© 2020 Chip Kawalsingh / Harvest City Church
Though the fig tree may not blossom, Nor fruit be on the vines; Though the labor of the olive may fail, And the fields yield no food; Though the flock may be cut off from the fold, And there be no herd in the stalls— Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation. The LORD God is my strength; He will make my feet like deer’s feet, And He will make me walk on my high hills. (Habakkuk 3:17-19, NKJV)
Our plans for tomorrow can feel like an overwhelming impossibility. No matter how hard we work to set things in place to enable our wishes and desires, we soon come to the realisation that our efforts are not enough and our success is all in the hands of the Lord. As Scripture reminds us:
Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails. (Proverbs 19:21, NIV)
The longer you live, the more clearly you see that life is about more than positions, titles and status. You understand that which matters the most must not fall at the mercy of that which matters the least. When I read about men like Joseph, Joshua, and David, I read about impossible moments and traumatic, life-changing experiences, yet they all went on to do great exploits for the Lord.
Joseph went from the pit, to the prison and ended up in the palace. The Bible tells us: ‘God was with Joseph’ (Genesis 39:2, NIV). Joshua was one of the 12 spies who went to investigate the promised land. Only he and Caleb saw that God was greater than any giant, both declaring: ‘We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it!’ (Numbers 13:30, NIV). David—who slayed Goliath and conquered cities and mighty armies—experienced disloyalty like no one else when his son Absalom betrayed him, yet David was known as ‘a man after [the Lord’s] own heart’ (1 Samuel 13:14, NIV). God can handle all of our shortcomings and failures; He can swiftly deal with anything we are facing, be it physically, mentally or emotionally.
As a son, husband, father and pastor, I’ve faced many moments in life when I’ve questioned whether things would ever work out for me. Would I amount to anything? Would I ever achieve anything worthwhile? This is when the Lord led me to the prophet Habakkuk, the man who (like Jacob) wrestled with God! Not only did Habakkuk wrestle with God, he also questioned Him.
Can we, mere mortals, question Almighty God, the creator of the heavens and the earth? Yes, of course we can! No matter how educated, gifted, old (or young) we may be, we all have moments when we wobble or shake with uncertainty about tomorrow. If we ever need answers, we should ask the one who holds our tomorrows. After all, we are His workmanship (Ephesians 2:10). When Habakkuk questioned God, it created a level of intimacy between them that no one else in Habakkuk’s time experienced. They talked about tomorrow when today made no sense.
There are times when my prayers feel powerless. Have you ever felt that way, when you keep asking and God does not reply? Habakkuk felt that way: ‘How long, O Lord, must I call for help? But you do not listen!’ (Habakkuk 1:2, NLT). He saw the sad state of affairs around him and was asking, ‘God, when will you step in? I hear nothing! You’ve given me no answer. You’ve made no change.’ Later on, the Lord replied: ‘Look around at the nations; look and be amazed! For I am doing something in your own day, something you wouldn’t believe even if someone told you about it.’ (Habakkuk 1:5, NLT).
It’s exciting to know that God keeps secrets (good secrets!) from us. He wants His children to be amazed and to stand in awe and wonder at how great He is! Habakkuk did not approve of God’s methods (I mean, how could God use the sinful, brutal Chaldeans — who were notorious for heinous acts of violence, mutilation and wickedness — to bring about His purpose?) but God’s ways are not our ways. His ways are wrapped in His eternal purpose. God can use anyone for a moment, and often it’s to bring us to a place of humility.
Habakkuk questioned God a second time in a series of complaints.
‘I will climb up to my watchtower and stand at my guardpost. There I will wait to see what the LORD says and how he will answer my complaint.’ (Habakkuk 2:1, NLT)
The principle here is that only God can truly mend our world. No one — no movement, no worldly thinking — can bring healing. God, alone, is able. Christ is the hope for all humanity. We change nothing when we labour in our own strength. It’s Christ in us, the hope of glory! It’s through Jesus living in me, and working and speaking through me that change is made. We accomplish nothing without the Lord at our side, He is the master builder (Psalm 127).
Then the LORD said to me, “Write my answer plainly on tablets, so that a runner can carry the correct message to others. This vision is for a future time. It describes the end, and it will be fulfilled. If it seems slow in coming, wait patiently, for it will surely take place. It will not be delayed.” (Habakkuk 2:2-3, NLT)
What powerful words! God speaks clearly and precisely: it will come to pass. Whatever God has called you to do will come to pass. It may seem slow in coming, but wait patiently. The prophet Isaiah writes:
Have you never heard? Have you never understood? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of all the earth. He never grows weak or weary. No one can measure the depths of his understanding. He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless. Even youths will become weak and tired, and young men will fall in exhaustion. But those who trust in the LORD will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint. (Isaiah 40:28-31, NLT)
God is asking us; you, me, all of us:
- Have you never heard?
- Have you never understood?
At this very moment, how would you answer those questions from God about your feelings, fears, failures and future? Here’s the key: ‘wait’. Can you wait upon the Lord? In Habakkuk, the Lord tells us to ‘…wait patiently, for it will surely take place’ (Habakkuk 2:3, NLT). Can you wait for God to do it? Or are you going to make the same mistake as Esau and sell your birthright for a bowl of stew (Genesis 25:29-34). Esau trivialised his birthright, casually swapping it for a temporary quick fix. In a moment of weakness he made a mistake that he couldn’t go back and change, no matter how many bitter tears he shed (Hebrews 12:17).
The book of Habakkuk teaches these four things:
- Grow in godliness (2:9-14)
- Grow in our daily devotions (1:2-17; 2:1-3)
- Grow in holiness (3:16)
- Grow in faith (3:17-19)
When Habakkuk questioned God, he revealed the presence of faith, not a lack of it. Because Habakkuk believed in God, he believed that God had an answer for his problem. Habakkuk reminds us that the question ‘why?’ can and should be asked. His situation demanded that he ask God about the apparent reign of rebellion around him. For a believer, the answer to ‘why?’ is ultimately only in God.
The apostle Paul takes the statement from Habakkuk 2:4 — ‘the righteous person will live by his faithfulness’ — and makes it the heart of the Gospel. The righteousness of God is attained only through faith, so we live by faith. Habakkuk calls all believers to trust God at all times, to be faithful to Him and to find life as God means it to be lived.
It is possible to rise above and even to rejoice in our circumstances by focusing on God, who stands above all. Habakkuk didn’t deny his problems, nor did he treat them lightly; instead he found God sufficient in the midst of his troubles.