Hear my cry, O God; listen to my prayer.
From the ends of the earth I call to you,
I call as my heart grows faint;
lead me to the rock that is higher than I.
At the end of another year – how quickly this one has flown by! – we look back at the troubles we have come through, and look ahead to those on the horizon. As Christians, we recognize that our society is aggressively opposing God and His good will for mankind. Politicians, educators, corporations, and the media are concerted in their pursuit of wickedness. When God revealed to Habakkuk the awful extent of Israel’s sin, and her coming judgment, Habakkuk replied,
Lord, I have heard the report about You and I fear.
O Lord, revive Your work in the midst of the years,
In the midst of the years make it known;
In wrath remember mercy. (Habakkuk 3.2)
The storm clouds of God’s impending judgment were on the horizon: Habakkuk prayed that in wrath, God would remember mercy. In the eighth century B.C., the Assyrians were God’s tool of judgment. A little over a century later, the Babylonians completed the destruction of Judah. In the midst of this carnage, God remembered mercy. Godly Israelites like Daniel never wavered from their worship of Yahweh: God blessed them, and eventually Israel returned from captivity.
What will the coming year bring? I’d say the storm clouds of God’s impending judgment are on the horizon. Insipid leaders in America and other western democracies, and the arrogant rejection of God, are inviting His wrath. All around the world, conflict is simmering, ready to erupt:
- Iran is working to produce nuclear weapons, while crowds riot against the leaders. Civilians have been put to death, and hundreds imprisoned.
- Russia continues its brutal war against Ukraine, targeting food and power supplies, which may result in the deaths of millions this winter.
- Other countries in the region – Azerbaijan, Nagorno-Karabakh, Armenia, Belarus, and Poland (a member of NATO), may be drawn into the conflict, igniting world war.
- Russian president Vladimir Putin recently deployed massive Yars nuclear missiles, which can deliver multiple nuclear warheads to the U.S. mainland.
- Turkey and Greece are on the verge of war, with Turkey threatening Athens with missiles, and stating that Turkish troops will “suddenly arrive overnight.”
- Communist countries – in particular China and North Korea – continue their incessant threats against free nations like Taiwan, South Korea, and Japan.
I could go on – but my purpose is not to cause you to despair. Instead, as we embark on a new year, we can do so with unwavering faith in our merciful God. In Psalm 20, as Israel faced imminent war, David called God’s people to join him in prayer. His prayer was not for military might or strategy, but for spiritual strength. He knew from Israel’s history (e.g., the Exodus from Egypt, or the defeat of Jericho) that victory comes from the Lord, and they could trust in Him. He said,
Some trust in chariots and some in horses,
but we trust in the name of the LORD our God. (Psalm 20.7)
Hebrew scholar Allen Ross observes:
“The object of his faith was the name of the LORD. God’s ‘name’ is His nature, His reputation and character. David’s faith came from meditating and pondering on the known reputation of God.”¹
Let 2023 be a year that you demonstrate your trust in the Lord by meditating and pondering on the reputation of God, by reading His Word and making time for prayer every day. As world events unfold, and “God revives His work in the midst of years,” trust in Him, and know that ‘in wrath, He will remember mercy.’ And if worse comes to worst, join David in his prayer in Psalm 61: I call as my heart grows faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I.
¹ Allen P. Ross, “Psalms,” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, ed. J. F. Walvoord and R. B. Zuck, vol. 1 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985), 808–809.