At one time or another, we have experienced a season of disappointments on God’s plans and directions in our life. There are moments when we pop the question, “where are You Lord, and why is this happening to me?” We doubt His instructions, and more so His instructions, or most of the time His silence – His seemingly lack of concern to the emotional turmoil we are dealing with.This has been the case with prophet Habakkuk. He lived during the final days before the nation of Judah was conquered by the Babylonians. He was burdened, and in his distress he called out to God in the most honest, truth-seeking prayer he can mutter.
As I read the book of Habakkuk, I was able to glean significant realizations on how do we relate to God during our times of distress and how can we be encouraged with the example set out by the prophet. But the most important thing to note is that Habakkuk is just like us, so natural on his emotions, but unlike most of us, he is exemplary on his faith.
Like Habakkuk, we can honestly cry out to the Lord
The prophet was brutally honest about his frustrations on what is happening around him. Injustice was rampant and he is sick with violence and plundering he witnesses from time to time. His frustrations were vent out to God: “O Lord, how long shall I cry, and You will not hear?”
Is this scenario familiar? Daily we hear the news and cringe on humanity’s dying morality and justice. National issues frustrate us every single day.
Let’s make it more personal. We all have our share of frustrating situations, like being backstabbed by a close friend, or failure to settle a maturing debt. Or maybe, a loved one was rushed to the hospital, leaving us in a state of panic.
Whatever your situation, no matter how frustrating it is, we can always bring the matter to the Lord. He doesn’t mind you asking Him questions, neither is He bothered when you blurt out your doubts. Habakkuk is a perfect example of a person who courageously uttered His frustrations to God. In the first place, He knows our hearts and all out thoughts, so why shy away in your prayers?
The problem is when people have questions, instead of looking up to God for answers,
some prefer to form societies, and within these gripe groups they try to seek for answers. The good thing about Habakkuk’s prayer is not just his honesty, but to whom He expresses it. He knows that when it comes to the matters of the heart such as his frustrations, only the Lord has the answer.
Like Habakkuk, we must wait upon the Lord
Habakkuk received an answer from the Lord, but the answer is not what he has expected to hear from the God of justice. It was like he is expecting that good will triumph against evil, but what he received as a response was “something more evil will wipe out the evil” – a stark contrast from what he desires to happen, or at least expects to happen. He obviously cannot fathom God’s train of thought on that matter.
Just like us. We pray for certain things to happen but God gives us a different response. Indeed, His ways are higher than ours. His timetable is different, His logic incomparable to us human beings. Hence, some ends up being bitter, forsaking their relationship with the Lord.
Yet when it comes to Habakkuk, the Lord’s incomprehensible response served not as a reason for him to desert God, but as a reason to cling to God more. In fact, his name Habakkuk came from the Hebrew verb “habaq” meaning embrace. Thus his name probably means “someone who embraces or clings”. Habakkuk embraced God’s promises and sovereignty even in times of his confusion. He trusts God’s timing that someday, justice will be served and His questions and doubts will be given a crystal-clear answer.
Like Habakkuk, we ought to put our joy in the Lord
Disappointment in life is often a ticket to sudden halt in our spiritual journey. When things don’t go well, when we can’t find any reason to rejoice because of what we see around us, it is easy to lose focus and energy, even lose joy in our Christian walk.
During the time of Habakkuk, it is hard to find encouragement when you know that imminent danger is coming your way. Yet Habakkuk chose to put his hope and joy in the Lord. Towards the end of his book, he has written an encouraging psalm that is for us to take hold of:
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.
Habakkuk is saying, in our language, that “even when all things went wrong – even when the economy falls, when the prices of commodities soar high, when the elections turn out differently from what I am expecting, even when my health fails and people desert me – still I will trust in You Lord. You are the source of my Joy and my strength, and in You alone I place my trust”.
This doesn’t mean we will dismiss our questions. This doesn’t mean we will stop seeking answers. This only means that even when we don’t understand his plans, we will not pull out the plug of our relationship with Him.
Habakkuk is encouraging us, don’t pull the plug.