Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Leslie Basham: Kathy Helvey faced many trials in her lifetime. She knew what it meant to suffer, and she knew what it meant to trust.

Kathy Helvey: I am going to sing to the Lord, for You have been good to me. I'm going to sing, "Great Is Thy Faithfulness." And I'm going to sing, "It Is Well with My Soul." And I'm going to end with, "They that wait (like Habakkuk was told to do), they that wait upon the Lord will renew their strength. They will mount up with wings like eagles. They will run and not be weary. They will walk and not faint" (see Isaiah 40:31). Lord, teach me to wait in the good times and in the bad, when I don't feel You and when I do, to wait and listen and believe, trust.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Thursday, November 4.

Have you ever read the book of Habakkuk? A few years ago, Nancy Leigh DeMoss taught through this slim book.

The series, Habakkuk: Moving from Fear to Faith, meant so much to so many listeners. It’s because the book shows us how to approach God honestly with fears and worries. And it shows us how to trust God when the world around us is shaking.

From September 2010 – September 2011, Revive Our Hearts is celebrating our 10th year of broadcating. As part of this celebration, we’re listening again to some of these classic series.

One listener who was deeply moved by Nancy’s study in Habakkuk was Kathy Helvey. She shared her thoughts along with Kim Wagner, Holly Elliff and Maria Johnson as the series was wrapping up. We’ll hear Kathy describe some of the suffering her family was going through and how the book of Habakkuk encouraged her.

Kathy went home to be with the Lord earlier this year. While battling leukemia, she exhibited the same peace and trust in God she conveyed on this recording.

We’ll start with Holly Elliff.

Holly Elliff: As Nancy was teaching through this, I kept thinking about Habakkuk. I love the fact that his questions were not all answered. . .

Maria Johnson: That's right!

Holly: . . . in this book. Even as he waited on God, and even as he got to God in the midst of it, he still didn't have all his questions answered, but he knew he was secure.

Maria: Nancy said nothing changed but his heart.

Holly: Right, and I mean, haven't you seen that happen where the outward circumstances—I think of Hannah. She left that day after pouring out her heart before God, and Scripture says she went her way. She was able to eat. Her face was no longer sad, but nothing had changed in her life except the fact that she had finally gotten to God with her heart issue.

I have just seen that happen so many times where the circumstances don't change, but you know you are in a place of safety because you have gotten to God. I know you girls well enough to know that you have also been in those tight places.

Kim Wagner: Well, truth changes your perspective. After she'd reached God, spent that time with Him, her perspective was changed.

Maria: You realize God is enough. That's where Habakkuk ended. God was enough. He was praising Him. The circumstances hadn't changed, and he knew God was true to His word. The judgment would come, and it was going to get worse.

Holly: It's a process.

Maria: It is a process, Holly.

Holly: I don't think you start there most of the time, even if you've walked with the Lord for a long time. I think of Christ wrestling at Gethsemane. I mean, He knew everything there was to know about the heart of God. But He was still in a point of wrestling, but it was not sin.

He walked through the process, and the bottom line was, God, I want Your will to be done. You just see that over and over and over in Scripture. That process is there with men who know the truth and women who know the truth, but I do think we walk through a process of allowing God to temper our heart and teach us and change us.

Kathy: I think the thought that occurred to me is: God knows our heart. He knows our every thought. We can't hide anything when we go to God if we're really going to be real with God. Even though we don't want to be, He reveals who we are, what we were really thinking, what we did or didn't do, but when we go to get counsel outside of God, they don't know our inner heart or our motives. We can snow them. . .

Holly: We can say all the right things.

Kathy: . . . sell them. I mean, we can be sincere in telling them what's grieving us and what went wrong, and we can get sympathetic answers. If it's a really good friend, they might speak truth into our hearts, but they don't know the real, true us.

I think sometimes that, whether we know it or not, that's the last person we want to go to because we want the sympathy. We want somebody to agree with us and tell us that we're not so bad after all. God won't do that. He'll nail us.

Kathy: And it hurts!

Kim: But we have to get in the Word, though, for Him to . . .

Kathy: Absolutely, absolutely, or if we've been in the Word, He'll remind us, recall it back and convict us with it.

Nancy: Other takeaways from the book of Habakkuk? What struck you? What did you find particularly encouraging or helpful or convicting?

Kim: Well, when you first told me that you were going to be teaching through Habakkuk, I told you, “I love Habakkuk. I'm so excited.”

