Today’s Story of Faith comes from Daniel Howell, Minister at the Sweetwater Church of Christ in Sweetwater, Tennessee. He writes about Habakkuk and how much we have in common with the ancient prophet.
Sutherland Springs, Texas.
The names of these cities and towns may not have been familiar to many Americans until the last year, but unspeakable horror has brought them to our nation’s consciousness. Evil has a way of grabbing our attention that good sometimes does not have.
As we collectively try to process these events of mass murder, it has become apparent that there is “nothing new under the sun” (i.e. Ecclesiastes 1:9). Just as in ancient times, there are those who loudly mock anyone who would be so audacious as to offer “thoughts and prayers.” People of faith are sometimes portrayed as weak, delusional, and maybe even part of the problem. Meanwhile, those very people of faith often process these events by asking one simple question: “Why Lord?”
Though Habakkuk’s name may be unfamiliar to some, his situation is certainly relatable to ours. Likely a contemporary of Jeremiah, he lived during a time when his nation, Judah, was consumed with wickedness, and the world around him was in constant turmoil.
The first lines of Habakkuk are these: “O Lord, how long shall I cry for help, and you will not hear? Or cry to you, ‘Violence!’ and you will not save? Why do you make me see iniquity, and why do you idly look at wrong? . . . for the wicked surround the righteous; so justice goes forth perverted” (see 1:2-4).
Do those questions resonate with you? Do you feel like you’ve seen the very same things? Have you found yourself asking the very same things? If so, then Habakkuk is a book worth your meditation, because God provides a response to Habakkuk and anyone who has ever felt like him.
“Look among the nations, and see; wonder and be astounded. For I am doing a work in your days that you would not believe if told. For behold, I am raising up the Chaldeans…” (see 1:5-6). God’s judgment was just over the horizon from where Habakkuk sat. He would certainly bring an end to the injustice, the wickedness, the lawlessness in Habakkuk’s land, but his means of doing so may have been hard to accept, or even understand.
Habakkuk went on to question how God could use such an evil people to accomplish His judgment in 1:12-2:1. God’s response was fairly simple: they won’t escape My justice, either (see 2:6-20).
So where did that leave Habakkuk? And where does that leave us? Quite simply, with one of the more famous statements in all Scripture. Habakkuk 2:4 says, “the righteous shall live by his faith.” That concept is simple, yet difficult because no matter what, the righteous must keep their faith. Habakkuk learned (and likewise we can learn) that, (a) God always has a plan for dealing with such situations, and (b) a righteous person doesn’t have to know or completely understand that plan in order to continue to trust in the Lord.
Habakkuk ends with the following thought – even if evil and harm seem to temporarily prevail, and everything in my life falls apart, I will trust God, rejoice in the Lord, take joy in the God of my salvation, and claim Him as my strength (see 3:17-19).
If our problem is the same as Habakkuk’s, the solution is essentially the same. May we have the strength and courage to live by, and proclaim the same faith as him—to be faithful, no matter what.
Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version (ESV), copyright (c) 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.