Even If Not, He is Still Good: Lessons from Habakkuk
We all go through seasons of victories and valleys. Often our victories are the easiest times to worship God, when his goodness is evident and his blessings abound. However, the valleys are where it proves harder to do that. We lose a loved one, get fired from a job, or have trouble getting pregnant. Whatever the valley, it is hard to trust in the goodness of God when all seems hopeless.
Habakkuk learned to trust in God’s faithfulness even when in the deepest valley. The nation of Judah was in economic and spiritual despair. All seemed hopeless. The valley was deep and the end was no-where in sight. In fact, Habakkuk knew that their terrible situation was about to get even worse. We can learn from Habakkuk’s dark valley about how to draw near to God in our loss, anxiety, and fear.
Habakkuk Pours Out His Heart
The book of Habakkuk is a conversation between the prophet Habakkuk and the Lord. In this book, Habakkuk issues his complaint before the Lord about the utter destruction happening in Judah. Habakkuk wrestles with the Lord throughout the entire book asking the question, “God, are you good?”
Habakkuk begins with issuing his complaint before the Lord.
“O 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.” Habakkuk 1:2-3
This is only the beginning of Habakkuk’s lengthy grievance before the Lord. He continues his list of objections for almost two chapters. Judah is in economic and spiritual ruin, and Habakkuk wants to know if the Lord sees and cares about their condition. He pours out his heart and his hurts before the God of all.
Habakkuk Waits on the Lord
After pouring out his complaint before the Lord, Habakkuk sits and waits for a reply.
“I will take my stand at my watch post and station myself on the tower, and look out to see what he will say to me, and what I will answer concerning my complaint.” Habakkuk 2:1
Habakkuk models a very important discipline – waiting for the Lord. The idea of a prophet waiting for the word of the Lord is nothing new. Throughout all of Scripture, prophets waited for God to speak a message to his people. In this case, Habakkuk was not just waiting on a prophecy, he was waiting on a reply from the God who cares about the needs of his heart – God answered the cries of Habakkuk concerning the nation of Judah.
However, God’s answer was not what Habakkuk hoped to hear. God was doing something behind the scenes that would not make sense to his people. He was raising up the Chaldeans, a sinful and ruthless people, to bring judgment upon Judah. He was working for holiness over happiness. Ultimately, though Judah could not see it, he was working for the expanse of the Gospel in the unreached world.
Habakkuk Chooses Trust Over Bitterness
Habakkuk takes the Lord at his word and trusts in his sovereignty. Throughout all of chapter three, he pours out a heart of praise before the Lord. He constantly reminds himself of God’s goodness, power, and holiness. It is clear from his heart of worship, that though his circumstances had not changed, his reliance upon the Lord had.
“Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD; I will take joy in the God of my salvation.” Habakkuk 3:17-18
As he remembered the history of God’s faithfulness to his people, Habakkuk knew that the Lord could be trusted. He knew that the God who provided manna in the desert would one day provide the Bread of Life. He knew that the God who redeemed the Israelites from slavery would one day rescue his people from the bondage of sin. God has proven himself faithful and true. Habakkuk resolved to remind himself of God’s goodness and poured out a heart of worship despite his circumstances.
Taking a Lesson from Habakkuk
Earlier this year, we were expecting our first son, Joshua. On April 1st, we woke up excited to see his sweet little body at our anatomy scan, only to face one of the deepest valleys of our lives. Sometime before our twenty-week scan, the Lord saw fit to take Joshua home. We went into the hospital to deliver that evening and went through the longest, saddest night of our married life. After induction began, I looked at my husband in tears and clearly remember saying, “I have got to believe that God is still good.”
It was only the Spirit that brought those words to my heart and mind in the midst of our valley. Months earlier, we witnessed two close friends gracefully struggle and beat cancer. The entire time that they went through treatments, they acknowledged that even if God chose not to heal them on this earth that they would choose to believe that He is still good. This is the same truth that we have chosen to hold on to in losing Joshua.
There was no lengthy grievance before the Lord like Habakkuk had. Losing our son was one of the first times in my life that I truly had no words, only hurt. I know that just like God heard the cries of Habakkuk, He heard the cries of our hearts. He saw the hurt and He was so near. He surrounded us with love from the Church and constantly surrounded us with reminders of his goodness.
“You are good and do good; teach me your statutes.” Psalm 119:68
Just like Habakkuk could look back on the faithfulness of God to his people, I can look back on his goodness to my family. His track record is faithfulness and his heart is kind. He was kind enough to send Jesus to rescue me from the bondage of sin and death. He has been faithful to continue the work of making me more like his Son in the victories and the valleys. He has never left me, nor forsaken me. He is redeeming all things in my life and in the world for his own glory.
We can trust the God that has proven himself faithful through all of creation. Habakkuk could not see what God was doing, but ultimately the rise of the Chaldeans was used for the expansion of the Gospel throughout the world. You can be confident that He is working all things for the good of the Church and his glory. No matter your circumstances – loss, anxiety, or fear - the Creator and Sustainer of life cares for you. In your hurt and in your waiting, He wants your heart. Habakkuk did not choose bitterness, instead he chose to run to our faithful God.
Run to Him.
Pour out your complaint.
Wait for his Spirit to draw you near.
Seek him out in his Word and preach his promises to your heart.
Chose worship over worry.
Even if not, He is still good.