Holly: Only Kim would love Habakkuk.

(burst of laughter)

Maria: I said, “What is she going to have to say about Habakkuk?”

Kathy: I actually read through the book and thought, “Hmm, okay.”

Kim: You told me you said, “How's she going to get 20 sessions out of these 3 chapters?”

Holly: She got ten out of two verses.

Maria: I know. I know.

Kim: Only John MacArthur and Nancy DeMoss could do that.

(laughter)

Kim: I think normally when we think of Habakkuk, we think of those last three verses, which is the rejoicing. We love to make that statement—to say, “No matter what, no matter what, I will rejoice. I trust You. I worship You.” But I don't think that we can get to that point without chapter 3, verse 2: “Lord, I've heard the report about You, and I fear.”

I so appreciate the session that you brought out the fact that, I don't think that we have a great—as great—an appreciation for the Gospel until we really understand our own depravity without Christ, until we really understand that God actually is justified in His wrath against depraved humanity.

After Habakkuk says that he's heard the report about You—after we have an understanding—like you said earlier, we can't really appreciate the New Testament Gospel of grace without the backdrop of the depravity of man and the wrath of God. After Habakkuk heard the report about You—he knows that God is full of judgment and wrath, and it's ready to come—he feared.

After he came to a greater understanding of God's justice in bringing wrath, then he was really able to worship God in a deeper way, more understanding manner, to really worship Him and say, “No matter what—yes, I deserve wrath. I deserve condemnation. You've been so merciful. You have paid for, You have taken on the wrath in my place.”

Kathy: Habakkuk got to that point, as Nancy had said, of prayer and praise without his questions being answered.  It's making me crazy unless I know how this is going to turn out or when this will change, and yet, I think one example from this lesson is that we don't have to know. We only have to know Him.

We have to know the Lord, His faithfulness, and He won't leave us or forsake us. We don't have to have our questions answered.

Holly: I found myself so grateful that we have the whole story—for the whole counsel of God's Word. I mean, we don't just have the Old Testament. We have the balance of the New Testament and the completion of the New Testament and the revelation of Christ. I found myself so thankful that God completed the whole story and that we have available to us the entire picture of who God is.

Nancy: Which Habakkuk didn't have.

Holly: Right, right!

Nancy: He could only see glimpses of it, and of course, we see glimpses, but he was looking forward to the knowledge of God in the face of Jesus Christ. He didn't know anything about Jesus.

Holly: But we are so without excuse.

Kim: We're this side of grace and mercy.

Maria: Yes, because we know.

Holly: I mean, we have the whole counsel of God's Word. We know all the facets of who He is, and how much easier should it be for us to trust Him than it was for Habakkuk, who only had part of that picture!

Nancy: Right.

Holly: We have all of it. We know that we have the Holy Spirit and the empowerment of Christ living out His life through us, and we still don't trust Him when it's a tough moment. Even in the not-so-many tough moments, I mean, even in the everyday. As Nancy said, I found out I was kind of a whiner sometimes.

I have a big sign above my refrigerator in my kitchen that says, “No whining” because that's one of my pet peeves with my kids. So many times I get so frustrated with myself thinking I must look like a three-year-old to God saying, “God, why don't you do this my way?” It's just astounding to me, with all that we know, with all that I know that I don't trust Him.

Maria: “Circumstances fuel our emotions, and our emotions dictate our responses.” I don't know if you asked that in a question or a statement, but then you said, “Live in light of who God is, not our circumstances because God has not changed. There is no lapse in God's goodness.”

That's a wonderful challenge and a wonderful life lesson. I don't write Scripture so much on the cards, but I write little reminders like that and put all over my house. That will probably be one, that there's no lapse in God's goodness. Live in the light of who He is.

Kathy: Not what He does—although we see Him doing things all the time for us. That's a takeaway for me. It must have been about six weeks ago, our autistic, young-adult daughter, who is also bi-polar, had one of these horrible, manic-depressive, hellish, I might say, episodes where we almost hospitalized her this time.

Without going into how horrible it was, on the tail-end of that, summer was over. She graduated from high school, so I had been planning all summer, her new life—caregivers and programs and people. She had come out of this six-week hellish episode, and I think I was emotionally and spiritually drained but still charging ahead trusting God we were through it.

Then she put her foot down and said, “I'm not doing anything. I'm not doing it.” I was devastated. I thought, “Oh no! God, why did you line up these wonderful caregivers and these wonderful programs all of a sudden to get to a point where I can't force her to do any of this?”

