He could not rejoice in a failed economy. He could not rejoice in a prosperous future for judgment was coming. But He learned God is not some concept we debate but a person we can trust-a person who loves His children even in the midst of difficulty.
God may not always lift us out of bad circumstances. In fact, He may put us in the middle of them. But God will not forsake His children. Perhaps in hard times, the best counsel we can offer hurting people is the hope we show them. It may be that our counselees may be more encouraged and helped by our own rejoicing in Christ than in the best clinical diagnosis we could give them.
Rejoicing in God is therapeutic but more importantly it focuses the attention of our hearts on Him. That is a great place to live-regardless of our circumstances.
James Rudy Gray is certified as a professional counselor by the
National Board for Certified Counselors, and is a member of the
American Association of Christian Counselors. He pastors
Utica Baptist Church in Seneca, S.C.