Lessons From Habakkuk
Habakkuk has always struck me as being such a random book of the Bible. I decided to revisit it recently and I found the message about this prophet’s process with God so incredibly relatable to my journey now. The story and message found in this book are so beautiful and strike me personally. Instead of addressing a cultural situation or a people group, the book of Habakkuk gives us direct insight into the intimate dialogue between the prophet (Habakkuk) and God. I love the rawness and the realness in the conversation between Habakkuk and God because I often have similar conversations, similar reactions, and of course similar outcomes.
What’s the situation?
To give you some context, Habakkuk has been crying out to God in the midst of people around him doing evil things. He is confused by God as he does not feel like God is moving on behalf of the iniquity of the people. He is not understanding why things are happening the way they are and is frustrated not seeing God intervene in the way he has expected (see Habakkuk 1:2-4; 1:12-17).
God “answers” his complaint with this response— “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.” (Habakkuk 1:5)
This is where I feel for the guy. Have you ever felt like God answered one of you questions with something that really didn’t answer your question? I find getting these types of “answers” from God so relatable. Many times when I come to God with the WHY question, He doesn’t give it to me straight. What’s even more frustrating is when He answers my question in a “round about” way which actually leaves me with MORE questions than the one I had to begin with… I know I’m not the only one that’s experienced that.
In this passage, it feels like God is responding to Habakkuk’s frustration by saying “I know why I’m doing things the way I’m doing it, but I don’t need to tell you… and even if I did tell you, you wouldn’t believe it anyways.” Talk about frustrating!
Human Vs. Heaven’s Reasoning
Habakkuk then tries complaining a second time, this time using his understanding of God’s character as a way to reason against God’s process for dealing with the situation in the way He’s choosing deal with it. Habakkuk says “You who are of purer eyes than to see evil and cannot look at wrong, why do you idly look at traitors and remain silent when the wicked swallows up the man more righteous than he?” (Habakkuk 1:13)
Again, I so relate to this… have you ever said to God something along the lines of— “God, you wouldn’t allow this to happen if you were really good” or “If you were a just God then you would punish this person” or “If you really are a God that heals then this person would have been healed.” If you (like me) have thought or said something along the lines of this, you too have fallen into the trap of limiting God by human reasoning.
Many times we use our limited human understanding to try and interpret a limitless supernatural God. We attempt to understand God’s actions and if it doesn’t sit right with us, we judge whether He is being true to His nature (so funny isn’t it…)
The next chapter goes into more of a dialogue between God and Habakkuk where Habakkuk starts to let go of feeling a right and need to understand why and choose to trust instead. I love reading it because you can see Habakkuk struggle to let go of His need and desire to understand and relinquish his right to know things that only God needs to know. This is where it gets real, we have all gone through frustration within our faith. Though I’d never actively choose to go through frustrating experiences that cause me to question God, I’m thankful for them because it reveals my heart posture.
Ask The Right Questions
A quote I’ve heard once was — “If God’s not answering you, you’re probably asking the wrong question. Maybe instead of coming back with the same question, start taking about what He wants to talk about.” That quote, though so simple, was one of the most theologically shifting quotes I had ever come across.
Many times we press in and demand to know WHY God is allowing a process to play out the way that is is. Sometimes we get and answer and we’re relieved and move forward however when we don’t get an answer we immediately respond in frustration. We then jump to the assumption that either God doesn’t care or that He is being distant simply because we’re not getting the answers we’re looking for.
But if I can just be honest with you for a second— I would say that it’s really not that God is distant from you or ignoring you, it’s that He’s wanting to give you an opportunity to grow in your trust in YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH HIM over your trust in YOUR KNOWLEDGE of the situation. I have a big issue with our obsession with the “Why” question… my issue is that we often times disguise it as us “seeking God” when really it’s revealing our inability to put down our right to understand and really be able to trust Him.
So how do you grow in your ability to trust in God? Some people think growing trust in the Lord happens when there’s no other choice, unfortunately they’re wrong. It’s not trust if there’s only one option, that’s survival not trust. The only way you can grow in trust is to recognize situations where you have the option to trust in other things, but choose to put your trust and confidence God instead…when it doesn’t make sense. Stewarding trust happens on deeper levels by surrendering your right to demand the knowledge and understanding to interpret the circumstance, taking a child-like posture and resting His sovereign nature to take care of everything. When I said yes to God and told Him that He could have every part of my life, I also gave up my right to bargain with Him.
I encourage you to take a step and risk with God— I promise you that He will reward your ability to take a leap of faith and trust. And if you’re afraid of falling when you jump, don’t be…He has a great track record…