O Lord, are you not from everlasting?
My God, my Holy One, we will not die…
Your eyes are too pure to look on evil;
you cannot tolerate wrong.
Why then do you tolerate the treacherous?
Why are you silent while the wicked swallow up
those more righteous than themselves?
Habakkuk 1:12, 13
Walking through my seminary campus one morning, I noticed many people were crying. I became curious about what had happened. I soon learned that my close friend, Wilfred, was killed by a drunk driver. I was shocked, saddened, and flooded with emotions. Needlessly, I had lost a friend. He was someone who was important in my life and also in our school community. Wilfred was from Ghana and had come to Dallas to study theology. He was one of those amazing guys who could light up the entire cafeteria with his smile. You felt closer to God just by being around the man.
Do you know anyone like this? And Wilfred’s great love for God was so contagious. With eagerness, he was looking forward to completing his degree and then returning to serve in his country. That dream was never realized by Wilfred. Yet to honor his life, many people have travelled to Ghana and reached out to the nation. Personally, I try not to dwell on the “what-if’s.” I don’t understand all of the reasons for this tragedy. I mourn and with trust, in the midst of lingering questions, move forward.
God never promises that we will have all of the answers on this side of heaven. Habakkuk was a prophet in the Old Testament who asked God some difficult questions. From Habakkuk’s point-of-view, God appeared to be silent, ignoring the injustice and cruelty of the Babylonians. The prophet couldn’t wait any longer, and he asked God why this was happening and how long it would last.
God’s answers were not easy to accept. God was in the process of actually raising up the Babylonians to discipline the Israelites. God reassured Habakkuk that the Babylonians were still accountable to Him and would be punished for any wrongdoings. God can bring contentment in spite of puzzling and disappointing circumstances.
Habakkuk did not avoid the tension between the issues in his life and faith. Let’s take a closer look at how he proceeded through these challenges with God:
1) He started with a question. It is honest, and it goes directly to God (1:2-4). After adding another question, God’s reply did not make sense to Habakkuk. In fact Habakkuk became even more confused and needed further clarification. Sometimes when we seek God, His answers don’t make sense to us at first, but we can keep asking questions (Habakkuk 1:12-17).
2) He took time to process what God had said. Look at some of God’s statements in this book: they are worthy of extended reflection (Habakkuk 1:5, 2:2, 2:4, 2:14, 2:20). God is not intimidated by our raw and direct honesty.
3) He remained dissatisfied but was constructive. Habakkuk began to pray for God to work amongst his people because the prophet now saw the seriousness of their rebellion. Habakkuk prayed for God’s mercy and for positive changes (Habakkuk 3:1-2).
4) He learned contentment in God. Habakkuk made a decision to praise God and relied on God’s strength through the difficulties. He remembered that blessings were a gift, not a right. And he remembered who was still worthy of his praise. He could only arrive at this place spiritually because he walked through the process with God (Habakkuk 3:16-19).
1) What question would you like to ask God?
2) Does God give any answers in the Bible that are difficult to accept?
3) What are some of the ways you can follow Habakkuk’s example?
4) What prevents you from speaking honestly with God?
5) What situation would you like to see change in a positive way?
Genesis 32:22-32. There can be times in your journey when
you wrestle with God.
Psalm 73. God will bring justice to arrogant people- stay close to Him.
John 16:5-13. The Holy Spirit will counsel you; be sensitive to His promptings.
Deuteronomy 29:29. Respond to what you know- some mysteries will remain.
Psalm 25. God will confide in the person who seeks and trusts the Lord.
Father God, many of the things I see in today’s world don’t make sense to me. Actually, they cause me great concern. I want to respond in a way that honors You and is positive towards the people involved. Please help me to see through Your eyes and to know Your purposes too. Thank You that I can come to You with the most grueling issues and talk with You. Open my ears that I may hear Your words and guidance. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.
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Excerpt republished with permission from Rooted in Grace by Jesse Bradley c. 2012