Day 38 Habakkuk 3:1-19
To wrestle with an idea is one thing, but to wrestle with God is quite another. We may contemplate an idea someone has expressed and treat it with objectivity and detachment. However, when we wrestle with God over something we have experienced or seen Him do, it can become a very personal, very exhausting endeavor. We find this sort of spiritual wrestling match in the book of Habakkuk.
The book begins with Habakkuk in a dialog with God. The prophet cannot understand why God continues to tolerate the evil being done. After all, He is God and could simply wipeout the evil doers and the suffering they are causing. It is still a common question today. Why does God tolerate the evil done in our world? Why doesn’t He simply squash those who continue to hurt others and disregard God? Rather than comfort the prophet Habakkuk, God knocks his feet out from under him by saying that God is going to use the evil Babylonian Empire to further harm Judah and its people. To the prophet and perhaps to our modern eye, it appears that God, whom we believe is good and just, is letting injustice and corruption run amok.
In chapter two the prophet, having presented his case and questions to God, seems to fold his arms and wait for God to offer an explanation. God tells Habakkuk to write down what He is about to say and have it ready to be spread throughout the land. Speaking to this man of God whose faith has been shaken but not broken, God makes it clear that no one is getting away with anything. Both those who do evil among the people of God as well as the Babylonians will suffer the consequences of their actions. God concludes his reply in Habakkuk 2:20 by saying, “But the Lord is in his holy temple; let all the earth be silent before him.”
Sometimes our prayer time with God can resemble this spiritual wrestling match. When we come honestly before God, we do express our frustrations and question why He does or doesn’t do certain things that don’t make sense to us. It can feel like a tug-of-war, with us pulling hard for an answer; holding on by faith. But if we will wait for His answer, God often speaks to our hearts or directs us to Scripture that helps us understand. Other times He may guide us to another person through whom He speaks to us. In the end, if our faith holds fast, we can come through it as Habakkuk did.
The prophet begins his prayerful reply to God in Habakkuk 3:2 with these words:
Lord, I have heard of your fame;
I stand in awe of your deeds, O Lord.
Renew them in our day,
in our time make them known;
in wrath remember mercy.
He seems to concede to God’s sovereignty and yet asks God to do as He has done before, showing mercy even amid His wrath. Habakkuk rehearses what God has done in the past. Then, very resolutely, the prophet declares his faith in God, concluding with these words
I heard and my heart pounded, my lips quivered at the sound; decay crept into my bones and my legs trembled. Yet I will wait patiently for the day of calamity to come on the nation invading us. Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior. The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to go on the heights. [Habakkuk 3:16-19]
Habakkuk is a mirror into our soul when we come prayerfully to God, asking the difficult questions and sticking around to receive His answer. We know that we may not always be happy with God’s answers to our questions, but our faith can stand in the end because we trust in God’s truth and goodness. As you pray, be willing to wrestle with God. Allow yourself to be transparent and express yourself freely with Him. God honors sincerity and will build up or, if needed, rebuild our faith regardless of the situation.