Habakkuk is one of my favorite books of the Old Testament for the simple reason that he has questions for God. I don’t know about you, but I can’t help but wonder about things sometimes, things like, “Why do bad things happen to good people?” or better yet, “Why do good things happen to bad people?” Habakkuk did a similar thing. He had concerns about what he saw taking place in the world, and he took those concerns to God, then waited for His answer.
This prophet asked God why the wicked prosper while the righteous suffer. He didn’t understand why the wicked in Judah were not punished. God’s answer to Habakkuk was “they don’t” — not in the long run. You see, the problem is not with God or His way, the problem is our limited understanding of Him. He sees all time and what the future holds, and we see only a speck of existence based on the life we’ve lived so far. Even though it seemed that evil would triumph, God’s answer showed Habakkuk that He was still in control, and He can be trusted to vindicate those who are faithful to Him.
If you’re struggling with your faith due to the endless supply of depressing news of growing evil, let me encourage you to talk to God. Have you heard of Gideon? He had few questions himself! Think about this, how on earth does one expect to get an answer unless a question has first been posed? Which brings me to another reason I love this book, and that is because the answers God gave Habakkuk, are the same answers that bring me confidence today. If we read God’s Word and seek Him… we will find Him, and find the answers we need. That doesn’t mean we will fully understand why, but that’s where faith comes in. Don’t confuse not receiving an answer with not understanding the answer.
Our feelings should not be controlled by the events taking place around us, but rather in God’s ability to handle things and give us the strength we need to bear our load when nothing seems to make sense. We are to be confident in God’s Word, and if He said he sees what’s going on, then He means it! Habakkuk rejoiced when God answered his questions. It’s important to note that Habakkuk did not respond with more questions or complaints, but accepted God’s response, wrote it down as God had instructed, and his faith was renewed. Even though the wicked in Judah did not disappear, or receive judgment right away, Habakkuk praised God and accepted that He would deal with evil in His timing.
Just look at these inspiring verses that close out this book after Habbakuk has received an answer form the Lord in chapter 3 verses 17-19, “17 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 herd in the stalls: 18 Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation. 19 The Lord God is my strength, and he will make my feet like hinds’ feet, and he will make me to walk upon mine high places.”
Habakkuk is resolved that no matter what form of destruction may come, whether crop devastation, loss of animals, or enemy invasion, he will be able to bear this load with strength given by God. God would make his feet like the hinds’ feet if he would just take his eyes off the difficulties surrounding him and focus on God’s sovereignty. God will also give you and I this surefooted confidence to climb mountains and cross treacherous terrain if we will ask.
I pray, “Father, I don’t understand why good people suffer, and I thank You that I can come to You and bring these concerns. Strengthen my heart and faith in You, because without You — where would my hope lie? I believe You when You say that You are in control, and that justice will come. How awesome You are! Take my thoughts and understanding, and make them as quick, agile, and confident as the hind, so that my heart and actions can follow. In Jesus’ name, amen.”
Rev. Cathleen N. Cathcart is pastor of New Life Worship Center in Spartanburg.