“Why, God?” “How long, Lord?” “Why do You allow evil to prosper?”
Habakkuk, an Old Testament prophet, came before the Lord to ask these age-old questions. He lived at a time when the nation gave very little honor to their God. Violence and lawlessness abounded, yet God was silent. Does this sound familiar? Do you have similar questions today? The short book of Habakkuk gives us powerful and practical lessons for our own lives and offers encouragement and insight into how we can rejoice despite our questions, disappointments, times of waiting, and even our most difficult of circumstances.
In Habakkuk chapter one, we find one of the greatest confessions of faith found in Scripture. The scene opens with the cry of a man who has a problem he cannot solve. “How long, O Lord, must I call for help, but You do not listen!” Habakkuk was confused and bewildered. It seemed to him that God was doing nothing to straighten out the conditions of the world, which was in an upheaval. Worst of all, his own land was full of lawlessness and tyranny, soon to be invaded by a merciless enemy. The righteous were being oppressed. The people were living in open sin and were worshipping idols. Habakkuk knew that the days were dark. He knew that the sin was leading to an invasion of Jerusalem by a strong enemy and that many people would go into exile or be slain. He knew that the land would be ruined and the temple destroyed. Habakkuk wondered what God was doing. Yet, he tells God that he will trust no other. If Habakkuk had depended on his feelings, he would never have made this great confession of faith. When he looked ahead, he saw a nation headed for destruction. When he looked within, he saw himself trembling with fear. When he looked around, he saw everything in the economy about to fall apart. But when he looked up in faith, he saw God, and all his fears vanished. To walk by faith means to focus on the greatness and glory of God. “In quietness and confidence shall be your strength (Isaiah 3:15).” Habakkuk could wait quietly because he knew that God would work no matter what.
Habakkuk climbed the watchtower to wait for God. He expected God to answer him. Everything was in ruins around the prophet: buildings were destroyed, treasures were plundered, and farms and orchards were devastated. There would be nothing to sing about, but God was still on the throne working out His divine purposes for His people. Habakkuk couldn’t rejoice in his circumstances, but he could rejoice in his God! There is only One to whom He could turn. So, he waited expectantly for God. God said, “Wait and see what I will do!” Evil will perish; righteousness will remain before God. Habakkuk sang in the night and after a sincere prayer, God’s glory appeared. God always responds to the cry for help from His people. Habakkuk realized that God was in control of His universe and that He was working out His own purpose in His own time. God cannot always give our finite minds a satisfactory answer because we cannot grasp the thoughts of the infinite. His thoughts are high above our thoughts; we can trust Him! We can therefore rejoice in Him! Habakkuk discovered that God was his strength and song, as well as his salvation, and that he had nothing to fear!
“Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines;
the labour of the olive shall fail; and the fields shall yield no meat;
the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no heard in the stalls:
Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation.”
– Habakkuk 3:17-18
What are your “althoughs” today? Are your trees not blossoming? Vines not bearing fruit? Is your life barren? Have you spent hours laboring with little or nothing to show for your efforts?
Perhaps you are dealing with difficult family problems, strained relationships, misunderstandings in ministry, or any number of countless hardships and trials. Whatever the “although” of your life may be, one certainty exists: Jesus sees, He knows, and He is even right now working all these things together for good. He is your strength in every circumstance.
Habakkuk chose to rejoice even in the midst of a difficult situation. He found his joy in the God of his salvation.
What choice are you making today? Regardless of what circumstances you may find yourself in, you have a choice as to how you will respond. By His grace and through the strength He supplies, choose today to trust and rejoice in the Lord despite your circumstances; fix your eyes not on the difficulty of the situation but on the God of your salvation! G. Campbell Morgan said, “Our joy is in proportion to our trust. Our trust is in proportion to our knowledge of God.”
Remind yourself today who your God is! He is: Wonderful Counselor, Everlasting Father, Mighty God, Prince of Peace! His names remind us of all that He is and help us to know Him better. Compare God’s names with your “althoughs.” When put side by side, we realize our concerns don’t seem as big when placed in God’s loving, capable hands. He is the God of our salvation! Let us rejoice in Him! Make Him your song!
When from my life the old-time joys have vanished,
Treasures once mine, I may no longer claim,
This truth may feed my hungry heart, and famished;
Lord, THOU REMAINEST! THOU art still the same!
When streams have dried, those streams of glad refreshing,
Friendships so blessed, so rich, so free;
When sun-kissed skies give place to clouds depressing,
Lord, THOU REMAINEST! Still my heart hath THEE.
When strength hath failed, and feet, now worn and weary,
On gladsome errands may no longer go,
Why should I sigh, or let the days be dreary?
Lord, THOU REMAINEST! Could’st Thou more bestow?
Thus through life’s days - whoever or what may fall me,
Friends, friendships, joys, in small or great degree,
Songs may be mine, no sadness need assail me,
Lord THOU REMAINEST! Still my heart hath THEE.