“When I heard, my body trembled; my lips quivered at the voice; rottenness entered my bones; and I trembled in myself, that I might rest in the day of trouble. When he comes up to the people, he will invade them with his troops. Though the fig tree may not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines; though the labor of the olive may fail, and the fields yield no food; though the flock may be cut off from the fold, and there be no herd in the stalls-- Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation” (Habakkuk 3:16-18).
How do you feel when you have been praying about something and it appears God’s answer makes no sense to you? How do you handle it when you struggle to understand God’s ways? Does it weaken your faith or to do you continue to cling to your faith in the midst of such struggles?
The prophet Habakkuk ministered during the last days of the nation of Judah. Initially, he struggles with understanding why God does not administer justice more quickly because of all the sinful people inhabiting the land: “O Lord, how long shall I cry, and You will not hear? Even cry out to You, ‘Violence!’ and You will not save. Why do You show me iniquity, and cause me to see trouble? For plundering and violence are before me; there is strife, and contention arises. Therefore, the law is powerless, and justice never goes forth. For the wicked surround the righteous; therefore, perverse judgment proceeds” (Habakkuk 1:2-4).
However, when God tells Habakkuk that He is going to carry out His justice by using the nation of Babylon (i.e. also known as Chaldea) to conquer Judah (Habakkuk 1:5-11), Habakkuk struggles to understand how God can use a more wicked nation (i.e. Babylon) to be the instrument to carry out God’s justice on a less wicked nation (i.e. Israel). Habakkuk says, “You are of purer eyes than to behold evil, and cannot look on wickedness. Why do you look on those who deal treacherously, and hold Your tongue when the wicked devours a person more righteous than he?” (Habakkuk 1:13).
In His answer to Habakkuk, God reminds him that even though the leader of the Chaldeans is proud and that God will use him to be His instrument to punish the wicked of Israel, the faithful among God’s people shall still continue to live by faith in God. God states, “"Behold the proud, his soul is not upright in him; but the just shall live by his faith” (Habakkuk 2:4). God still expects His people to cling to their faith even when they don’t always understand God’s ways.
God would deal with the wicked nation of Babylon later because of their own wickedness (cf. Habakkuk 2:5-19). God is awesome and perfect and He should be held in reverence by all men: “But the Lord is in His holy temple. Let all the earth keep silence before Him" (Habakkuk 2:20). As the opening verses above indicate, to Habakkuk’s credit he will still cling to his faith in God even though he doesn’t understand all of God’s ways (Habakkuk 3:17-18). Habakkuk’s name means “One who embraces or clings”. He lived up to his name as he clung to God in faith!
The book of Habakkuk is a powerful reminder to me that I must cling to my faith in God especially in times when His ways make no sense to me. I am constantly amazed at the ways in which God not only works His Will in the accounts I read about in the Bible, but also in the events in my own life. Today, I will strive to cling to my faith even during times when I don’t understand all of God’s ways.
“‘For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,’ says the Lord. ‘For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts’” (Isaiah 55:8-9).