Oh Lord, how long shall I cry for help? And will you not hear? I 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. So the law is paralyzed and justice never goes forth, for the wicked surround the righteous. So justice goes forth perverted.
Oh, this is startling language, in a sense, that begins the book of Habakkuk. As Habakkuk comes before God, this is actually one of the unique things about Habakkuk. This is Habakkuk speaking to God on behalf of the people, not speaking to the people on behalf of God, at least at this point.
Habakkuk comes before God with deep, honest questions.
Habakkuk is specifically coming to God with deep, honest questions, hard questions that he’s wrestling with as he sees pagan nations, wicked evil nations having victory over the people of God. He’s wondering why is this happening? I mean, just think about his questions here. How long shall I cry for help and you will not hear? I cry to you violence, and you will not save? Why do you make me see iniquity, idly look at wrong? The whole picture here is Habakkuk saying like, “God, do you even hear my cries for help? Do you care? I’m crying to you violence. Why won’t you save?” Habakkuk is living in the middle of evil and injustice and suffering, and it seems like God is doing nothing about it.
So basically he’s questioning. It’s one of the main questions in the book like, “God, are you good?” It’s one of the deepest questions in life, right? How can God be good and there’d be so much evil in the world? Why am I seeing evil like this? Are you a holy God? Why do you idly look at wrong? He says, later in verse 13 in this chapter, “Your eyes are too pure to look on evil. You cannot look at wrong. So how’s it possible for you to be holy and evil like this to happen? Where is your power, your love? Where is your word? Your law is paralyzed. Where is your justice? Justice never goes forth.” Basically at the bottom of all of these questions is, God can I trust in you?
One of the things I love most about the book of Habakkuk is the way it doesn’t shy away from these questions. Instead, it confronts these questions head on. I wish we could dive into the rest of the book at this moment, but I want us to pray as we just consider Habakkuk chapter 1 alone right now and acknowledge these are questions we wrestle with, and these are questions we can come to God with like Habakkuk is showing us. There is a way to humbly yet honestly come to God with our questions.
So God, I pray for people right now. I think about even some of the ways I’m wrestling with some of these questions. When I think about my longing to go and adopt my son and day after day coming before you and asking for you to make a way and that way not being opened up. I know I’m not alone. People listening to this right now who are praying for things, asking for things and it seems sometimes like you’re not not hearing. It’s pretty easy for us, especially in our sinfulness and our just limited perspective to go from, if you’re not answering us in this way, does this mean you don’t care and where’s your goodness?
Then we look at injustice, not just around the world, but injustice that different ones who are praying right now have experienced. We wonder, God, where is your justice? Where is your power in all of this? Where is your word? So we bring these questions before you with humility before you, God, just acknowledging. We don’t see all that you see. We don’t know all that you know. We’re not wise as you are wise. We confess your wisdom and we confess your goodness. That’s what leads to these questions because we know you’re a good God. We know you’re good. We know you’re all powerful. We know you are just.
We say, we long to see your goodness, your power, your justice on display. We pray for your help amidst all of our questions. Help us to trust in you. Help us not to lose faith. God, help us to grow in faith. God, I pray this over every single person right now who is struggling in some sort of way, asking some of these questions, walking through difficult times in their lives. God, I pray over them that just like we see in the book of Habakkuk, how you use even these questions by the end to draw Habakkuk into deeper trust and deeper faith and deeper reliance upon you, deeper love for you.
God, I pray for that to happen over the lives of every single person listening right now, who’s walking through struggles right now or who find themselves walking through struggles around the corner. God, I pray that you would do what you promised to do in Romans chapter 8, that you would work even the hard things in our lives together for our good, for the good of those who love you and have been called according to your purpose. Make us more like Jesus, just like Romans 8: 29 and 30, say that you’re working all things together for good toward that end, for that purpose.
God, bringing about, make us more like Jesus. Draw us into deeper trust in you, deeper faith in you, deeper love for you even as we bring our honest, hard questions before you. We praise you for being a loving father who invites us to come before you humbly and honestly and you meet us right where you are even as we’re going to see in Habakkuk 2 and 3. So I look forward to praying through those chapters but I pray now in light of these questions in chapter 1, that you would strengthen the faith of every single person praying right now who has similar questions. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Throughout the fall, we are following the McLean Bible Church Reading Plan. You can access the reading plan here.