How long, Lord, must I call for help
and You not listen
or cry out to You about violence and You do not save?
- Habakkuk 1:2
This feels as if it could have been written yesterday in response to the headlines of this year. A global pandemic, racism, nationalism, police brutality, riots, the disappointment of global leaders, decline of physical and mental health, to mask or not to mask, and now the cancellation of autumn sporting events? Oh! how long Lord….
In this season, have you found yourself like Habakkuk crying out to God, “Why do You force me to look at injustice? Why do You tolerate wrongdoing?”... “Your laws are ineffective, and where is the Justice?”
Or is the pressure coming from those around you? “Where is this “god of love” of yours?” “If he is so powerful why so much evil?...”
So we cry out with our questions that echo the Prophet: “Are you listening? Will you save?”
The book of Habakkuk is unique to other prophets. Generally, we read prophecy as a message given from God to his — often disobedient — people, but the first passage in Habakkuk is a prayer. First, Habakkuk speaks to God and then, God answers.
As a community, we are approaching God in a season of intense and focused prayer. Like Habakkuk, we pray with an expectation that God is a God who hears, and He answers. But also like Habakkuk, His answers could be baffling and unexpected.
God’s response to Habakkuk was not at all what the prophet imagined or even desired. God’s answer to his cry for help and justice was through an evil, violent, bitter, and impetuous nation - Babylon. (Hab 1:6) A bewildering response that not only challenges Habakkuk’s faith but ours as well.
Can God truly bring about good from evil?
Yet, good from evil is a theme that echoes throughout the whole bible. Here in Habakkuk, it foreshadows the incomprehensible wisdom of God, that the ultimate evil of the cross, would be the instrument used to bring about ultimate good, eternal salvation.
It is on the cross where justice and mercy meet. In the execution of the sinless Son of God, Jesus receives the penalty that God’s justice requires, and so by grace, through faith, we receive God’s forgiveness and the promise of eternal life.
It’s in light of this reality and promise, that we can continue to have faith amid frustration, and calm amidst calamity and chaos, to join in Joseph’s proclamation: “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good.” (Gen 50:20)
As we come before God during these 40 days, keep seeking, keep knocking, keep asking. Pray confidently to our God that hears our prayers and also answers. May your eyes and hearts be open to the opportunities and lessons God is weaving before your eyes, and trust in faith His ways are for your good.
Could God be answering your prayers in ways you haven’t recognised because they haven’t met your expectations?
What is preventing you from believing God listens and answers your prayers? What is getting in the way of trusting His way?
What heart attitude do you need to adopt in light of what Jesus has already done (i.e. the gospel)?
Fear -> Security
Guilt -> Innocence
Shame -> Honour
Anxiety -> Peace