The Prophet Habakkuk’s name means, “the wrestler”, and here he is wrestling with the question of why God would allow evil to seemingly go unpunished. But that same query has been echoed down through the ages by both Believer and unbeliever…”Why doesn’t God do something about evil?!” Even today, we can look around and see the oppression and despair of the innocent and weak, while violence and wickedness seems to be winning over the streets everywhere. So just like Habakkuk, we wrestle. We grapple with Scripture like II Peter 3:9 that reminds us that God isn’t slow in keeping His promises for He doesn’t want anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. We contend with the idea that God’s thoughts are not our thoughts, and His ways, not our ways.(Isaiah 55:8) But at the end of our wrestling match we need to remember… He is God and we are not…nor will we ever control His hand or even begin to understand His plan.
Habakkuk is asking, “Where are You God? And why aren’t You doing something about this situation? Our most basic needs aren’t being met. Don’t You care about us?” This is a very common response when anyone is in the midst of troubles…our vision is very myopic, only seeing what’s right in front of us, not any further. But it’s not until we can look beyond and see God’s “Big Picture” that we, like Habakkuk, can say, “In spite of what I see around me…regardless of this present situation, I will put my trust in You God! I will place my faith in You for I know You will provide.”
The gist of this Scripture is repeated in Habakkuk 2:3-4 where it says, ” But the righteous will live by faith. And if they shrink back, I will not be pleased with them.” We all claim to have faith and trust in God…but do we really? Shrinking back is hesitation and self-doubt that we can really do what God is calling us to. Sure, we can believe for great miracles in someone else’s life…but when it comes down to trusting God in our own, we falter. Self-doubt can effectively stop any Kingdom work the Lord has for you…for when you hesitate, you’re essentially telling God you don’t trust Him. We are to live by faith, believing that if God calls us to something, He will equip us also.
The writer of Hebrews is paraphrasing Habakkuk 2:3-4 in this passage. He’s stressing that our spiritual walk is made up of constant, focused, decisions to trust and obey the Lord…even when we can’t see change. He warns us against retreating or drawing back from trials simply out of fear. If you’re in the middle of a storm today, don’t allow fear to rule your life…don’t hesitate when apprehension rises in your throat…rather make a conscious decision to listen to that still small voice of the Holy Spirit and walk by faith.
So many times our humanness gets in the way of a right relationship with the Lord. In a twisted form of arrogance, we place our wretched past up on a pedestal and proclaim it to be “too terrible” for the Lord to forgive. Yes, your past may be riddled with bad choices…but nothing God hasn’t forgiven beforehand. Murder, adultery, rape…the list goes on in the Bible of deplorable actions done by people in difficult situations. But when they took responsibility for their sins and asked forgiveness…God forgave them. For there’s nothing so serious, so vile, that God’s redemptive power can’t forgive.
Habakkuk’s name means “wrestler”…and throughout this book, he wrestles with the question of why God would let evil go unpunished. We could easily ask the very same question today. Why do violent, murderous people continue to prey on the innocent? Where is Your justice Lord? It’s an age-old question that humanity has struggled with forever, and may never fully understand.
Everyday we hear of wickedness, injustice, and oppression…and we wonder…is God even paying attention? Doesn’t He hear their cries for help? Why doesn’t He rescue those who are perishing? Habakkuk was observing the same upheaval in his day, and asking the same questions…”Why aren’t You doing something God?” As humans, we think we know what’s best…but we’re not God, nor do we have His wisdom and sovereignty over all situations.
There comes times in everyone’s life when we feel all is lost and ruined…everywhere we look in our lives we see devastation and destruction. When we are staring at this bleak landscape called our life, we need to do what Habakkuk did. He used one tiny word to change his mindset and attitude. That word was “yet”. That little word allowed him to place his focus on and draw strength from his Lord and Savior, and in doing so was able to rejoice in the face of ruin.