It may be that one of the most difficult things for us as Christians to do is also the most basic part of our response to the love of God and our life in Jesus Christ. And that is trusting God. Not the peripheral, “I believe in God” statements we make at various times. Don’t get me wrong, those statements are absolutely essential in our faith journey. But I’m talking about the “I still believe in God, and I still trust God, even though my life is not in a good place right now, and things definitely are not going my way right now. And honestly, right now I don’t quite understand God and the way He is acting. Or not acting. But I still trust Him.”
The Old Testament prophet Habakkuk was one of those guys. He took God to task and called Him out because He was not acting the way Habakkuk felt the all powerful, righteous God should act.
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)
So God responds. But the prophet is not going to like the answer. God tells him that He is raising up the hated Babylonians, “that ruthless and impetuous people,” pagans who “are a law to themselves and promote their own honor.” (Hab. 1:5-11) Once again, Habakkuk tells God He’s not acting the way the holy God should act.
Your eyes are too pure to look on evil; you cannot tolerate wrongdoing. Why then do you tolerate the treacherous? Why are you silent while the wicked swallow up those more righteous than themselves? (Hab. 1:12-17)
It’s a great question, and it’s one that we ask at times. Sometimes out loud, sometimes to ourselves. But we ask it nonetheless, when we feel it. “Why do others who are less righteous have it better than we who are more righteous? That’s not fair. That’s not right. That’s not the way God should act.” And in God’s response, He does not answer the charge. As great a question as it is, it is not answered. Not to Habakkuk. And not to us. God’s response is simple yet so very difficult and complex.
“The righteous person will live by his faith.” (Hab. 2:4)
Not the answer Habakkuk expected. Or wanted. Neither is it the one we want. God says, “You may not believe this. You may never understand it. So you’re just going to have to trust me on this one.” And that was enough for Habakkuk.
I heard and my heart pounded, my lips quivered at the sound; decay crept into my bones, and my legs trembled. Yet I will wait patiently for the day of calamity to come on the nation invading us. 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 tread on the heights. (Hab. 3:16-19)
Habakkuk had learned that God could be trusted. That he could wait for the Lord, even wait joyfully. That even when He and His actions or inaction could not be understood, God still could be trusted. He had come to believe that even when it didn’t seem like it, “The Lord is in His holy temple. Let all the earth be silent before Him.” (Hab. 2:20)
Do you believe that? Do you trust God enough to wait with your questions, your needs, your