One of my favorite scenes from the classic movie Forrest Gump is when Forrest and his buddy Lieutenant Dan are caught in a wild storm during their shrimp catching expedition. Lt. Dan is already extremely frustrated at life because he wanted to die a war hero like family members did generations before him. Forrest rescues him at the last moment during an ambush in the jungle. Lt. Dan has to have surgery and both his legs are amputated, leaving him incredibly bitter and hopeless. So . . . as the storm is raging, Lt. Dan is as high as he can be on the mast – shouting at God, cussing, and challenging God to bring it on. Everything that had been bottled up for years internally – he is finally getting out.
The next morning after the storm is completely gone, Lt. Dan has a look of peace on his face for the first time in who knows how long. He plunges himself into the water and takes a relaxing swim. Forrest watches and comments, “I guess Lt. Dan made his peace with God.”
A pastor recently said there’s a difference between questioning God and asking God questions. We can’t figure out the mind of the Almighty Creator of the Universe. However, I do believe He wants us to come to Him with our tough questions, our frustrations, our hopelessness, and our brutally difficult circumstances:
When will this virus end?
Why did I lose my loved one?
How can I find a job in this economy and pay my bills?
When will this feeling of hopelessness go away in the pit of my stomach?
Why does the future look so gloomy and uncertain?
It’s okay to complain, question, and express our feelings of anger towards God. It happened all the time in the Bible with iconic folks like Moses, Elijah, David, and Joseph to name a few. The key is what you do next.
The prophet Habakkuk is an amazing example. His story is found in four small chapters of the Old Testament. I would encourage you to read all of it to get the complete context. The subtitles provide an insightful summarization:
The Lord’s Reply
Habakkuk’s Second Complaint
The Lord’s Second Reply
What he did was:
1) He got it all out, now he was going to look above and beyond his circumstances and watch and wait for what God is going to do.
2) He prayed for help.
3) He worshiped God even though his circumstances didn’t change.
Check out the last 3 verse of the book with my own comments added in parenthesis:
-Even though the fig trees have no blossoms, (even though it seems my prayers go unanswered)
-and there are no grapes on the vines; (my job is gone and I can’t pay the bills)
-even though the olive crop fails, (I feel that I’m going through this struggle all alone)
-and the fields lie empty and barren; even though the flocks die in the fields, and the cattle barns are empty, (even though it seems this virus is never going away)
-Yet I will rejoice in the Lord! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation!
Conclusion: What will it take to move us from fear to faith? From helpless to hope? From worry to worship? From endless pondering to prayer?
Hang in there like Habakkuk did. And let’s keep looking for help beyond ourselves.