Lord, I have heard of your fame;
I stand in awe of your deeds, Lord.
Repeat them in our day,
in our time make them known;
in wrath remember mercy.
If you could be famous, what would be the talent or ability you had that would make you famous? (OK, I realize I am assuming you are NOT famous, but just go with me for a second.) What would you like to be able to do that caused people all around you to know who you were and recognize you in a crowded room?
You may have dreamed of one day being famous, having people surrounding you, hanging on every word and watching your every move. One the one hand, there is quite an appeal that causes us to desire fame.
But then again, how fun would it be to know that every moment of your life was broadcast to a world anxious to see what you had for breakfast, or what you chose to wear on your night out? The world would help turn every dull moment in your life into a viral sensation, seen everywhere and discussed in all the gossip columns.
So perhaps fame isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Maybe instead of longing to be known by everyone, we think: “What an awful way to live life!” While we are in some ways entranced by the glamour of the celebrity life, we are also repelled by it, too.
Having fame means you are known and most often that widespread knowledge comes from having done something great or outstanding. People begin to talk about your accomplishments. Even without the help of social media, people share those accomplishments with others and your fame, as it were, begins to spread.
Habakkuk wants the fame of God—his accomplishments—to be spread and talked about. Habakkuk, however, wants that fame to be known during some trying circumstances. Read carefully chapter 3 and you discover that God’s wrath is being poured out on the earth, that is, the punishment of God is coming on those who are punishing or oppressing God’s people. If you look at the entire book of Habakkuk, you see that God has used the Babylonians (think: really bad people) to punish God’s people for their sin. While Habakkuk is not thrilled to see someone as bad as the Babylonians be used for God’s punishment (especially on God’s people), he also recognizes that the “Lord is in his holy temple” or stated in another way: God really is in charge.
So in the midst of this turmoil, Habakkuk cries out for God’s fame to be known again, to be discussed in our time. (Funny thing about fame. One moment you are on top of the world, the next no one knows you, right?) More importantly, Habakkuk asks God to show his mercy, that for which he is most famous, in the midst of a world that would appear to be falling apart.
Chris Tomlin has a song titled “Famous One.” I love Chris Tomlin’s songs, but I remember the first time I heard that song. I thought: “That’s an odd way to talk about God.” Given the negativity and images of unneeded excess we sometimes apply to celebrities, being famous does not seem to strike us as God’s way of doing things. But if being famous means that people are talking about you and the great things you have done, being famous is not such a bad description for God, is it? And if Habakkuk can plead with God to show his mercy in a troubled world, shouldn’t we desire God’s fame to be known today?
•In what ways do you seek to “dwell in the house of the Lord” all of the days of your life? How does trouble in your life get in the way of you seeking God? What things can you do to continue to focus fully on God even in the midst of the struggles going on in your life?
•While listening to Chris Tomlin’s song “Famous One,” you and a friend hear the lyrics: “You are the Lord, the famous one, the famous one.” Your friend asks you: “What’s so famous about God?” How would you answer them?
•Recall the troubles Paul experienced in his life, yet he is able to write: “These happened so we would not rely on ourselves, but on God.” How have you been able to use troubles in your life to seek God more, rather than have them push you away from God? In what ways have you been able to—or might you be able to—use your troubles to comfort others who face similar circumstances?
•How have you been a light to the world, sharing the good deeds and glory of God? How can you do a better job of being a light?
•In what ways can we encourage one another in the midst of troubles, so that God can better strengthen us, even in the midst of these troubles?