A one-sentence response to a jacked-up world

We live in a world that’s a bit … well … jacked up. Perhaps you’ve noticed. The recent massacre in Las Vegas just adds to the evidence. There are many things we can and should do in response to the evil in our world, but the results are out of our control. It’s frustrating and, at times, depressing. Rather than letting it get you down, however, you might try repeating the words of Habakkuk.

You remember Habakkuk, right? He’s one of those Old Testament guys who knew all too much about God’s displeasure with a jacked-up world. Habakkuk 3 records a song by the prophet, and near the end he lists all sorts of legitimate reasons for being worried about the condition of the world. Then, he provides something we need just as much today as he did thousands of years ago: perspective.

“Yet I will rejoice in the Lord,” he says, “I will be joyful in God my Savior.” (Habakkuk 3:18)

No matter what was going on or would happen, Habakkuk was choosing to rejoice and be joyful – not in the circumstances, but in the Lord who was his savior. The world was out of Habakkuk’s control, but not God’s. Jesus told us something similar in John 16:33 – “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

That doesn’t mean we don’t actively fight against evil. It means we fight with a God-focused perspective on the outcome. It hit me recently that my first response to our jacked-up world should be to have the wisdom-soaked attitude of Habakkuk. Think about whatever irritates you about this world – large things or small – and give it a try …

A madman has fired bullets into a crowd?

“Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.”

Hurricanes are bashing Texas, Florida and the Caribbean islands …

“Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.”

Earthquakes are crippling regions of Mexico …

“Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.”

North Korea is going nuclear …

“Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.”

Your favorite team lost again …

“Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.”

You can’t figure out this feud between President Trump and the NFL …

“Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.”

You have troubles at work …

“Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.”

You have troubles at home …

“Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.”

Crime … abortion … racism … politics … protests …

“Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.”

No matter what might cause you to worry, hand-wring or feel tempted to rant on social media or in person with your friends, there’s something powerful about saying that verse out loud. It’s re-orienting. Calming. Reassuring. Refreshing. It’s a reminder that despite your weakness, nothing is ever out of God’s control. And that’s a great perspective.

Grow Like Kittens

Last week, Audrey and I went by the local animal shelter and adopted a couple of kittens. It hasn’t taken Tuck and Tessa long to make themselves at home, but they’re still rather young – less than two months old – so they have plenty to learn. That’s part of the fun of kittens: Watching them explore this crazy new world and joyfully learn how to function in it.

So, here’s how they’re doing so far with a few key kitten skills …

  • Stalking/Pouncing – Tuck, B-plus; Tessa, A-minus
  • Vertical Leap – Tuck, C-plus; Tessa, C
  • Curiosity – Tuck, A; Tessa, A
  • Obedience – Tuck, B; Tessa, B-minus
  • Climbing – Tuck, B; Tessa, B-minus
  • Cuddling – Tuck, B; Tessa, A
  • Potty Training – Tuck, A; Tessa, A (OK, one of them probably deserves a B, but we’re not sure which, and it was just that one time)
  • Sibling Wrestling – Tuck, B; Tessa, A

As you can see, they are quite advanced for seven weeks old.

Photo by me
Photo by me

Eventually, of course, kittens turn into cats, and life no longer is all fun and games. Adulthood takes over. Growth and learning seem to plateau. They settle into routines. They have real jobs with real to-do lists: Eat, sleep, patrol for mice, demand affection from humans, repeat.

Sometimes, I can relate. I’m not sure about cats, but I’m certain Jesus calls us to something more. Adulthood was never intended as a destination, but as a phase for more growth. Wherever we find ourselves in this journey of life, there’s always more to learn, always room to grow. That’s one of the broader points of Luke 2:52 and a big reason I wrote Grow Like Jesus. It seems clear to me that God is calling us to continually grow in wisdom, stature, favor with God, and favor with man.

So how are you doing? What are some key skills in your growth? How would you grade yourself in areas like prayer, time in God’s word, patience with others, dependence on God, healthy eating, exercise, relationship building, service to others, stalking/pouncing …?

OK, maybe not that last one. But whether you are newly born-again followers of Jesus or much further into your journey, the sanctification process never ends until you’re called home.

For me, the best part is that real growth in Christ always brings me joy. I’m like Tuck pulling on the drawstring of the window blind so that he hits the wind chime and makes it jingle. Life is mysterious and magical. I might not understand everything that’s going on around me, but I know life is good. I know God is good. And as I explore and grow, I think God watches and smiles.

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