I was so vulnerable during that day that I began to just slowly melt down myself. As she did, I did, and I went lower and lower with her. I remember thinking thoughts like, “Okay, I am tired of this, Lord. I don't want to take care of her anymore. Is it time to put her in a group home? I've had it.”

My question to you is going to be, have you ever been where Habakkuk was because I hadn't gone that low before in my Christian life. With what I know, I'd never been so destitute, so low, so abandoned. I remember driving her home from a swimming lesson that she refused to get into the pool, and it all came down on me. This child is not going to do what I want, and everything is for naught.

She went in the house crying. I went out onto the back deck and sat on a chair in a corner and just cried and cried and had it out with God. I remember the bottom line was, “God, You have abandoned me.”

I had thought all kinds of thoughts, and I was spiraling down and down. “You're not changing this. She keeps having them. Where are You? Why aren't You helping me? You could change her heart. You changed the heart of kings. Why aren't you doing anything with my daughter?”

Of all things, I remember just looking out into the trees and the sunlight thinking, “I know You're out there, and I know You're in me. I don't feel You, but I know Your Word is true. I know Your Word is true.”

The verse I'd claimed for my life—at my birthday, I always claim a life verse for the next year—was in Psalm 13 where it says, “But I will trust in Your unfailing love. My heart is going to rejoice in Your salvation, and I am going to sing to the Lord, for You have been good to me” (verses 5 & 6).

I remember thinking, “Oh God, that is my verse for the year.” I remember going back over it going, “I'm going to say it. I'm going to say it,” but I didn't feel it. It was a contrary choice.

I remember feeling very numb, and it was scary. It was a scary place to be, and when Nancy started going through Habakkuk, I thought, “You know what? I bet he was terrified that he was feeling this way toward God—doubting the God that he knew and loved and trusted.” When you've had that and then it seems to have left you—not that you've left your faith, but it was a destitute place to be.

Holly: There are times when the circumstances are so huge, overwhelming.

Kathy: Even when you know what you know and you've lived what you've lived—I didn't see His hand. I didn't feel His comfort, and He didn't move right in there just because I said my verse, either. It went on all night, and I couldn't sleep all night long.

In the middle of the night I got up, and I thought, “Well, I'll go have my quiet time earlier this morning.” I was reading through the Psalms, and I got to Psalm 77. I won't read the whole thing, but he says, “Then I thought, [well], 'To this I will appeal: the years of the right hand of the Most High'” (verse 10 NIV). I'm going to remember the track record. I'm going to go back and see what You've done.

He talks about the Israelites and about parting the water, and this is how it ends. He says, “Your path led through the sea, your way through the mighty waters, though your footprints were not seen” (verse 19).

That just pierced my heart, and I thought, “Yes. I felt like I'd gone through a hurricane, and you reminded me here. You were right there with me. You were leading the way, even though I wanted to see You. I wanted to make sense of it. I wanted You to comfort me, but You didn't. Your footsteps were ahead of me, even though I couldn't see them.”

Then he ends it reminding me that You led Your people like a flock. You are my shepherd, and so I will trust in Your unfailing love that's perfect for me. My heart is going to rejoice because You're saving me even though I don't know it.

I am going to sing to the Lord, for You have been good to me. I'm going to sing “Great Is Thy Faithfulness,” and I'm going to sing “It Is Well With My Soul.” Then I'm going to end with, “They that wait (like Habakkuk was told to do) upon the Lord shall renew their strength. Teach me to wait in the good times and in the bad, when I don't feel You and when I do, to wait and listen and believe, trust.

Kim: You came out of that knowing that, even though you don't see His hand, even though you don't see His footprints, you can trust His heart because you know His heart. You have spent so much time in His Word, in the Psalms. The Lord faithfully, faithfully showed up again in the Psalms for you and let you know that you can trust His heart when nothing changes outwardly.

Holly: That's really the bottom line of the whole book. He had to get to the point where he could trust God in faith, regardless of the circumstance. As I was thinking about that, I thought, “How cool that all those people in the roll call of the faithful there—most of those walked most of the time not knowing all the answers." That's what made them such men and women of faith. It's because they didn't have all the answers.

Nancy: In fact, the thing that struck me in Hebrews 11 this morning was, they all died in faith without ever having received the promises God had made to them.

Kim: Right.

