November 28-December 4
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The book of Habakkuk in the Old Testament is hugely underrated in my opinion. But to be fair…I really only discovered how much I like Habakkuk this week. It’s not known for its stories or miracles, but I love it because it is one of the few times in scripture that we can observe a full conversation between a prophet and the Savior. We often go throughout our lives praying and receiving answers. However, have we ever attempted a full conversation with the Lord? Have we ever tried speaking, receiving an answer, responding, and going back and forth?
It is a powerful experience.
Though I wanted to make a special note of that conversation, it’s not what I actually want to talk about today. There is a principle taught by the Lord to Habakkuk that I’ve been pondering this week.
4 Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him: but the just shall live by his faith.
5 Yea also…he is a proud man…who enlargeth his desire as hell, and is as death, and cannot be satisfied…
The Lord tells Habakkuk that He is aware of the proud man and that the proud man’s soul is not upright. He teaches that pride enlarges desires and cannot be satisfied.
Pride is a sin we are guilty of in a million different forms; it is the sin of setting ourselves at odds with God or our fellow man. Honestly, with that definition, there are few sins that do not fit into the category of pride (if any at all). However, I have one specific type of pride on my mind lately.
Rejoicing in the Lord
The pride I want to talk about today is the refusal to rejoice in the Lord.
This specific type of pride can look like the following: worrying excessively over money troubles, hanging on to guilt longer than is needful, getting stressed over how to fulfill responsibilities given by the Lord, putting down your spiritual gifts, and many other specific applications.
Now it may seem cruel to tell someone who’s worried about finances that they’re sinning, but stick with me for a little bit.
I don’t label it as sin so that we can worry and stress and ache more; I label the unnecessary worry and stress and aching as sin because it is time that we let go of it.
At any given moment, we have a choice. We can choose to succumb to worry and stress and ache, or we can consciously choose to believe that everything will work out. When we choose to succumb instead of believe, we distance ourselves from Christ and His promised blessings of peace and joy. We put ourselves at odds with Him. We hold onto our negative feelings for a myriad of reasons. We choose not to follow the specific commandment to believe Him. We choose pride.
It cannot be satisfied
As it states in verse 5, pride cannot be satisfied.
It doesn’t matter how many times I have seen the Lord take care of me in the past, my pride will keep me from trusting it. It doesn’t matter how many miracles I’ve witnessed, my pride will cause me to worry. It doesn’t matter how many spiritual experiences I’ve had, my pride will keep me believing that it might not work out.
When we traditionally think of pride, we see a rich man who can’t be satisfied despite all that he acquires.
In this specific type of pride, we see a person who can’t be satisfied or comforted despite all of the assurances he or she has acquired. It doesn’t matter how much goodness we receive from the Lord. It doesn’t matter how many times He has promised to take care of us. It doesn’t matter how much He has shown up in the past. It doesn’t matter that He paid the price for our sins so that we could move on. Our pride will not be satisfied.
I feel like it’s important to note that there is nothing wrong with being sad, discouraged, or even devastated. In fact, that’s part of why we came to earth. The Lord wanted us to experience the growth that came with those emotions. We don’t need to swallow them or pretend they’re not there. We don’t need to punish ourselves for experiencing them or grit our teeth and count our blessings with a bitter feeling in our hearts.
Now that makes for an interesting combination. First I tell you that you’re sinning for not rejoicing and trusting in the Lord when trouble comes, and then I tell you it’s okay to not feel like rejoicing all the time.
Sounds a little confusing. Maybe I can clear it up by talking about the kind of humility that falls on the opposite side of this specific type of pride.
The just shall live by faith
We’ve talked plenty about what this pride looks like, so what does humility look like? What is the opposite of this?
I think it’s interesting that the Lord chose to use “faith” in verse 4.
It’s important to remember that faith doesn’t mean a lack of sadness. It means believing in what you can’t see.
Do we really believe He took care of everything? Do we really believe in the eternal reward that’s waiting? Do we really believe He will make up for everything? Do we really believe He is aware of us?
For the mother who desperately desires but does not yet have a baby: do you have enough faith to pour out your pain to Him in all its rawness? Do you also have enough faith to have this baseline of belief in His promise to fulfill righteous desires?
For the worried young parents who don’t have a lot to live on: Do you have enough faith to pour out your concerns because you know He is listening and aware? Do you also have enough faith to believe that He can easily bring about miracles and make sure you have what you need on a daily basis?
For the repenting sinner or addict: do you have enough faith to turn to Him whenever you fall down? Do you also have enough faith to keep trusting that the repetitive repentance process is bringing you exactly what you desperately desire: to be like God?
Pride is saying, “God, aren’t you there? Why aren’t you helping? Why are you hiding?” Humility looks like: “This really sucks, but I know You love me.”
Elder Holland once spoke of how he knew the Lord was real; he knew it even more than if he had seen the Lord.
When you keep turning back to Him over and over and over, when you choose to have conversations with Him as Habbakuk did, when you get to know Him, your faith grows. You don’t even have to work to swallow your pride. The faith just kind of overgrows it. You feel Him as your foundation. When the storms and temptations come, it still hurts. It still sucks, but it hits different.
I think the most tangible example I can give you of this phenomenon is like this:
I want you to picture two young widows. One has a deep and abiding belief that she will have this unspeakably joyous reunion with her husband. One doesn’t really know what she believes.
Both experience deep pain, but one widow has this deep faith about her future and it influences how she feels about everything. It even influences how she feels about her sadness.
We work to continuously build up faith, day by day, over a lifetime. We build it up by experiencing hard events and making our way through them. Eventually, this faith becomes so solid that it becomes impossible to continue wallowing. The tears come. Occasional worries slip through when we’re tired, hungry, or in a weak moment. But for the most part, you feel Christ as your foundation. It is there, it is almost tangible, and it influences how you feel about every other aspect of mortality.
And that faith replaces that pride. It replaces our desperate fears. It chokes out our deepest sadness. It allows us to remain close to Christ rather than pushing Him away. It allows us to simply believe that He is all that He says He is.
I know Christ loves us, knows exactly where we’re at, and cares about where we’re going. I know that He’s not worried, and we don’t have to be. All things can work together for our good because of Him.