Talking with God When Pain Looms Large (discussion questions)

TTGITT Series Gfx_ThumbHere are the discussion questions that accompany my message, “Talking with God When Pain Looms Large,” from this past weekend at Eastbrook Church. This is the third part of our series, “Turning to God in Troubling Times,” from the book of Habakkuk. This week we looked at Habakkuk 1:12-2:1.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Have you ever experienced a season of prolonged waiting, perhaps for a job, for a relationship, for healing, or something else? What happened and what was your experience in the waiting?
  1. As we continue with the book of Habakkuk in our series, “Turning to God in Troubling Times,” this weekend we look at Habakkuk’s second complaint to God from Habakkuk 1:12-2:1. Take some time to pray, asking God to clearly speak to you, and then read that passage aloud.
  1. Habakkuk begins his complaint in verses 12 and 13 by remembering who God is in the midst of the circumstances around him. What does Habakkuk declare about God and why do you think this is important for him?
  1. Verse 13 contains the first of two strong questions that Habakkuk is wrestling with before God in this passage. What is that question (it is repeated twice) in your own words?
  1. Background: Habakkuk responds with a complaint to God’s word that the Babylonians will overrun Judah. The Babylonian Empire steamrolled the Assyrians and Egyptians on their way toward total domination of the region from 612-539 B.C. The Babylonians, like the Assyrians before them, were known for brutal treatment of their enemies, including driving a hook through the lower lip of their prisoners and stringing them together in a line.
  1. Habakkuk uses fishing imagery in 1:14-15. What does this specifically convey about Habakkuk’s people in Judah and the Babylonians’ power?
  1. What is the result of the Babylonians’ brutal victories according to Habakkuk in 1:16?
  1. With verse 17, we encounter the second of Habakkuk’s strong questions of God. What is the question that Habakkuk raises here and why is this important in light of 1:13-16?
  1. Many times we find ourselves struggling with the apparent success of evil people in contrast to the struggles of good people. How have you wrestled with this in your own life? How do you make sense of this in light of God’s presence and power?
  1. Habakkuk resolves his complaint by waiting on God, like a sentinel on duty in 2:1. What does he say about waiting on God? Why do you think he expects a potential rebuke?
  1. How is God speaking to you through Habakkuk 1:12-2:1? How does this shape your life of prayer? If you are with a small group, discuss that with one another and pray for one another. If you are studying on your own, write it down and share it with someone.

[Next week: Our series, “Turning to God in Troubling Times,” continues with God’s second response to Habakkuk in chapter 2:2-20. Prepare for next week by reading this passage ahead of time.

Talking with God When Pain Looms Large

This past weekend at Eastbrook Church I continued our series “Turning to God in Troubling Times” drawn from the 7th century B.C. prophet Habakkuk. This week, we walked through Habakkuk 1:12-2:1, where the prophet lifts up his second prayer of complaint to God. I offered special attention to the idea of standing at the watchtower of our lives in waiting on God.

You can view a video of the message and the accompanying outline below. You can listen to the message via our audio podcast here.

Connect with us further at Eastbrook Church on VimeoFacebook, Twitter and Instagram.

 

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How Long and the Sense of God’s Absence

The prophet Habakkuk begins his conversation with God around the question, “how long?” That question is one we all voice from time to time. It is our question in the midst of times of trouble, but also humanity’s cry in the apparent absence of God. Habakkuk raises his voice to God, “How long, LORD, must I call for help, but you do not listen? Or cry out to you…but you do not save?” (Habakkuk 2:2).

Many times our own “how long?” is a cry for God to act when we sense that He is not at work. We wonder if God is absent from our suffering. As the troubles of our world and our personal lives boil around us, we may begin to ponder questions like these: “where is God?”; “what is going on here?”; “does God even care?”

In these times we may resonate with the German poet, Rainer Maria Rilke, who turned his own straining soul in search of God with these words:Read More »

Crying Out When God Seems Absent (discussion questions)

TTGITT Series Gfx_ThumbHere are the discussion questions that accompany my message, “Crying Out When God Seems Absent,” from this past weekend at Eastbrook Church. This is the first part of our series, “Turning to God in Troubling Times,” from the book of Habakkuk. This week we looked at Habakkuk 1:1-4.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Have you ever been lost, either on foot or in a car? What did you do to get back on course or find your way home?
  1. This weekend at Eastbrook we begin a five-week journey through the book of Habakkuk entitled “Turning to God in Troubling Times.” Take some time to pray, asking God to speak to you as you read His word. As we approach this week’s study, read the entire book of Habakkuk, chapters 1-3, aloud.
  1. Background: Habakkuk was a prophet during the last days of the kingdom of Judah somewhere in the timeframe of 620-590 B.C., before the fall of Jerusalem in 587 B.C. Nothing is known about Habakkuk other than what we find in this book. He likely would have been a contemporary of the prophets Jeremiah and Nahum, and speaking during the reign of Kings Jehoiakim and Jehoiachin (see 2 Chronicles 36). The book of Habakkuk is organized into three major sections: Habakkuk’s first complaint and God’s answer (1:1-11); Habakkuk’s second complaint and God’s answer (1:12-2:20); and a final prayer of trust and worship (3:1-19).
  1. Habakkuk’s first complaint (1:1-4) reveals a serious situation in the kingdom. From what you read in verses 2-3, how would you summarize what is happening around Habakkuk?
  1. While we know that both the Assyrians and the Babylonians were threatening the people of God around this time, verse 4 suggests that the violence and wrong is actually arising from within the people of God through neglect of the Law (Torah). From what we know of the time, how would you describe the state of God’s people before the fall of Jerusalem (see 2 Chronicles 36; Jeremiah 11:1-17; Zephaniah 3:1-7)?
  1. The word for ‘prophecy’ or ‘oracle’ found in Habakkuk 1:1 also carries the sense of a ‘burden’. How might Habakkuk’s prophecy also be a burden?
  1. The ‘how long?’ of Habakkuk’s prayer has many echoes in the prayers of the Bible, particularly in the Psalms (see Psalm 13 for an example). Why would God inspire a prophet to speak out these sorts of words to Him?
  1. Have you experienced unanswered prayer or felt like God was absent from your life? How did you turn to God in that season of your life? What happened? How did you grow?
  1. How is God speaking to you through the words of Habakkuk about crying out to God in troubling times? How does this influence your life of prayer? How does this shape the way you relate to the troubles of your life or the world around us? If you are with a small group, discuss that with one another and pray for one another. If you are studying on your own, write it down and share it with someone.

[Next week: We continue our series “Turning to God in Troubling Times” by looking at Habakkuk 1:5-11. Prepare for next week by reaidng this passage ahead of time.]

Crying Out When God Seems Absent

This past weekend at Eastbrook Church we began a new series “Turning to God in Troubling Times” drawn from the book of Habakkuk. I began this week by setting up where we are going in this series and looking at Habakkuk 1:1-4.

You can view a video of the message and the accompanying outline below. You can listen to the message via our audio podcast here.

Connect with us further at Eastbrook Church on VimeoFacebook, Twitter and Instagram.

 

Read More »