Lessons from the Prophet Habakkuk

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I was sinking fast; death was only a few moments away. The water perilously engulfed me. Unable to swim, I continued to sink further and further underwater to my apparent watery grave.  If it were not for my father’s heroics, I would have died that day so many years ago. Dad’s timing was perfect. There are times in our lives when we feel completely overwhelmed as if we were drowning.  My story is a true story of a near-death experience, too many of us face our own problems.  We are drowning and suffocating in our individual watery grave.  What do we do when life is unfair and uncertain?  How do Christians navigate the political waters we are drowning in?  What do we do when God seems distant and weak? Where is God? Why are we hurting so much? Why isn’t He doing anything?

The Prophet Habakkuk had many of these same questions.  He was a prophet to the Southern Kingdom of Judah between 609-605 BC.  King Josiah was dead.  Judah was in the grips of a pagan world power, Babylon, led by King Nebuchadnezzar. Why would God allow a pagan power to overpower His people?  Why isn’t God answering the prayers of His people?  What should the people of God do during such a turbulent time? God’s answer to Habakkuk is needed today.  God is actively at work; have faith in God no matter the circumstances.

In chapter one, you hear Habakkuk’s complaint. ‘How long, Lord, must I call for help and you do not listen or cry out to you about violence, and you do not save? Why do you force me to look at injustice? Why do you tolerate wrongdoing? Oppression and violence are right in front of me. Strife is ongoing, and conflict escalates” (Habakkuk 1:2-3)

You can hear and feel Habakkuk’s frustration, pain, and anger in verse 13:

‘How long, Lord , must I call for help and you do not listen or cry out to you about violence and you do not save? Why do you force me to look at injustice? Why do you tolerate wrongdoing? Oppression and violence are right in front of me. Strife is ongoing, and conflict escalates. Your eyes are too pure to look on evil, and you cannot tolerate wrongdoing. So why do you tolerate those who are treacherous? Why are you silent while one who is wicked swallows up one who is more righteous than himself? ‘

Can you feel Habakkuk’s heart?  Why doesn’t God do anything?  How can He allow the pagans to have such freedom and live in such evil?  Why won’t He judge them? Have you ever been at that place of helplessness?  Are you there now? Do you have a complaint to make to God?

In mercy, God responds to Habakkuk.  It was not the answer Habakkuk expected nor hoped.  God reminded him that He was in complete control; He was using the pagan power to achieve God’s plan.  Make no mistake, God is able and He is faithful. At the end of the short book comes one of the truly great faith statements we find in the entirety of Scripture.

‘Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord , I will be joyful in God my Savior. The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to tread on the heights. For the director of music. On my stringed instruments.’ (3:17-19)

Don’t give up. God’s timing is perfect. In your moments of fear, doubt, and feelings of abandonment and overwhelming emotion, here are a few anchor points for your soul:

  1. God knows what you are going through.
  2. God cares.
  3. God is in complete control.
  4. God’s perspective is eternal.
  5. Therefore, live by faith (2:4b)

Carry on with life!  Press into Jesus and walk in unity of the Spirit. God is for you.

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