Have you ever looked at the world around you and felt despair at the state of things? Please forgive me if that seems like a superfluous question to ask in 2020. If you have made that observation, and felt those thoughts, you aren’t alone. In fact, in a recent Harris Poll, 3 out of 5 American adults said that the issues our country currently faces are overwhelming to them.
The book of Habbakuk is about a similar time in the history of God’s people. The prophet Habbakuk looks around at the world and despairs about what he sees: Judah’s government is in turmoil, with foreign nations intervening in their affairs, taxes skyrocketing due to government debts, and their kings were notoriously not following God, but instead murdering men, taking their wives, and fulfilling their evil desires. Not only that, but the kingdom of Babylon was poised to attack and conquer their land. In the midst of all of these things, Habbakuk writes a beautiful account, unique in scripture, of a conversation between him and God.
In his opening prayer, he says:
Oh Lord, how long shall I cry for help,
And you will not hear?
Or cry to you, “Violence!”
And you will not save?
Why do you make me see iniquity?
And why do you idly look at wrong?
Destruction and violence are before me;
Strife and contention arise.
It’s as if he looks around and says to God, “Don’t you see all the terrible things that are going on down here? People are suffering and in pain! Sin is on the rise in our culture! Aren’t you even listening to me? I can’t believe you aren’t doing anything about this! Help!”
God’s response is surprising, to say the least. He says,
Look among the nations, and see;
Wonder and be astounded.
For I am doing a work in your days
That you would not believe if told.
We serve an amazing God, don’t we? In effect, He not only listens to Habbakuk’s complaint and raw emotion, loves him, and responds, but he in effect says, “Habbakuk, look around! I have been doing an amazing work, you just haven’t seen it yet. In fact, it is so incredible that it would be hard to believe if I told you about it.”
Psalm 19 says that God’s Word is sweeter than honey, or drippings from the honeycomb. We recently read Habbakuk during a Friday staff training, and these words have stuck with me, and the Holy Spirit has brought them continually back to my attention. With these words God brings a sweetness and peace to this often bitter season of our lives. I think God is telling me, and I believe He is telling you: “You are not alone. I am with you, and the things you see around you are not the final story. I am at work, and my plans for you, and for those you love are more wonderful than you could ever dream up on your own.”
His plans aren’t always easy, and they don’t always make us happy. In fact, God’s plan for Judah in the book of Habbakuk is for the Babylonian empire to invade, conquer, and for the people to suffer much pain and devastation. But His plan is for our good, and for the good of our children. Our God plays the long game, and we can put our hope and trust in Him.