Who was Habakkuk?
Habakkuk lived in the city of Jerusalem during the late seventh century BC. Under the reign of King Josiah – there was prosperity, justice, and faith – the kingdom prospered. King Jehoiakim followed – his works were evil. Corruption became normal. People suffered and looked for relief.
Let the rant begin
It was during the reign of King Jehoiakim that the prophet Habakkuk was moved by the pain and suffering that surrounded him. Looking upon the injustice, violence, sin, idolatry, and contempt for God, Habakkuk unleashed what can best be described as a twitter rant directed toward God.
How long, Lord, must I call for help,
but you do not listen?
Or cry out to you, “Violence!”
but you do not save?
Why do you make me look at injustice?
Why do you tolerate wrongdoing?
Destruction and violence are before me;
there is strife, and conflict abounds.
Therefore the law is paralyzed,
and justice never prevails.
The wicked hem in the righteous,
so that justice is perverted.
Habakkuk’s three problems:
Burdened, with his personal worries and concern for the people he served, Habakkuk cries out to God with three concerns.
- How can God look at this and do nothing?
- How can it be that God…who is supposed to hear and respond appears to remain unresponsive to Habakkuk’s cries?
- How can it be that people have lost their humanity and act toward each other in ways that are anything but loving and caring?
The cries of my heart
If I am honest, there have been seasons in my life when the cries of my heart have been similar to those of Habakkuk.
- Is God not aware of the pain and suffering that people are experiencing? As I watch the news or listen to the stories of those in my life, heartache is very real. If God is truly caring and loving, why not simply step in and make everything better?
- I have prayed for God to work in my life, in the lives of those I care deeply for, in the life of my community, and yet it appears my prayers have gone unanswered. My prayers have not been self-focused. I am asking only for God to work healing, redemption, and transformation in those who surround me. Why would God not rush in to fulfill such requests?
- There have been times when my heart just about breaks as I listen to the pain people unleash upon each other. The saddest thing is that it is often those closest to us who get hurt the most. We act in selfish, unloving ways and cause pain and chaos in the lives of those closest to us.
I have cried the prayer of Habakkuk.
Open to the answers
What makes the prophet so interesting is that he takes these frustrations directly to God. Habakkuk knows that there is nobody else who can provide answers to these deepest of questions that so many of us have wrestled with.
What makes Habakkuk so interesting is that while he cries out to God, he sticks around to hear an answer. So often when we cry out to God we have no interest in hearing a reply.
Our prayers can resemble a childhood game involving a doorbell. You sneak up on the porch, ring the doorbell, and then run away and hide while watching someone answer the door only to find nobody there. At times we ring the bell, offering prayers like those of Habakkuk and then run away, moving on with life before we have time to hear God’s reply. Habakkuk provides an example of remaining present and engaged, waiting to hear from God.
If you have not recently read Habakkuk, I encourage you pick it up. Ultimately God replies
- I am aware.
- Be patient. I am about to do something so amazing you would not believe it if I told you.
- My understanding of time is not the same as yours. What you see as a long time is a mere moment for me. Stay the course.
- Remain faithful, and I promise to be faithful to you.
I love Habakkuk. He is honest and real. His prayers reveal that we can go to God with even the most difficult of questions and receive answers. Habakkuk’s example helps me approach God, speaking the truth of my experience.
May the rest of today be filled with wonder and amazement as you are yet again surprised by the gift & grace of God.