January 15, 2019 Kent Ingle

Finding Courage to Ask and Believe

I would like to share with you a weight that has been on my heart as the last few months have progressed, and which I believe correlates to relevant activity occurring throughout our country and in our culture. When we take a look around, it becomes easily evident that we live in rather staggering times.

A few weeks ago, a college student asked me this question… “When you look at the news and everything talked about on social media, doesn’t it seem like evil is winning?”

This question made me ponder. Is the present reality of our circumstances and the promise of our future truly this bleak? I laid this question before the Lord, and He led me to Habakkuk 3. This book in essence records a significant dialogue between God and the prophet Habakkuk. Habakkuk asks God questions – asking why things are the way they are, and why God isn’t doing more.

When we analyze the passage within context, we see that these words were written just prior to the Babylonian invasion of Judah in 597 B.C. At this time, Judah lived in a way that intentionally ignored God, and God’s pending judgment was imminent. Habakkuk, in the middle of it all, was dialoguing with God about his surfacing concern with culture’s involvements. I’m sure he was distressed about the political upheaval, uncertainty, and seeming absence of God in his troubled midst. He lamented the culture he dwelled in and the community of people that surrounded him. In great confusion, he asked God what was being planned to do about it.  

Habakkuk, in the middle of it all, was dialoguing with God about his surfacing concern with culture’s involvements.

This passage captures some of the angst found in Habakkuk’s setting. It captures what people had previously seen versus what they presently saw. Much like our culture today, it appeared God wasn’t moving how He used to. If we imagine ourselves as an Israelite in that era, we might notice that people constantly heard stories of their ancestors’ deliverance from Egypt, God’s provision of manna and the parting of the Red Sea.

Habakkuk declares in chapter 3, “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.” When Habakkuk was writing these words, he was saying, “I’ve heard about this stuff that you’ve done. I’ve heard of your fame and deeds, but I haven’t experienced them. If I’m really honest, they’re like rumors to me. They’re not my life’s reality.” Do you ever feel like that? – Like the God of the Bible seems somewhat passive or silent in today’s modern culture? You read about astonishing miracles in Scripture, which grasp God’s personal involvement in many lives, and yet we still might be wondering about this ostensible gap – the gap between what someone reads and what someone experiences.

Here is the central suggestion: the key to seeing God move in our culture is to first see Him move in our individual lives. If we want God to move now as He has in the past, we must expect Him to move in our own lives and in our own present circumstances. Considering the fact that our generation could go to the grave without seeing the historic fame and deeds of God is heartbreaking. We should believe that God continues to write an epic, global, redemptive story, and every single one of us is invited to play a remarkable part.

Here is the central suggestion: the key to seeing God move in our culture is to first see Him move in our individual lives.

So, let’s reflect back upon Habakkuk. What did he do? There he was, in the middle of a culture where it seemed like evil swelled around him and God stayed silent.

He did exactly what God repeatedly calls us to do.

God calls us to ask. Habakkuk had an insatiable desire to see the mighty acts of God. He wanted to see them in his community and in his lifetime, so he asked God to fulfill that desire. The thought of Habakkuk living his life without seeing the undeniable, tangible reality of God was unacceptable to him. Habakkuk pleaded with God, “God, do it again in my lifetime. Do it again in my generation. Do it again – now.”

We need to have the same posture, the same perspective. Scripture tells us in James 4:2, “You have not because you ask not.” Perhaps all we need to do is simply ask God to move in our lives and gaze upon how He fulfills our desires beyond our wildest expectations.

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About the Author

Kent Ingle Dr. Ingle has a Bachelor of Arts degree in broadcast journalism and a Master’s degree in Theological Studies from Vanguard University of Southern California. He also has a Doctor of Ministry degree from the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary in Springfield, Missouri. Kent served in pastoral leadership in two congregations – one in Los Angeles and the other in Chicago. Later, he served as Dean of the College of Ministry at Northwest University in Kirkland, Washington. He currently serves as President of Southeastern University.