When the Headlines are Horrifying
Does anyone else wonder if the world is just falling apart? If you caught any of the headlines from this past week you know just what I mean. The chaos in Libya. The murder of a US Ambassador on our nation’s day of remembrance. Controversy over the responses of world leaders. More riots worldwide. Add to that, it’s an election year. Debates, campaigns, and polls all swirling around in a cloud of uncertainty. Not to mention the fears over our economy that hit everything from health insurance and retirement plans to gas prices and groceries.
And that’s just the news! What about the hundreds of personal headlines hidden in our hearts that run like ticker tape over our souls? Headlines like your high school senior trying to get into college or your sophomore daughter whose weight loss is starting to scare you. Maybe your headline is your parents’ failing health or that elephant in the room of your marriage that just can’t be ignored anymore. Or how about that phone call from the doctor’s office, the auto shop, the school principal or the bank? Put it all together and it’s easy to feel panicked and powerless.
What do we do when it feels like we’re a headline away from hopeless? How can we possibly “laugh at the future” like a Proverbs 31 woman when the world around us makes us want to sit down and weep?
There’s one Old Testament prophet whose short book shows us the answer. Habakkuk lived during one of the worst times in his nation’s history, about 600 years before Christ, when Israel was about to be conquered and taken captive. He was among the minority who remained faithful when his country turned its back on the Lord. For generations the Lord held back His righteous anger against His people’s stubborn, stiff-necked idolatry and finally, during Habakkuk’s lifetime, the Lord was preparing to punish their sin.
Habakkuk heard the upcoming headlines with horror. When he asked the Lord, “How long will I cry and you not hear?” the answer he got wasn’t exactly a six-point plan to turn the country around. Instead he was told that things would get a lot worse. An invading army. His people taken captive. A just God who would keep His covenant and punish disobedience.
Habakkuk was horrified, but – and here’s the amazing part – he wasn’t hopeless.
Listen to this man’s calm in the middle of the chaos: Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. (3:17-18) After hearing the worst of the headlines, he lifted his head to find joy in his unchangeable God. If nothing ever grew again, if his world fell apart, Habakkuk would still hope. How could he have this kind of confidence when everything around him crumbled? “God, the Lord, is my strength; He makes my feet like the deer’s; He makes me tread on my high places.” (3:19)
No matter what was standing in front of him, Habakkuk banked on God’s faithfulness to him. He knew that whatever God, in His sovereign will was allowing or accomplishing, He would not abandon His children. I don’t know what high places you’re standing in front of right now. But I do know that the Lord, your strength, will put them under your feet. Whatever the ticker tape tells, there is banner over you proclaiming, “Redeemed! More than a Conqueror!”
Does this sound like some kind of glass-half-full, head-in-the-sand pep talk? Far from it, friend! It’s true that we have been put on this earth during nationally and globally turbulent times. But here’s the incredible part – in Christ we have been made citizens of a Kingdom that will never crumble, buckle, or cave into the world: “Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.” (Heb. 12:28-29)
When the headlines are horrifying, remember this simple, unshakable truth: Jesus is coming back! It’s happening! Until then, it’s going to get worse before it gets better. (Rom. 8:19-24). Until then, we hope in our unchanging God, confident that He will never abandon us. Until then, we shine like stars in a crooked and perverse generation, we proclaim the excellencies of Him who called us out of darkness into his marvelous light, and we offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe (Phil 2:15, 1 Pet. 2:9, Heb. 12:29)
Don’t lose hope. Don’t jump ship. And don’t forget Who you belong to. No matter what the news pundits say, we’re never a headline away from being hopeless. Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines…though the economy crumble and our national security be threatened, though our liberties may be taken and our geopolitical world uncertain…yet we will rejoice in the LORD; we will take joy in the God of our salvation. God, the Lord, is our strength; He makes our feet like the deer’s; He makes us tread on our high places (3:17-19)
Katie McCoy is the editor of BiblicalWoman.com and is pursuing a PhD in Systematic Theology at Southwestern Seminary. When she’s not reading for her classes (a rare occasion!), she loves hanging out with friends, eating sushi, learning new words and is currently a political news junkie. Connect with Katie on Facebook or Follow her Twitter!