Open Doors Partner, Pastor Edward from Syria, has been living and working in Damascus throughout the conflict. Here he shares some of the powerful lessons that God has been teaching to him through the book of Habakkuk..
“I see a lot of parallels between our situation and the book of Habakkuk in the Old Testament. We live in Syria in very bleak and dark times. Habakkuk learned to cry out to God for help in very dark times. He asks God, ‘How long must I call for help?’ He looks forward to God’s answer. We have the same experience. As Syrian Christians we cried out to God, we trusted that He would answer. As a church we came together, we prayed, but there came no answer from heaven. Like Habakkuk we cried out, ‘How long, O Lord, must we call for help without an answer?”
“We cried out, ‘Where are You Lord? The war continues, the people are afraid, they are in despair. We see darkness cover our country. How long Lord? Children are being killed, innocent people die. We see the staggering statistics that half of the Syrians are displaced, half of them are children under 17. Millions of children are out of school, some for years already. Thousands of young men leave the country fearing to be called to serve in the army.”
Image: Pastor Edward looks out over Aleppo during a trip to the city
“The prophet stands his watch and looks for God’s answer. God disappoints Habakkuk. He kind of says, ‘You would wish not to hear my answer.’ He will send a powerful enemy to invade the country and take many prisoners. We see this happen in our country. After the regime and the rebels, the Islamists came to invade our country with violence. We prayed: ‘Lord, why make us look at injustice. Why do you tolerate wrong?’”
“We as the church in Syria learned to wait and listen for what God wants to say. Waiting is not easy, it is painful to wait, to be patient and to trust in the sovereignty of God. Yes, we have the feeling sometimes that God doesn’t listen, but He does. In our waiting lies a goal, we need to look to ourselves, to our motives deep in our heart, and to our personal relationship with God. Waiting under this pressure changes our character. A change of character isn’t something that comes quickly, it is a slow process with a big result.”
“I heard and my heart pounded, my lips quivered at the sound, decay crept into my bones, and my legs trembled. Yes I will wait patiently for the day of calamity to come on the nation invading us.”
“We, as the Syrian church, experience the fear of the Lord, His sovereignty, His greatness, and His power. We have learned that peace comes through a personal experience of the presence of God. The fear of the Lord and the peace of God are connected, they go together. Habakkuk’s life changed because of this experience of the presence of God. He didn’t get all the answers, but God was sufficient for him. He could end with this beautiful song in 3:17-19. When there is nothing, ‘I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.’”
Image: Destruction in Aleppo
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