Do you have a hard time trusting God when life turns foggy and dark? Every prophet, even the little known minor prophets of the Old Testament, drove home the major point that hope builders trust God — even when circumstances are more than disappointing.
In the Old Testament book of Haggai, God commanded the Israelites who had returned from exile to rebuild His house, the Temple. The people thought it was a luxury they could not afford. Their objection seemed reasonable. Jerusalem’s walls laid in rubble. Their farms and homes were leveled. Squatters occupied their land and were not eager to give it back. Enemies lived among them ready to spring into action and halt any progress on construction. They assumed God would understand.
God understood they were acting like orphans. Deep down the Israelites believed they had to fend for themselves because no one else would. They didn’t trust their Heavenly Father to provide and protect. They were constantly anxious and without confidence because they didn’t see themselves as sons and daughters of an all powerful and loving God.
God exposed their orphan mentality when he demanded that they rebuild the temple (His house) before rebuilding the city. God wasn’t chasing after a piece of prime real estate. He was chasing after their hearts. As their Father, God was working to get the Israelites to stop living like orphans and begin living like His beloved children. Daddy was home! He was with them and for them. Now they needed to trust Him! They needed eyes capable of seeing how their Heavenly Father cared for them and what He promised to do for them.
Haggai is like a faithful counselor reasoning with a disillusioned orphan. Over many counseling sessions Israel finally sees her failure to fend for herself when she lives like an orphan. He asks her to come home — to replace her alienating self-reliance with the trusting dependence of a loved child.
Haggai’s message is a powerful appeal to identify areas we fail to trust God, but instead worry about our circumstances like orphans. We need to ask ourselves: “How would a child of the Heavenly Father (who happens to also be the King of the Universe) think, feel and act differently? I’ll get you started with some sample questions:
- Are you feeling forgotten, or overlooked? Fathers dote upon their kids. God’s every thought of you fills his heart with joy.
- Have you lost something important? (Or afraid you will?) The Father is there to comfort you and wipe away every tear. He still has good things in store for you.
- Are you exhausted trying to prove something or make a name for yourself. The Father has already given you a name, and he has bigger dreams for you than you can imagine.
- Are you frustrated about all the difficulty you have to deal with in life? Tell the Father. He cares and wants to strengthen you to overcome and make things better.
Now its your turn. Identify areas where you’re tempted to respond like an orphan. Reject the self-reliance of an orphan and start thinking like a beloved son or daughter. Only then will you rise above your darkened circumstances, no matter how disappointing, with real hope.
Afterword: Adoption always entails legal requirements. The legal requirements for adoption by the God of the Bible are given in John 1:12, “To those who believe in [Jesus’] name, he gave the right to become children of God — children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.” Jesus Christ, the natural born Son of God, switched places with us to guarantee our adoption rights. Though we’ve made ourselves orphans by running away from God, Jesus endured those consequences. On the cross, he was— abandoned, rejected and alone so that we would know that we will never be given up by God. Jesus opened the way for us to be welcomed home with the same rights and privileges as a natural born child.