God, Are You Listening?
This past week, hearts ached around the United States as we watched with horror and deep sadness the news of yet another school shooting unfold, this time at a community college in Oregon. In the days following the tragedy, news reports and internet newsfeeds were filled with outrage, questions, and lament. But as blogs, newspaper articles, and talking heads either applauded and decried President Obama’s response or debated what could or should be done to prevent similar situations from occurring in the future, I thought of the opening verses of Habakkuk:
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? Destruction and violence are before me; there is strife, and conflict abounds. Therefore the law is paralyzed, and justice never prevails.The wicked hem in the righteous, so that justice is perverted. (Habakkuk 1:2-4)
Here on Groundwork, we decided to study the book of Habakkuk earlier this summer, long before the current events took place. But the resonance of Scripture once again proves both timely and timeless.
Who is Habakkuk?
Here’s an ever so brief synopsis: Habakkuk is a prophet in the Old Testament. If you’re anything like me, the prophets are the last place I look when I have a burning question. My instinct is to check the gospels to find what Jesus had to say about it, the apostolic letters to discover what Paul and Peter taught the early Christian churches, or the Psalms and Proverbs for a bit of wisdom. But as I’ve read and studied the book of Habakkuk in preparation for this series, I’ve been surprised by how much resonance this short prophetic book carries today.
Reasons You Should Read Habakkuk
Still curious if Habakkuk will really resonate with you? Consider these statements. If you say “yes, that’s me” to any of them, then I guarantee you’ll find encouragement and strength for your faith by encountering the prophet Habakkuk.
- You’re lamenting the state of the world or the state of the church today and wish people would hear the truth, repent, and turn back to God.
- You seek justice for God and wonder why he allows injustice to persist unpunished.
- You want God to be honored and respected.
- You desire to know what to do in the face of unanswered prayers.
- You need encouragement for living faithfully even when it feels like the world around you is hostile to God and fellow Christians are ignoring biblical truths.
3 Things You can Expect from Habakkuk
If you responded ‘yes’ to even one of those statements, I encourage you to take the plunge. When you read and study the rich book of Habakkuk, you can expect to:
- Realistically adjust your expectations for how people will respond to your witness. People will react to you and your faith in different ways. How can you be reasonable in your expectations?
- Receive the strength to keep praying. The prophet Habakkuk is an exemplary model of this. He’s persistent. He never stops coming before the Lord. And from him, we can learn a lot.
- Explore the problem of evil. As bad things happen in the world we naturally ask “How can God let this happen?” Habakkuk gives us the tools to understand how God does not actually cause bad things to happen to us, but can use those bad things for his good purposes.
By Courtney Jacob