The pronouncement that the prophet Habakkuk saw. How long, LORD, must I call for help and you do not listen or cry out to you about violence and you do not save? Why do you force me to look at injustice? Why do you tolerate wrongdoing? Oppression and violence are right in front of me. Strife is ongoing, and conflict escalates. This is why the law is ineffective and justice never emerges. For the wicked restrict the righteous; therefore, justice comes out perverted.
Why and How
Research shows that children start asking “why” and “how” between the ages of three and five. These are normal questions that help them learn about relationships and their environment. Questioning may begin in childhood but it continues into adulthood. The questions get deeper and the answers may be more difficult to hear, often requiring a commitment to ruthless trust. What kind of why and how questions are you asking? Maybe they are similar to Habakkuk’s.
How Long, Lord?
As the book of Habakkuk begins, we get to listen in on a conversation the prophet is having with God: “How long will I cry to you and you do not listen? Why do you tolerate wrong?”
Have you ever asked these questions? Maybe someone has betrayed you and broken your heart, or maybe your sweet, questioning child thinks he can now find the answers through drugs. Perhaps conversations about war, political division and money have increased your anxiety to unbearable levels. How long, Lord; how long?
Childhood conversations of why the sky is blue pale in comparison to the brokenness that we encounter everyday. And sometimes God feels very far away. At such times, we may – like Habakkuk – sound hopeless, but the prophet shows us where to go when we long for hope. When all we can do is cry, he shows us the question is not, “How long will I cry?” but, “How do I trust You, God, through my tears?”
Facing the Pain
In the crisis, Habakkuk didn’t turn his back on God but faced Him with the full force of his pain. By talking about what was missing in the world around him, he reminds us of what is true about God. He helps us remember God’s justice, compassion, and responsive heart. Violence and destruction are not present because God is absent but because people choose to live without Him. As we move through this book, we see that Habakkuk returns to what he knows is true about God. He knew he couldn’t live without Him, so he held on to God with ruthless trust until God answered. In the same way, we ask because we believe there is an answer.
Where do you go when your heart is broken and the questions keep coming? God is strong enough to bear the full force of our pain. We know that is true because He did it on the cross.
Take some time to think about the cries of your heart. What are some ways that you are talking to God about your pain? What are your questions for him? Don’t be afraid to share the deepest corners of your heart with the One who created your inmost being. He knows what’s there already and he longs to hear you say it. He is strong enough to bear your pain.