Last week, we did a character study on Hannah from 1 Samuel 1 as she wrestled through the grief of having no children.
There are many others in Scripture who wrestled as they strove to follow God, and we will continue in studying the character of these contenders and let God reveal His character to us.
Perhaps, like Hannah, you are wrestling with the grief of not having. Whether it be children, a job, a friend to confide in, you grieve this missing. You are wrestling with God and wondering at this being withheld.
Perhaps you are wrestling with identity… who are you really? Who is Jesus really? Who is Jesus to you?
Perhaps you are wrestling with you’re purpose… what are you supposed to be doing with your life? Where do you fit in this world?
Perhaps you know you’re identity and purpose, but you are wrestling with the how… How do I live in this identity? How do I carry out this purpose?
I am wrestling too. I have questions with which I must contend. As I said in the intro to this series, let us not be alone in our wrestlings.
In wrestling, I find myself asking, “Why?”
Why is this happening? Why doesn’t this happen? Why do I feel this way? Why is there no answer? Why, God, why?
In Scripture, we find a man who also asked, “Why?” His name was Habakkuk and he was a prophet who wrestled. We find a dialogue between God and Habakkuk in the book of Habakkuk. Looking at this conversation, we may gain hope in the midst of our own “why’s?”
Habakkuk’s First “Why?”
“How long, 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 wrongdoing?” Habakkuk 1:2-3
In this first “why?”, Habakkuk asks why God is not helping him in the midst of suffering injustice. He wonders why a good God would tolerate wrong.
We all go through situations and circumstances that are beyond our control, but still cause us suffering. Maybe it’s a sickness. Maybe it’s loneliness. Maybe it’s losing a job. Maybe it’s losing a loved one. Maybe it’s abuse. And we wonder, why is this happening to us?
We experience hurt and strife in our own lives. We see pain in the lives of others. And like Habakkuk, we begin to despair. Will it never end? Does God really hear our prayers for relief? For healing? For peace? And if He does hear, why is there no relief?
But know this, we can ask God, “Why?” If we do not ask, how can we find the answer?
At the heart of the “Why?” is a seeking to know God more. To understand His goodness and love, and what that really means for us.
The Lord’s First Reply:
“Watch - and be utterly amazed. For I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe, even if you were told.” Habakkuk 1:5
This the promise the Lord gives as He begins His reply to Habakkuk. He then goes on to describe how He will raise up the Babylonians, a ruthless people, who will sweep over the land with violence, conquering the nation and taking captive its people (Habakkuk 1:6-11).
Habakkuk asked why God did not save from violence, and God’s reply is that there will be more violence; how does that work?
In the Old Testament, whenever the Israelites (for whom Habakkuk was a prophet) turned away from God, He would often allow them to be conquered by another nation to show them their need for Him. And even those who still followed the Lord would be taken captive.
Because we live in a fallen world, there is sin. Wrong-doing. Evil. Wickedness.
We suffer as a result of our own wrong-doing. And we also suffer as a result of others’ wrong-doings.
But, like in Old Testament times, God’s purpose can still be accomplished in the midst of suffering, and His love is never withdrawn.
Romans 8:28 promises that “God works all things for the good of those who love Him.”
God told Habakkuk to “watch and be amazed” because He was going to bring about His good, pleasing and perfect will even in the injustice and violence.
When we live in a love relationship with God, even in the midst of suffering, good will come. As we wrestle and ask “Why?”, even in the midst of hurt, we will begin to understand the goodness of God.
Habakkuk’s Second “Why?”
“Your eyes are too pure to look on evil; You cannot tolerate wrongdoing. Why then do You tolerate the treacherous? Why are You silent while the wicked swallow up those more righteous than themselves? The wicked catches them in his net and so he rejoices and is glad. By his net he lives in luxury and enjoys the choicest food. Is he to keep on emptying his net, destroying nations without mercy?” Habakkuk 1:13, 15-17
This second “why?” sounds a lot like the first. In this “why?”, Habakkuk is asking why the wicked are allowed to continue in their wrong-doing, and even prosper as they do so.
He heard God’s first reply, but he still didn’t understand. He was still trying to reconcile how God could be good, but allow all this bad.
In Habakkuk 2:1, Habakkuk says, “I will stand at my watch. I will look to see what He will say to me.”
Habakkuk chose to listen for God’s answer. To watch and look. To stay alert so he would hear. He didn’t just spout off His questions and then walk away.
When we bring our questions to God, we need to listen for His response. We need to hear what God has to say. It is the only way we will gain any understanding, any hope and any peace.
The Lord’s Second Reply:
“… the righteous will live by his faith…” Habakkuk 2:4
In chapter 2 of Habakkuk, we find the Lord’s reply. God gives several “woes” to those who steal, murder, are unjust, violent and put their hope in idols. The Lord warns that those who live this way may experience prosperity for a time, but in the end, all their wealth and material possessions will disappear, and their own lives with it.
But the righteous, those who put their faith in God, will live. Even in times of need, God will sustain the life of the one who trusts in Him, for now and for eternity.
Habakkuk’s Prayer: From Despair to Joy
“Even though the fig trees have no blossoms, and there are no grapes on the vines; even though the olive crop fails, and the fields lie empty and barren; even though the flocks die in the fields, and the cattle barns are empty, yet I will rejoice in the Lord! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation!” Habakkuk 3:17-18
Habakkuk ends with a prayer to God. A prayer of rejoicing, rather then the despair he first had.
In this dialogue with God, Habakkuk found he could place his hope and trust in God.
Even in suffering, he could trust God’s will would prevail. Even in pain, he could trust God would sustain his life. Even when his world fell apart, he could have hope.
As Habakkuk ends this prayer, he makes this declaration:
“The Lord is my strength, my bravery, my invincible army; He enables me to walk and make spiritual progress through trouble, suffering and responsibilities.” Habakkuk 3:19 (paraphrased from the Amplified Bible)
This declaration is a promise for you and I, as well. God’s answer for each of our “whys” will be unique to us, but we can know the Lord will be with us and help us walk through anything.
In our wrestling, as we ask our questions, God says to us “Watch and be amazed! During this time, I will work in you and through you.”
Will we watch? Will we trust? Will we let God work?
The post The Wrestling: Habakkuk first appeared on The Overflowing
Photography by Brian Mann, found on Unsplash. Edited by Jessica Faith
The Holy Bible, New International Version Copyright 1984, 2011
The Amplified Bible