My writings usually include scripture from the most recognizable books in the Bible. Yet, because all scripture is “God-breathed and useful for teaching,” (2 Timothy 3:16) I’ve often wanted to write articles inspired by the lesser known books. After praying about it, I was led to Habakkuk.
Well, there goes God showing His sense of humor. He sent me to a book I can’t pronounce, though the opening paragraph sure grabbed me.
“How long, O Lord, must I call for help, but you do not listen? Or cry out to you, “Violence!”, but you do not save? Why do you make me look at injustice? Why do you tolerate wrong? Destruction and violence are before me; there is strife, and conflict abounds. Therefore the law is paralyzed and justice never prevails. The wicked hem in the righteous, so that justice is perverted.”
I’m sensing that Habakkuk was not happy. Sounds like this minor prophet had major issues. So much for that warning about never questioning God. Habakkuk was having none of that, and you know what? God didn’t turn him into a chicken. Instead, God answered His servant.
All my life, I’ve heard that I shouldn’t wonder about the ways of the Lord. Never question, never complain—simply accept and move on like a Stepford Wife. Is that really what I’m supposed to do? Is it wrong to question God?
God patiently answered Habakkuk, just as He did Jeremiah who said, “You are always righteous, O Lord, when I bring a case before you. Yet I would speak with you about your justice: Why does the way of the wicked prosper? Why do all the faithless live at ease?” (Jeremiah 12: 1)
These were good questions, ones still being asked today. If they’re wrong to ask depends on the state of our heart. First, even though Jeremiah was scratching his head and Habakkuk appeared to be on turbo stress, these men never doubted God’s sovereignty or challenged His character. They knew their God, and approached Him with the desire for wisdom. God’s response indicates that He wasn’t put off by these genuine concerns.
Hebrews 11:6 teaches than anyone who comes to God must believe that He exists and rewards those who earnestly seek Him. Often, though, people don’t approach God with this attitude; they confront and demand proof that God is True. Frequently asked questions include:
“If God is all-powerful, why doesn’t He do something about evil?”
“How can a loving God allow suffering?”
Put this way, questions are riddled with doubt, rebellion and bitterness. They don’t acknowledge who God is, but question IF He is. They don’t seek understanding; they ask God to defend His goodness.
Habakkuk 2:20 says, “But the Lord is in his holy temple; let all the earth be silent before him.”
Does this mean God prefers that we be seen and not heard? No, these words celebrate that God is sovereign, real and trustworthy. God made the statement to Habakkuk after affirming what the prophet already knew—that He is who He says He is, and keeps every promise. He assured Habakkuk that He is at work, even if we can’t see it.
We live in a fallen world, one burdened with evil, disasters and tragedy. We’re all subject to the sufferings, though it does sometimes seem like the ungodly go untouched. God let it be known to Habakkuk that He is aware of everything and in control, and that all issues will be dealt with in His own time and manner. We can rest on this this, but only if we KNOW our God.
Personal tragedies sometimes seem to have no rhyme or reason. To think loved ones wouldn’t wonder why God allowed the suffering is unrealistic. The pat “there’s a reason for everything” doesn’t cut it when tragedy comes home.
I don’t have specific answers, but can say this: People persevere through suffering much better if they KNOW their God than if they don’t. Knowing God, through prayer and His Word, brings peace and hope in the midst of suffering. The Holy Spirit imparts comfort, guidance and wisdom as we struggle to make sense of what we don’t understand.
Understanding might involve asking questions—and the questions of a trusting heart that seeks understanding brings us into closer fellowship with our God, who invites us to approach Him with confidence, pray about everything and ask for wisdom. (Hebrews 4:16, Philippians 4:6, James 1:5)
Does God respond to questions? Yes, to those who know the One they’re asking.