I have always loved the book of Habakkuk. Ever since I was introduced to it by Hannah Hurnard when I read her allegory, Hinds Feet on High Places, long years back.
Habakkuk was a prophet to Judah, the last remaining vestige in the land of Israel. And he was struggling. He had watched as his people turned to corruption and idolatry. And he couldn't take it any longer. He had a meltdown.
So, he cried out "How long must I call to you for help and yet you do not listen, God? 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."
He doesn't just shout his consternation to the heavens.
He does something most us of don't do. We're not patient enough. He stood in the ramparts and waited for God's response. Who knows how long he waited there? But wait he did.
Chuck Swindoll says, we are perhaps the most effective when we deliberately decide to stop and wait. When we commit to stop complaining. When we agree to stop wrestling, stop fighting. When we cease the inner churning. That is exactly what Habakkuk did. He made a climatic decision: I'm going to wait and see what God says to me.
Faith is not about silencing our doubts so that we will never struggle again. Faith is trusting God even as we struggle.
When he discovered that Babylon would be intervening in Israel's affairs, that really threw him into another tailspin. And all the questions and wrestling began all over again. He knew Babylon's reputation. That God would allow them, viler by far than Israel, to invade and take captive his people, he was horrified. Terrified for his people. Terrified for himself.
Over time, however, as Habakkuk continued to struggle with God's decision, he began to come to peace with it. He turned his inner churning into leaning on God's heart for he and his people.
He remembered the words that David wrote…
But, you oh Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness. Psalm 86:15
And Jeremiah's words…
I have loved you, my people, with an everlasting love. With unfailing love, I have drawn you to myself. Jeremiah 31:3
Although his circumstances remained unchanged, his attitude had been transformed.
Listen to these words of Habakkuk, even if the fig tree does not blossom and there are no grapes on the vines, if the olive trees fail to give fruit and the fields produce no food, if the flocks die far from the fold and there are no cattle in the stalls…
Yet I will still be glad in the Lord and rejoice in God my Savior.
I wonder if we could say the same.
We worry and stew. Our insides churn as we ponder the future of our country.
If our circumstances remained unchanged, is it possible for us to have an attitude shift as Habakkuk did?
This is why I love the book of Habakkuk. He was an amazing example of stopping in his tracks and waiting, of wrestling down his fears and of putting his entire trust in the God he knew loved him and his people.
And this is my favorite verse in all of Habakkuk…
The Lord God gives me my strength. He makes me as surefooted, as agile, as a deer, and enables me to negotiate even the rugged terrain and keeps me safe on the mountains. —Habakkuk 3:19