In Habakkuk Chapter 1:1-4 Habakkuk says, “How long, LORD, must I call for help, but you do not listen? Or cry out to you, ‘Violence!’ but you do not save? Why do you make me look at injustice? Why do you tolerate wrongdoing? Destruction and violence are before me; there is strife, and conflict abounds. Therefore, the law is paralyzed, and justice never prevails. The wicked hem in the righteous, so that justice is perverted.” I want to talk about a season of life or a zone of life through which many of you are going, but perhaps don’t know what to call it. Habakkuk is in this season of life. The term for it is agony of divine delay. This is the time in our life when we feel like stop light is here, God does this to us, where we feel just like Habakkuk felt, where we feel that we are doing what God has called us to do but there are no results, which was also Habakkuk’s case, he is prophet but what he was prophesying is not coming true. He had prophesized about the judgement of God on people but the judgement wasn’t falling on them. In fact, the people who were supposed to be suffering based on his prophecy, were flourishing and doing well. Justice was a joke it seemed, and anarchy and war, unrest, and lawlessness was braking out everywhere, contrary to his prophecy that it would change and it was not changing. This season of his life was in years.
He is trying to describe a zone of life. Many of us are in this zone today, this is the zone between the tragedy, difficulty and problems which occur in our life and God between that time and the time when God shows up, this is the gap we call divine delay. It’s divine delay, it’s a delay because it’s not if God doesn’t know you are in trouble and you need help now. It’s a season of life where we feel like God seems like deaf or blind, uncaring and uncompassionate to what we are going through down here in our world and we wonder where God went and where is He. There are millions of people still recovering from Hurricane Harvey, they are going through this zone of life, where you hope God comes through, but you don’t see any divine intervention, it feels like it’s that red light putting your life on hold.
In the life of Joseph, we could see this zone or divine delay, the time between him seeing a dream from God and telling his brothers about the dream, from that moment to becoming prime minister of Egypt. He went through a terrible season of life, where he felt God didn’t intervene, God didn’t show up, God didn’t deliver him. He was so concerned that his time was not ending, we can even see at one point when he tries to tell cupbearer of the king, ”remember me”, because the cupbearer was getting an early release from jail, the person he was in jail with, “when you get back to the presence of Pharaoh, mention my name, I shouldn’t be here.” He is trying to take it into his own hand because what else you could do, when you don’t feel that God sees you or God is coming through for you.
This is the same for many of you who are going through this season of the life. The divine delay zone, the zone where you are waiting for God to show up for a breakthrough, is the place of greatest miracle in life in us. This is also the greatest time of fear, instability, disorientation, frustration and it’s also when guilt and shame most function. This is the zone of life when many people can’t take it anymore and quit, they quit worshipping God because they don’t feel to worship Him, they feel that God is not listening or caring for them anymore. When we read Joseph’s story, we only want to see his happy ending, but we forget or completely disregard that there was a long hard time period between him seeing the dream and becoming prime minister. We love to read the beginning and the end of the story but we don’t like the middle of the story. Don’t forget that there was 40 years of suffering for Moses, we also see that Job’s story had a happy ending but don’t forget his sufferings. So many times, people like Job quit in-between because of the friends, his friends tried to explain and tell him for days and days that he is going through all these, “it’s because of something you forgot”, “someone you were unkind to”, “someone who was poor and you didn’t help”, and they all coming up with theories.
Today, in our churches and in Christianity we need champions from this zone, we need heroes from the middle to stand up and say, I don’t know what the outcome is, like Job said, “Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him; I will surely defend my ways to his face.” (Job 13:15). The greatest miracle in your life take place in this zone. The miracles through you can never be bigger than miracle in you. God wants to do amazing things through you but He wants to make sure what He wants to do through you, is first, establish in you. The miracle that happen of that nature, only happen in the delay zone, in the middle zone. The problem with the middle zone is, that we don’t know how big the middle is? You can only calculate the middle, you can see both sides. Are you in the beginning of the middle? Or, are you in the middle of the middle, because this is what the people affected by Harvey are wondering too. We are now thrust into this middle. The problem with the middle zone is, we don’t know where we are? Is this going for a day, for a week, for a month or for a year, we don’t know? If it’s divine delay then it’s intentional because nothing can delay God. It is intentional for God to do that to Joseph, to do that to Habakkuk, to that do to Job. It was very hard for them and for many of us to love and worship and serve a God who is intentionally not showing up for us. The only thing we know is that God’s timing is perfect.
We need to build churches and build Christianity that is so strong, so stable and so durable that it can stand all of Habakkuk’s complaints, it can stand Job’s frustrations, it can stand Joseph’s aloneness when he cries himself to sleep in his cell at night and still no divine intervention. You can be so frustrated with this divinity which seems absent. We need to build churches and Christianity that can stomach and deal with the people who are going through these hard times and delay zones. Because we want to have champions from the middle, we want heroes who can stand up and say, “I am going through something right now, I don’t know the answer, I am not sure or the outcome was not the one I hoped for, here what I learned, here what I figured out, I saw something when I was down there, something happening inside me, I don’t know what to call it, now I am better human being, a better human. I understand more than ever I did what it means to be compassionate and loving, my empathy level is off the charts because I decided not to fast track through it and pretending it wasn’t happening.” Our faith must be real enough, our God must be real enough to anybody in this world today.
We need to build churches and Christianity today, where you can say to your friends and family who are going through stuff, ‘come as you are’. They may say, ‘I don’t know if I can be around church, I don’t know if I can be there around singing and show happiness’, and you can say, ‘you don’t know our church or our Christianity, you need to come as you are, we got hundreds of people in that zone of life, and they are finding comfort and strength in church, with people on their side’. Let’s let Joseph speak in his middle zone, let’s let Job speak in his middle zone, because that’s where most of us are taken out.
If you are in the middle of your divine delay, be strong, be stable, the best days are still to come, so beheld and stand firm in your middle, there is no shame, there is no guilt in your middle, do not give way to that. God is with you. God is more than able and more than large and stable in heart to accept and love and grow and build you as you are today. Don’t forget, God is raising up champions and heroes from this divine delay zone.