Every morning the radio wakes us up to the latest News –– international news, national news, local news. Whether it is ABC, CBS, Fox News or NBC, most of the News is bad. Innocent people have been shot; earthquakes have claimed many victims; parents have been arrested for abusing their children; the economy of another European nation has collapsed; teenagers have died in an alcohol-related head-on collision; a celebrity has been charged with murdering his spouse; children have died of drug overdoses. On and on it goes with one tragic story after another! To be honest, I am becoming increasingly frustrated by the affairs on earth; it cannot be good for human beings to wake up to such depressing stories day after day! By the time the News is over I am “down in the dumps.”
It occurred to me that Habakkuk endured a lot of bad news in his day. Perhaps you have not read of this seventh century BC prophet of God who wrote one of the shorter books in the Old Testament. The book bears his name. Habakkuk struggled with the realization that he lived in a world of crime, physical and mental abuse, addiction, promiscuity, bloodshed, stealing, escalating hostilities on an international scale, deadly diseases and universal injustice. His short book sounds very much like the News on today’s radio or the evening News on television. Habakkuk just could not reconcile how God could be loving and the whole world filled with evil. He decided he did not like the way God was running things; he went to God to complain.
“How long, O 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 wrong? 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).
He complained about the miseries of life that weighed so heavily upon him. The eternal and all-powerful God could not possibly be uninformed about what is happening on earth! Surely God could see the heart-aches! But why would He let it go on and on? Habakkuk wanted to know: “Why do you tolerate the treacherous? Why are You silent while the wicked swallow up those more righteous than themselves” (Habakkuk 1:13)?
God’s response to Habakkuk’s pitiful cry was to tell him that God was still active in the world, that He was going to do something that even the prophet himself would not believe (Habakkuk 1:5), something so startling and surprising that (as we say today) “you wouldn’t read about it in a book!” God had a plan. He was getting ready to raise up the Babylonian nation to punish wicked men of other nations for their terrible and cruel behavior toward their fellowman. Then, He was going to deal with Babylon for its cruelty and sins, as well. God knew about the bad news on the local level, the national level and the international level, and he was about to make sure that evil people did not get away with evil. In contrast to powerless and impotent gods (idols which though covered with gold and silver have no breath and cannot speak) the Lord God is very concerned about what’s happening, has the power to do something about it and is about to act!
Even though Habakkuk was unable to see all the providencial workings of the Eternal God; even though he could not see solutions to the problems, or how justice would eventually prevail on the earth, he trusted that God was powerful enough and concerned enough to guarantee that right would prevail in the end. His faith in the love of God would bring him through one more day. He would rise above despair because he believed in the God who had the answers.
The ancient prophet could be encouraged about his future. No matter how bad things might get before they got better (the Babylonians were still coming and there were hardships yet to be faced!) he knew he was on the Lord’s side and the Lord’s side is the winning side! The Lord had assured Habakkuk that “the righteous will live by his faith” (Habakkuk 2:4). No matter what, the Lord was still on His throne, His good will would be accomplished. He wrote: “The Lord is in His holy temple; let all the earth be silent before Him” (Habakkuk 2:20). When a person knows the Lord in his heart, believes in His power, trusts in His care and leans upon His strength he can have peace in his heart regardless of the tragic circumstances that surround him. Faith will chase away his fears! By faith he can stand upon the promises of God one day at a time.
By the time Habakkuk had finished his book, he had decided he did not need to complain about how God was running things; he would rest in the peace of God’s loving and providencial care:
“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 Savior. The Sovereign Lord is my strength; He makes my feet like the feet of a deer, He enables me to go on the heights” (Habakkuk 3:17-19).
May we do the same when we wake up to the bad News tomorrow morning!
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Very good article and perfect for the times we live in. We can choose to live in Faith and not in Fear. Sometimes we forget that in a fear filled world. Thanks!
Very encouraging article, David!
Your fellow servant,