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Assurance in Delay

Singer/songwriter Andrew Peterson understands the challenge of waiting for God’s victory in the face of darkness. In his song “The Dark Before the Dawn,” he sings of the frightening storms of life and then confesses the longing within his heart: “I’ve been waiting for some peace / To come raining down out of the heavens on these war-torn fields/ All creation is aching for the sons of God to be revealed.”

The prophet Habakkuk knew of a similar longing and waiting. Having lodged his complaint before God that the wicked still seem to prosper, he gets an answer in chapter 2. God promises that His revelation will come to fulfillment. All that is needed is “an appointed time.” God’s word “will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come” (Hab. 2:3). The message continues: the enemy may indeed seem to prosper in his arrogance. God’s seeming slowness to respond does not signify approval of the wicked, however. Instead, “the righteous shall live by his faith” (Hab. 2:4, ESV). As God’s people live in that space between promise and fulfillment, faith is what carries us through. In short, God is saying, Trust me. My word is good; my promise is secure!

That message of faith is carried on in the book of Hebrews, addressed to a group of believers who also suffered the challenge of waiting for full redemption in Christ’s return. In fact, the author of Hebrews quotes from Habakkuk, telling his readers: “In just a little while, he who is coming will come and will not delay. . . . But my righteous one will live by faith” (Heb. 10:37–38). Christ’s coming is a secure promise, despite a world of brokenness and sin. We must not give up hope, but in faith await God’s final redemption.

Apply the Word

Andrew Peterson’s song proclaims faith even in darkness. The refrain runs: “Oh, I believe, I believe that the light is gonna come / And this is the dark, this is the dark before the dawn.” As we end this study, find a copy of Peterson’s song. Retreat to a quiet place, take all your anxieties to God, and refresh your soul with the hope-filled music.

BY Bryan Stewart

Bryan A. Stewart is associate professor of religion at McMurry University in Abilene, Texas. His particular interests are the history of Christian thought and the way that early Christians interpreted the biblical canon. He is the editor of a volume on the Gospel of John in The Church’s Bible series (Eerdmans), and he has done extensive research on the ways that the early Church preached on this Gospel. He is an ordained minister. 

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