Nancy: They still died in faith, knowing that God was going to fulfill His promises. I'm thinking, “Can I live all my life with no visible evidence that God is fulfilling His promises, but they did.”

Maria: That's how you closed the sessions, though, where you said our life message has to be a testimony of God's faithfulness. It's not faith in ourselves, our church, our ability, our knowledge. It's faith in God's faithfulness, and He does not change.

Kathy: Even though we know all of that . . .

Holly: . . . there's still tough moments.

Maria: Yes, and I'm so glad little Habakkuk is stuck right in here, all three chapters of him because it's just it in a nutshell—that he was a man of God, a prophet, and yet he felt like that.

We will feel like that. It will be scary, but we will persevere like he did. We will go to the watchtower, and we will wait to see what God is going to do. I am so uplifted by that middle part about the watchtower.

Kim: He ran to the Lord.

Kathy: Well, I did, too. The Lord wasn't there, but I wasn't willing to wait.

Holly: I love, at the end of the book, that visual of the deer on the cliff because so many times in my life, there is a sense that, were God not holding me on that precipice, I could not be there—and that assurance that He knows I'm there, and He knows how narrow that path is.

We were in Colorado a couple of years ago and watching these deer and the goats running on these ridges that were three or four inches wide and thinking that is amazing, but it makes that passage precious because you're thinking, “Okay, I don't have to be in a wide place for God to be there. At the most narrow moment of my faith, He is sufficient." And that's just a neat thought.

Nancy: Something that has encouraged me so much, just in this ministry, where there have been times I've said often, “If I didn't know Jesus was in this boat with us, in the middle of this storm, I would really be terrified.” Of course, He is in the boat (to change the metaphor there). It has helped me to remember that in the final analysis, what counts is not the fact that I have been faithful.

There have been times when I've just been so afraid of not being faithful, afraid I couldn't hang on to God and His grace, but the righteous live by faith. We don't live by our ability to live the life, and it's ultimately not my faithfulness or my ability to cling to God or to hang on to Him that is what makes me succeed. It's God's faithfulness and the fact that He is not going to let go.

As long as I am His and walking under His authority, He is not going to let my feet slip off that path no matter how narrow and treacherous it seems. I don't have to panic that I'm not faithful enough to hold on.

There are times I feel like I'm hanging by my toenails, that I cannot cling to the Lord, and I'm so afraid I'm going to let Him down. I'm not going to succeed at clinging to Him in this situation, but in the final analysis, it's not the fact that I can cling to Him successfully or that I had enough energy or strength or faith to hang on to Him. It's that He was faithful.

He was hanging on to me. He's not going to let me go, so it's not my faithfulness, ultimately, but His.

Leslie: God is holding you—a wonderful picture and great encouragement from Nancy Leigh DeMoss. She's been talking with some friends about trusting God patiently when life is messy. We heard from Maria Johnson, Kim Wagner, and Holly Elliff. And Kathy Helvey shared about the struggle whe was facing because of her daughter's autism.

A lot of listeners were affected by Kathy’s story when this series aired a few years ago. A woman wrote,

Today I thank Kathy for sharing her experience with us. It touched my heart. I am in a place of waiting. God has used you to speak words of endurance to me today.

Another listener wrote,

I couldn’t help but stop and listen carefully what God was telling me through Kathy as she was talking about her daughter. You see, I’ve been going through something very similar with my own daughter. I can only trust our Lord and wait to see what He will do!

Another listener was aching for a hurting daughter and wrote,

A friend sent me a link to this radio series, and it has been a huge encouragement to me in this dark time.

We’re thankful for the way God used this program and Kathy’s example. We will miss Kathy, who went home to be with the Lord this past April.

I know a lot of listeners will want to get a copy of today’s conversation. It’s part of the series, Habakkuk: Moving from Fear to Faith. You’ll hear Nancy’s complete teaching through the book of Habakkuk. You’ll also hear the honest conversation between Nancy, Kathy and these friends. You’ll learn to cling to God in all circumstances and wait patiently for Him.

For details on ordering the series on CD or mp3, call 1-800-569-5959, or visit ReviveOurHearts.com.

We’ll continue remembering the life of Kathy Helvey tomorrow and reflecting on the book of Habakkuk. Learn to live your life with less worry and more trust. That’s tomorrow, on Revive Our Hearts. 

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

All Scriptures are from the English Standard Version unless otherwise noted.

*Offers available only during the broadcast of the podcast season.

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