The worst human disaster most of us have ever known has struck our world. The coronavirus pandemic has effectively shut down life as we know it. Many of us have been locked down in our homes, quarantined or even hospitalized. Businesses, restaurants and beaches have closed; schools and churches have moved online as we are all urged to keep a social distance from each other in order to protect ourselves from this highly contagious, deadly disease. Economically, personally, medically, emotionally, socially and physically, it’s a disaster.
When disaster strikes, how are God’s people supposed to respond? Wear a mask? Keep a social distance from others? Give to a relief effort? Abide by governmental restrictions?
There’s one thing God’s people can do more effectively than anyone else. Pray. A clear example has been set for us by the Old Testament Prophet Habakkuk. He knew the mounting sin in his nation was pushing God beyond the limits of His patience. When God confirmed that His judgment would fall in the form of a disaster so catastrophic that Habakkuk wouldn’t believe it even if he were told (Habakkuk 1:5), the prophet turned to God and poured out his heart in prayer.
As we listen to Habakkuk pray, we learn by his example that when disaster strikes we need to turn to God and keep our focus on Him.
Read Habakkuk 3
I. STAY FOCUSED ON GOD’S AVAILABILITY
- What was the disaster confronting Habakkuk? What similarities do you see with the coronavirus confronting us? See Habakkuk 1:5-6.
- How has the coronavirus affected you? Has there been another disaster that has struck you or the life of a loved one? What is it?
- When faced with disaster, on whom did Habakkuk focus? See Habakkuk 1:2, 12 and 3:2.
- Write out the phrases of encouragement that you find in the following verses: See Isaiah 43:1-4; Psalm 46:1-7; 91:14-16; 145:18; 1 Peter 3:12.
- Describe other situations when people turned to God amid disaster: Read Genesis 18:16-23;
2 Chronicles 20:1-6, 12; Nehemiah 1:1-4.
II. STAY FOCUSED ON GOD’S CONSISTENCY
- From your knowledge of Israel’s history, what are some of God’s deeds that would have caused Habakkuk to stand in awe?
- Put Habakkuk’s request of God into your own words.
- From each of the following passages, describe God’s awesome deeds: Genesis 1:1-31; 6:11-8:22; Exodus 14:5-31; Joshua 6:1-20; 1 Samuel 17:1-50; 1 Kings 18:16-39; Daniel 3:1-30; 6:1-28.
- Do you think God’s power has been diluted through the years? Read Isaiah 59:1; Hebrews 13:8.
- What has God done for you in the past that you want Him to do again?
III. STAY FOCUSED ON GOD’S GLORY
- How did Habakkuk describe God’s glory in 3:3-4?
- Besides referring to a glowing, shining cloud, what else is conveyed by God’s glory? Read Exodus 33:18-19; 34:6-7.
- Describe God’s glory from the following verses: Psalm 19:1-6; Job 38:1-12, 16, 19, 22-24, 28-30, 32, 36; Exodus 15:11-13; 24:15-17; 34:29-35; 40:34-35; John 1:1-3, 14.
- How was God’s glory revealed through disaster in Habakkuk 3:5-6? John 17:1-5? 1 Peter 1:6-9?
IV. STAY FOCUSED ON GOD’S ETERNITY
- When faced with disaster, what characteristic of God did Habakkuk cling to? See Habakkuk 3:6.
- Write out your own definition of eternity. See John 17:3 and Revelation 1:8.
- Give phrases from the following verses that describe God’s eternity: Deuteronomy 33:27; Psalm 16:11; 21:6; 111:10; 119:160; Isaiah 26:4; Jeremiah 10:10; Daniel 4:3, 34; Romans 1:20.
- When disaster strikes, what does it mean to you that God and His ways are eternal? See John 3:16; 4:14; 5:24; 6:40; 10:28.
V. STAY FOCUSED ON GOD’S AUTHORITY
- In Habakkuk 3:7-16, list the personal pronouns you and your, along with the nouns, adverbs and verbs that immediately follow. What encouragement does this give you?
- What further encouragement do you receive from the following verses, especially when disaster strikes: Luke 5:21-26; John 5:26-27; Romans 12:19; Revelation 18:20; 19:1-2, 11-16; 17:13-14; 12:10.
VI. STAY FOCUSED ON GOD’S SUFFICIENCY
- Write out an application for each of the difficult situations in Habakkuk 3:17.
- What’s the worst thing that could happen to you, or to the person you’re praying for?
- What was Habakkuk’s choice at the conclusion of his prayer? Give phrases.
- How are we instructed to make that same choice in Psalm 43:1-5? Philippians 4:4, 11-12? Hebrews 13:5?
- As his national situation worsened, on what did Habakkuk rely, according to 3:19?
- What phrase indicates Habakkuk was determined to live triumphantly by faith?
- When disaster strikes globally, nationally, personally, locally or in some other way, what encouragement do you receive from
2 Chronicles 7:13-15? 2 Peter 1:3-4? 2 Corinthians 12:7-10?
- If God doesn’t ___________, “yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior” (Habakkuk 3:18). Fill in the blank.
Would you make time during this pandemic, whether we are still on lockdown or not, for sincere, honest, heartfelt prayer? Pray especially for those experiencing the full force of this disaster—victims, the families of those who have been ravaged, health care workers, business owners and government leaders who make critical decisions. Pray for your family, friends and yourself. But as you pray, stay focused on the One who hears and answers prayer … the Lord God of Habakkuk. ©Anne Graham Lotz
This article is adapted from a study originally published in November 2005.
The Scripture quotation is taken from the holy bible, New International Version.
Anne Graham Lotz has proclaimed God’s Word worldwide for more than 40 years. Her newest book, “Jesus in Me: Experiencing the Holy Spirit as a Constant Companion,” is available from major booksellers online.
Photo: Kim Rowland/©2020 Samaritan's Purse