We all go through seasons of uncertainty and confusion in life, times when what God is doing just doesn’t seem to make sense. I have been meditating recently in the book of Habakkuk, because my pastor has been doing a series in it, and there are wonderful truths in this small book to encourage us during times of waiting or questioning.
The book starts off with a series of questions by Habakkuk, in which he is open and honest with God about his struggle with God’s seeming indifference and toleration of wrong (1:2-4). The Chaldeans – a notoriously wicked and violent nation – have attacked the nation of Israel, and God’s people have great reason to fear for their homes and families. Why does God seem not to be listening? Why does God not do something?
Then, when God does respond to Habakkuk’s questions, His answer is even more perplexing! He tells Habakkuk that He has in fact raised up the Chaldeans – this wicked and violent nation – to accomplish His purposes (1:6)! This then leads to more questions by Habakkuk. He points to God’s eternal nature, His holiness, and His sovereignty. In essence, he says, “Ok God, so You have chosen a nation to punish Your people, and You are sovereign. But why this nation? Why a nation who is even more wicked than Your people? Where is the justice in that, Lord? What about Your holiness? Will You allow them to keep slaughtering nations mercilessly?” (2:12-17)
In response, God declares that there is a future judgment for the Chaldeans as well. They will have to face the wrath of a holy God, even though He chooses to use their evil for His own purposes. In the end, all the nations must acknowledge God and will be silenced before Him (2:20). And right in the middle of the sentence against them we find this declaration: “For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord’s glory, as the waters cover the sea” (2:14). Thus we see God’s ultimate purpose in punishing His own people, in using a wicked nation as His rod of discipline, and in ultimately bringing every nation to its knees before Him – that His glory might be manifest in all the earth!
It’s as if this reminder then stirs up the prophet’s own memory of God’s awe-inspiring works, and for 15 verses he describes vividly God’s awesome splendor and frightening power (3:1-15). His prayer is for God to accomplish His own work and make it known once again (verse 2).
Having paused to ponder and recount the deeds of the Lord and His majesty, Habakkuk trembles in awe before Him, knowing that he has no other response than to quietly wait for God to act in His time (3:16). And with that sense of awe comes a confidence in God and a recognition that He Himself is of supreme worth and entirely satisfying, even if all else is lost! Regardless of the outcome, Habakkuk can end with a triumphant declaration that he will rejoice in the God of His salvation!
How is this possible? Only because, having struggled openly before God with his own doubts and confusion and having had his focus turned back to God’s glory, he was once again in awe of God more than in awe of the circumstances around him. And when God is seen for Who He truly is, when His glory is valued as the greatest worth of all, then our hearts can be truly satisfied and confident in Him alone!
So, even though the economy collapses and I lose everything, even though my health fails, even though I lose those that are dearest to me, even though I see no visible fruit of my labor and prayers for people, even though “he” doesn’t write to me or ever show an interest in me again, and the list could go on… still, I can rejoice in God as long as He is my focus, because He is supremely valuable, entirely trustworthy, and completely satisfying! What a beautiful reminder from an obscure Old Testament prophet!