THE DISCIPLINE OF DISASTER
Facing the Reality
(Or: The Honeymoon is Over)
By Henry Jaegers
In the second year of Darius the king, in the sixth month, in the first day of the month, came the word of the Lord by Haggai the prophet unto Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua the son of Josedech, the high priest, saying, Thus speaketh the Lord of hosts, saying, This people say, The time is not come, the time that the Lord's house should be built.
(Haggai 1: 1,2)
Recently, I completed reading two books concerning the five martyred missionaries who journeyed from their nice comfortable home in the United States to reach a tribe of known killers, called the Auca Indians in order to share the gospel with them. It is the story well worth reading in order to understand the difficulties involved in trying to reach a people who do not even have a written language. At first, it was an exciting project. They completed linguistic training and could not wait to venture forth to reach these people for Christ and give them the gospel in their own language. That was the romance of the situation. Somewhat like the people of Israel faced as they journeyed to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple of God. We do not know what thoughts of grandeur occupied their mind as they made the journey south. Being in Babylon for 70 years, they had no real understanding of what they were about to face. All they had was the memories of the past, and for some of them, the city and the temple had not yet been fully destroyed while they were entering into Babylonian Captivity.
But as it was so for the missionaries, it was equally so for the people of Israel. They had a goal and a purpose for the journey but they did not know the difficulties that lay before them. But now they came face to face with the problem and began to have second thoughts. (Somewhat like their fathers faced after leaving Egypt, and being faced with the difficulties that accompanied their new freedom.) As, in the case of the missionaries, their determination and the reality of their call to do such, cause them to press forward until they could do no more, resulting in their martyrdom. But that is not the end of the line for the missionaries, because that through their efforts, the people whom they dreamed about reaching, eventually had a language that they could read and the New Testament that was available, resulting in the conversion of at least 50 of those who were the cause of the missionaries death.
The verse that we have quoted above contains the word of God that came through Haggai at a time when the people had given up trying. Even the leaders, Zerubbabel and Joshua needed some encouragement and God saw fit to raise up Haggai to encourage them.
About a month ago, I received a call from my sister who lives in New Hampshire asking me for help. She had been away from her home for several months and when she arrived home, she was faced with a problem that was greater than what she could handle by herself. I haven't seen her for many years because of the distance that we lived, but she called me and asked if I could come and help her. With encouragement from my wife, we were able to give my sister a positive reply and so we made the journey. For three days, we worked very hard in extreme heat and humidity to help her to dispose of all of these things that kept her from being able to do anything. She faced a difficult situation that she could not handle by herself, so in three days, we were able to work and help her to regain her sanity.
You may be asking how this is relative to what we are speaking about. There are times that we anticipate facing new circumstances and often we are excited about the prospects until we faced the problem headlong and realize there is no romance at all but instead discouragement and difficulty. The book of Haggai is one of the most practical books in the Bible that deals with how to overcome the difficulty. It is an exciting message when we see God helping them to overcome the difficulty that lay before them. To God be the glory!