O LORD, I have heard Your speech and was afraid;
O LORD, revive Your work in the midst of the years!
In the midst of the years make it known;
In wrath remember mercy.
It seems like I am drawn back to God’s mercy again and again these days. And why should I not be? It is only through God’s mercy that I am not consumed by my own sin. It is only through His mercy that I have received His Son. It is only because “The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in mercy” (Psalms 103:8) that I am able to stand at all. God is the exemplar of mercy, showing His forgiveness to us all through His blessed Son, Jesus Christ. Yes, the Lord’s mercy shall be my theme until the day I die.
Habakkuk was a prophet in a difficult time, in Judah just before the Babylonians were to come and be the Lord’s tool to chasten and correct the Jews. Habakkuk stood his watch and listened to the word of the Lord condemning Judah, and yet he held fast to God, knowing that the just live by such faith. (Habakkuk 2:4) With such woe about to come upon Jerusalem, Habakkuk was afraid and yet hopeful, fearing the Lord and yet loving His mercy. Yes, there would be no stopping God’s wrath from coming, but Habakkuk pleaded for it to be shortened, for God’s displeasure not to burn hot against the Jews for long.
“O LORD, revive Your work
In the midst of years!”
What is God’s work that would be stopped during His discipline upon Judah? God’s work is the work of salvation, the work of love and mercy and grace, the work of a Father guiding His children to His glory. Although the Jews had departed from God’s ways, and although their own prophets admitted they deserved their punishments, still there is hope.
25 The LORD is good to those who wait for Him,
To the soul who seeks Him.
26 It is good that one should hope and wait quietly
For the salvation of the LORD.
27 It is good for a man to bear
The yoke in his youth.
28 Let him sit alone and keep silent,
Because God has laid it on him;
29 Let him put his mouth in the dust–
There may yet be hope.
30 Let him give his cheek to the one who strikes him,
And be full of reproach.
31 For the Lord will not cast off forever.
32 Though He causes grief,
Yet He will show compassion
According to the multitude of His mercies.
All through the ages, men and women have waited upon God’s mercy. Through famine and plague, through war and slavery, through drought and storm, through personal troubles and national crises, many have waited upon and seen the salvation of the Lord. Many have seen and understood that, when measured against eternity our present afflictions are, as Paul said, “but for a moment.”
2 Corinthians 4:16-18
16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day.
17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory,
18 while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.
Our hope is in the Lord, in the One who alone is mighty to save, in the One whose arm is not too short to reach down and pluck us from our suffering. Although we know of God’s wrath and the way He allows suffering to test and chasten us, we also know of His abundant love and mercy. And so, even in the midst of pain and despair, we yet see hope for that mercy to rain down upon us.
Whatever we are suffering in this life is truly a small thing next to the glory of God we will experience through Christ. Therefore, in the midst of this current wrath, in the midst of our years of toil and testing, let us plead with the Lord for His forgiveness and mercy, so that Christ can enter in and save us. Without that seeking faith in Jesus Christ, He will not enter in.
19 “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent.
20 “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.”
The Lord Jesus is calling us to remember God’s mercies, to remember that His love binds Him to us and us to Him. Therefore, let us turn aside from our sin and evil, let us return to the Lord and remember His mercy. Let us call out to Him from the midst of our chastening, seeking His mercy even in the midst of His wrath.
1 Chronicles 21:26-27
26 And David built there an altar to the LORD, and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings, and called on the LORD; and He answered him from heaven by fire on the altar of burnt offering.
27 So the LORD commanded the angel, and he returned his sword to its sheath.
That is our Lord, merciful and gracious. That is our Lord, just and righteous. That is our Lord, loving and faithful.
Let us therefore tremble at the judgments of the Lord, let us fear His righteous wrath. And yet, even when we are sure of nothing else in life, let us always remember His mercy. Let us remember that He has sworn to never leave us nor forsake us, that He has called us to new life in His Son. Let us come before the Lord and seek His mercy and salvation, let us ask Him to continue His work in us, so that in days to come He may be glorified in our lives and in our hearts.
Father in heaven, beloved is Your Son to me, and beloved is Your mercy. When I was yet in sin, You sent Your Son to die for me. When I was too weak, He was strong and took the punishment for my sins. He took the cup of wrath prepared for me, and He gave me instead the cup of redemption. I rest my hope upon Your tender mercies, blessed Lord. Amen.