On Oct. 30, I will be celebrating 17 years of survival from a very traumatic automobile accident.
I do not remember much from that night except what has been brought back to me from flashbacks and what people have informed me. I have a Bible that I took to work with me every night as I worked as a USDA food inspector. On Oct. 30, 2001, I was trying to avoid hitting an automobile head on that was turning in front of me. As my Chevrolet Blazer barrel rolled four times, I went out through the windshield as well as my Bible.
Thirty-five feet from my automobile I was found with my Bible next to me. After a long hospital stay and months of rehabilitation, I was looking through my Bible one day and noticed a fragment of glass from my windshield. It was there at the beginning of the book of Habakkuk. Later on I did some research of Habakkuk because I wanted to know what God was speaking to me from the book of Habakkuk.
Have you ever watched the evening news with all the violence and injustice in the world and in frustration asked, “Why isn’t God doing something?” Habakkuk was wrestling with a difficult issue. If God is good, then why is there evil in the world? And if there has to be evil, why do the evil prosper?
There is an important distinction between God controlling evil and God creating evil. God is not the author of sin, but He can use sinful men to attain an objective. God works “all things” both good and bad for His Glory. God can use struggles, heartaches, hurts, pain and tragedies in ways that will bring about His glory and our good. Such events, even though we don’t understand them, are part of His perfect, divine plan.
If God could not control evil, He would not be God. His sovereignty demands that He is in control of everything. God does use evil to accomplish His will. We may struggle with questions about God’s methods as Habakkuk did. How God chooses to operate is up to Him. Most people will tell you it is easier for them to thank God when things are going well, but it’s not easy during hard times. Habakkuk makes the vow to thank the Lord even during times of hardship. Habakkuk promised not to allow anything to get in his way of praising and rejoicing in the Lord. Not loss, stress, worry, anxiety or tension. Habakkuk’s joy was not dependent on physical blessings.
The name Habakkuk means to “embrace” or “wrestle.” Habakkuk was transformed when he listened to and accepted God’s word. The 56 verses reminds us that we must stop assuming things about God and allow Him to speak to us through His Word. A great transformation will take place when this happens.
Habakkuk is a conversation between a frustrated man of faith and a God whose ways he cannot understand. If God desires to have a meaningful relationship with us, it will require dialogue. And dialogue requires questions. Communication is not merely about form and function. I care about you, what you think, and how you feel. The only way I can know you is to ask genuine questions.
God knows the answers but He will test us to see how we will respond. I don’t want God to merely forgive me but also help me move away from the sin I struggle with. Habakkuk was wondering why God was allowing His chosen people to go through the current suffering at the hands of their enemies. God answers Habakkuk by saying, “You would not believe it if I told you.” Again Habakkuk wanted God to tell Him more, why is this happening? And God gives Habakkuk more information. And Habakkuk’s faith is restored. Faith is a choice you make. I have learned through my tears that my only confidence is in God and God alone. God’s ways will sometimes make no sense to us. Psalm 115:3; “Our God is in heaven and He does whatever pleases Him.” God is God and we are not. Habakkuk is a book that is Habakkuk’s prayer and song. Chapter 3 is a song of praise and adoration to God. Habakkuk writes a prayer in the form of a hymn expressing his strong faith even through his trials.
Habakkuk “knew” God was unchanged. While things in the world will change, God will not. Malachi 3:6 and Hebrews 13:8. God and His promises will not change nor fail us. Life is not as stable and certain as we may think, but there is one thing that is — our salvation. Everything else can be taken from us — our job, house, health, ability to communicate, our freedom, — but our salvation is certain. God can use everything in our lives to glorify Him and bring us to salvation. Since God knows and is working everything out according to His plan and purpose. We can praise God even in difficult times. The Bible informs us that it rains on the just and the unjust in Matthew 5:45. Our only real security is God Himself. The Bible, in short, is a story of struggle for survival in the midst of devastating circumstances. Trauma can be a chance for spiritual refocusing. The Bible presents trauma as an opportunity to focus more intently on strict worship of God alone.
Habakkuk told of his own experience with God – his questions to God are much like ours at times. Habakkuk is a man with questions. Habakkuk asks God, “Why don’t You do something? Why doesn’t God move in the affairs of men and stop the violence and injustice and suffering?” Habakkuk was a prophet, and yet he still had some questions he brought to God. Does God care? Is God fair? Is God there? Finally instead of Habakkuk asking God to answer his questions as before, Habakkuk answers it himself, as he reflects on God’s works and wonders.
