Sometimes, late at night, when the world is quiet and sleep will not come because my mind catapults from one problem to another, I will get up out of my warm bed, to stop the tossing, turning, and replumping of pillows, and go crank the Ranger and drive out into the pasture, park in the middle, then climb into the bed and lie down and gaze up into the night sky filled with a billion twinkling specks of light to remind myself I am not in charge! After waiting for a few minutes, my eyes adjust to the darkness and the points of light come into sharper view and coalesce into shapes of the Big Dipper, Orion the Hunter, Leo, Virgo, Taurus, Pisces, Gemini, Ursa Minor, and I even see a bit of the Milky Way. I think of the Scriptures telling me, “He put each star in its place and called them by name.” (Psalm 147:4) Sovereignty. Control. God is in no need of my assistance to solve the problems of the world or my domain. As I lay there in the cool of the night, I hear the coyotes howl, the owl’s hoot, and even the hum of insect wings next to my ears. The horses will come and hang their heads over the side for a nuzzle and I can smell their sweet scent and feel the softness of their mouth nibbling at my jacket searching for treats. My mind slowly winds down from its NASCAR pace to a slow thankful beat and finally rests in the Presence of the One who provided all this just for me and peace and sometimes sweet sleep will come in the middle of the pasture.
I am in good company. More than one Bible character wrestled with God asking questions of, “Why?” and “How long, Oh, LORD?” Questions asked in desperation. Questions asked with hands open to receive answers, towdah in Hebrew. Esther, Jonah, Jacob, Jesus, Job, Mary the mother of Jesus, Noah, Gideon, and Habakkuk: All used by God to answer our questions. Thank You, Father, for this grace!
Habakkuk. I relate to this prophet! He is a kindred spirit: Neither he nor I “get it.” The writings, of this author, tell me I may be on the right path on how best to communicate with my Heavenly Father: write down my questions and then listen and write down the answers. An ancient journaling habit. This is what this minor prophet did. He asks honest questions of “Why?” and “How long?,” and then after the answers are given, prays a prayer of praise and thanksgiving; even when the answers do not make sense at the time. (Isaiah 55:8-9) Three short chapters become a guide on how to seek God in the despair of the day.
I have asked “Why?” and “How Long?” more times than I care to admit. Like Habakkuk, Gideon, and Jonah, I did not always like His answer or His plan. Like Jonah, I sometimes want God to pour out His wrath on “enemies,” but not on me; like Habakkuk and Gideon, I wonder why God is using “enemies” to discipline me or mine. I NEED to know how much longer will I (we) be in the fire? And I certainly WANT His mercy!!!
Habakkuk means burden. This professional prophet (trained, probably part of the Levitical priesthood) carries the weight of his nation’s sin and judgement on his shoulders and takes this before God to seek mercy in His wrath against the “stiff-necked” nation of Israel. (Exodus 32:9, II Kings 17:13-14, Acts 7:51, and Hebrews 3:18) The writings of Habakkuk are quoted three times in the New Testament forming the “backbone” of “great doctrinal books of the New Testament:” Romans, Galatians, and Hebrews. (wikipedia) Romans 8:28 gives us the most succinct explanation of God’s intention: “All things work together for good to those who love the LORD and are called according to His purposes.”
In Habakkuk we learn the process of getting our questions answered: “Wrestling, Waiting, Praying, and Praising.” (insight.org)
This prophet’s writing is a reminder that “God is not mocked,” (Galatians 6:7) and He has a plan for those who oppose Him as well as for those who honor Him. (Deuteronomy 28-34) What I admire most about Habakkuk is he is SMART! He asked his questions and then was QUIET and he watches and waits for the answer and when the answer comes, he LISTENS. This is WISDOM! (Proverbs 9:10)
I appreciate the respectful way the prophet Jeremiah rephrases Habakkuk’s questions: “You are always righteous 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) Isn’t this the million dollar question? God’s answer to me: “this is the only heaven they may ever know, and this my daughter is the only hell you will ever know.” His mercy, in kodachrome, is on display. In Isaiah 33:1 the Lord says, “Woe, to you destroyer, you who have not been destroyed! Woe, to You, betrayer, you who have not been betrayed! When you stop destroying, you will be destroyed; when you stop betraying, you will be betrayed.” My sister calls this karma. God calls it holy justice. (Galatians 6:7)
God’s path leads through the sea, (Exodus 14:22, Psalm 77:19) but he makes our feet like hinds feet and leads us up and causes us to stand on the high places. (II Samuel 22:34, Habakkuk 3:19, and Psalm 18:33). The LORD will astound us with His wonders; while our wisdom will die, our intelligence will vanish. (Isaiah 29:14) We must wait patiently. (Hebrews 10:37) Praise him in the storm while you wait! Expect the unexpected!
Praise You in the Storm by Casting Crowns
Treading until He comes,