Lord, I have heard of your fame; I stand in awe of your deeds, O Lord. Renew them in our day, in our time make them known; in wrath remember mercy. (Habakkuk 3:2)
Have you ever had times when you know God has spoken to you or promised something, but it seems to be taking ages for it to happen? If so, you’ll feel at home with Habakkuk, a contemporary of Jeremiah. Habakkuk lived in the days leading up to the Babylonian invasion of Jerusalem. His short recorded writings express his inner struggles that, not only did God’s ways seem unfathomable, they seemed downright unjust. To paraphrase his prayer dialogue with God, the conversation went like this:
Habakkuk: ‘God, why aren’t you answering our prayers? And why does evil prevail?’ (1:2).
God: ‘I’m about to do something you couldn’t believe - and I’m going to do it through the Babylonians!’ (1:5-11).
Habakkuk: ‘Wait a minute! How can a holy God like you do that? (1:13-17). Come on, God; give me an answer; I’m waiting!’ (2:1).
God: ‘You’ll just have to wait and see! It’s not time to tell yet! But believe me: it will happen (2:3); Babylon will be destroyed (2:4-17); and “the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea” (Habakkuk 2:14); and you, Habakkuk, are just going to have to trust me!’
We wonder how you would have responded at that point? A cry perhaps of ‘Oh not, not again! Not more waiting!’? It would have been very understandable if that was what Habakkuk had said; but rather, his response was one of praise to God in the face of difficulties, followed by an amazing declaration of trust (see today’s closing verses).
Here was a man who had not had all his questions answered; but he had met with God in prayer, and that had changed everything. He was ready to go on trusting – for as long as it took. What about you?
Though the fig-tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Saviour. (Habakkuk 3:17-18)
Copyright © 2017 Martin Manser and Mike Beaumont