This book opens in gloom and closes in glory. Habakkuk asks, “Why?” Why God permits evil is a question that every thoughtful mind has faced. The theme of Habakkuk is faith. Habakkuk has been called the prophet of faith. Habakkuk later channeled his frustrations into prayers and praise. God never explains Himself. He rarely gives reasons. The events that unfold in our world seldom make sense. Tragedy is hard to understand and hard to explain.
Though we do not understand God’s ways or timing, we cannot doubt His wisdom, love, or reliability. Habakkuk affirmed that even if everything he relied on failed, if everything that gave stability to his life crumbled, still he would trust in the Lord. Even in the pits of tragedy, God is still there. He is present and He assures us of His presence. Pain is real. And God is real, too. That’s where faith comes in. God is there for you and He will never leave you. He cares too much for you. Even if the night is dark and the storm is raging, “know” that God is with you. Even when you can’t see the Hand of God, you can trust the Heart of God. Trust Him without explanation, logic and reasoning. Trust Him because He is God.
Through Habakkuk’s time of prayer and reflection, he finally comes to a place of hope and confidence is God that allowed him to praise God with rejoicing as he anticipates the most difficult of circumstances. Hebrews 11:6(a), “Without faith it is impossible to please God.”
The faith that is the gift of God and available through Christ is a faith that saves, and a faith that sustains throughout life. It is permissible to question what God is doing with respect and reverence. Sometimes we question why we suffer for periods of time, or our enemies are prospering and we are just barely getting by. The book of Habakkuk affirms that God is a Sovereign, Omnipotent God who has “all things” under control. We just need to be still and know He is at work. He is Who He says He is and He keeps all of His promises. By seeing God as our source of strength, we can trust God’s promises.
Where is God when your world falls apart? This is a question Habakkuk wrestled with. We must learn to have faith in God when life makes no sense, God’s plan and ours are often not the same. In the first chapter of Habakkuk, faith is tested. (The burden that Habakkuk saw, something grievous, the problem) The second chapter, faith is taught. (The vision). The vision is God’s solution to the problem, “the prediction.” And in the third chapter, faith is triumphant. “Though things may get bad, yet I will rejoice in the Lord.” However bad things may get, I’m going to find my joy and strength in the Lord. Habakkuk asks God why He was allowing Him to endure these trials and hardships. God told Habakkuk that if he persevered, he would experience riches greater than he ever imagined. Habakkuk just had to trust in God’s perfect plan because his trials were preparing his life to be even better.
Habakkuk remembered God’s goodness in times past and concluded that God was worthy of praise. The prophet may have lacked olives and grapes, cattle and sheep, but he would never be without God. Habakkuk praises God specifically for salvation. God not only could save. God is salvation. Habakkuk also recognizes the Lord as his strength. By seeing God as our source of strength, we can trust God’s promises.
Those who do trust in God can and do question God. God is doing something and He is going to use the wicked. God doesn’t always give us the answers we want or expect. We usually have it in our mind how we want God to answer our prayers. When you are talking with someone who has just experienced a tragedy, don’t just tell them “God is good and He loves you and He will work things out for the best.” We should cry with them, hurt with them question with them. Help them work through the pain not ignore it. People have feelings and questions. You either suppress them or express them. It is faith in God that makes us believe that there is light at the end of the tunnel which helps us make it through.
Let’s try to put good songs in our minds that can teach us of God and encourage us in times of trouble. Habakkuk reminded the people through songs, of God’s work and His mercy for those who repent. He reminds them of the great deeds that God has done in bringing the people out of captivity in the past.
Romans 1:17, Galatians 3:11 and Hebrews 10:38 are quoted from Habakkuk. Habakkuk 2:4 is the background of their message: “The just shall live by faith.” Habakkuk’s prayer was a song of worship where he was adoring God for Who He is praising Him for what He has done and glorifying Him for what God will continue to do over and over again…Habakkuk marks a shift in Habakkuk’s hymn from request to praise. God is our sunrise of freedom and hope.
Milley Brewington is a guest columnist for The Sampson Independent.