Fair weather faith?

Please begin with prayer for an open heart, before you read the passage below. Habakkuk 3:1-2, 17-19 - A prayer of Habakkuk the prophet. On shigionoth.Lord, I have heard of your fame; I stand in awe of your deeds, O Lord. Renew them in our day, in our time make them known; in wrath remember mercy.  Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, 18 yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior. 19 The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,  he enables me to go on the heights. For the director of music. On my stringed instruments.

I began my college experience at the University of Texas in 1997.  This was the last year of Coach Mackovic, who had won two consecutive conference championships in 1995 & 1996, so expectations for 1997 were high, but reasonable.  We ended the season at 4-7 and UT ended the relationship with John Mackovic shortly thereafter.  I learned pretty quickly that UT fans are mostly fair weather fans.  If we are bad, there are plenty of empty seats---if we are good, everyone wears orange and there are very few empty seats---unless we aren’t good enough.  I remember in 1997 we lost to UCLA 66-3 and by halftime, my friend and I were front row, 50-yard line, enjoying the taunts from the UCLA players! 

Mack Brown was hired as the head coach after that season and the legacy began.  Mack and the Longhorns proceeded to win 9 or more games in the next 12 seasons and one national championship in 2005 (should have been at least one more!).  Mack had built the program into the most valuable program and one of the most successful in the nation.  UT Football added over 20,000 seats on the stadium and didn’t have any problem filling each seat---that is, while they were winning!  Fast forward to 2010, when the team finished 5-7 and with a losing record came empty seats.  The team was not performing the same way it had, so the fans chose not to show up.  2011 was a similar story---the record was better, but they could not fill the stadium.  Fair weather fans are one thing UT is known for and if the team is not winning, or not competing for the national championship they don’t show up.

In Habakkuk, we see a similar ‘fair weather fan’ mentality from the prophet in His response to God.  He was in the middle of his ministry as a prophet around 600 B.C., right before the Babylonians would destroy the Temple, city, and export the majority of the Jewish people back to Babylon.  We see the prophet engaging in a dialogue with God about the plight of the Jewish people.  He begins complaining about how much wickedness is going on through idol worship and immorality and God responds with announcing that He would use the Babylonians to bring judgment on the Jewish people.  Again, God is not performing as Habakkuk desires and he complains about this as well.  How dare a Holy God use such wicked people and take the Jews from their place!  Habakkuk wanted judgment, just not in this way at this time---his desires over God’s.  (Read all of Habakkuk---it’s only 3 chapters to gain a context!)

We saw a similar response from John the Baptist in Matthew 11---if Jesus were the Messiah, surely He wouldn’t let John rot in prison.  John was the biggest proclaimer of Jesus (see John 1:36 and Matthew 3:13-17), until things were not going well for him.  Jesus seemed to be healing everyone, raising the dead, and performing miracles, but He had forgotten about John.  John thought he would gently remind Jesus that he was in prison and Jesus responds, confirming He is the Messiah and saying, ‘Blessing is the man who does not fall away on account of me.’ (Matthew 11:6)  So, John responds with unmet expectations and is confused, because God is not ‘behaving’ as desired.  The fair weather mentality strikes again…

The challenge before Christians is to trust and submit to God, regardless of life situation, which is much easier in theory.  Typically, I think our faith is fine, as long as life is going as we believe in should.  Trust in God is really tested when life is not going as planned---doubts arise and we wonder if God really exists.  We eventually see Habakkuk step back and trust God.  Habakkuk 3:17-18 is one of the most faith-filled passages in Scripture!  Regardless of the circumstance or outcome, Habakkuk will ‘rejoice in the Lord’ and ‘will be joyful in God my Savior’.  What amazing words!  We are called to trust God when things go our way and when things don’t go our way. 

We see Him as a Father who knows best, even though we are confused or seem lost.  We are not ‘fair weather Christians’ that attempt to dictate how God should act, since we think we know best.  Comfort is not God’s goal---He desires commitment, transformation, and eternity.  Pain and suffering are not fun, but we expect them and trust that God will grow us through them (James 1) and trust that His name is glorified!  God give us humility and perspective that puts you first---grow us to trust you, regardless of how life is and for us to be all-weather Christians!

Are you a ‘fair weather fan’ in your relationship with God?  How much does your faith rise and fall with what’s going on around you?  How can you trust God, no matter what happens?