“How long, Lord, must I call for help and you do not listen or cry out to you about violence and you do not save? Why do you force me to look at injustice? Why do you tolerate wrongdoing? Oppression and violence are right in front of me. Strife is ongoing, and conflict escalates. This is why the law is ineffective and justice never emerges. For the wicked restrict the righteous; therefore, justice comes out perverted.” (CSB – Read the chapter)
Wednesday we started our little journey through the collection of prophecy from Habakkuk. I said then that Habakkuk is perhaps the easiest prophet to understand in terms of the nature of his message. We can all connect to wrestling with the state of our culture. We can all connect with not liking the answers God gives us when we ask Him hard questions. Those two things along with God’s responses to Habakkuk’s questions are the majority of the book. As we started this journey, we talked about the fact that Habakkuk gives us permission to ask God hard questions of our own. I promised you then that today we would talk about how we are to do that such that it proves a profitable experience for us. Let’s do that.
When it comes to asking God hard questions, there are a few things we have to keep in mind if we want to get anything positive out of our asking.
The first is this: we need to ask from a position of faith, not doubt. Now, I can already hear the question firing up in your mind: Does this mean we can’t bring our doubts to God? No, it doesn’t. Let me explain.
What I’m getting at here is the motivation behind our questioning. I once had a series of conversations with a young man who had been raised in the church but declared himself an atheist after he went off to college. As we talked, he presented me with question after question after question. I answered all of them. Each answer, though, only led to another question. And another. And another. And another.
It became clear after a while that the questions he was asking weren’t coming from any kind of a desire to reengage with his faith. They were all smoke screens intended to keep the conversation away from the real issues churning in the depths of his heart. Had he brought those questions to God, they would have profited him nothing. He didn’t want to know the answers. He didn’t care about the answers. He just wanted to stiff-arm both God and me so he could continue on the path he had chosen for himself.
Asking God hard questions with that kind of a spirit won’t do us any good. He knows our heart—better even than we do—and He won’t be treated like Google.
When our desire is to move in His direction and understand more fully who He is, then we will find a God who is ready and willing to engage with us. When the heart of our questioning is a basic trust in Him, He will patiently listen to all that we have to say. We can ask our hardest questions, express to Him our most challenging thoughts, wrestle with not understanding what or why He’s doing what He’s doing, and we can count on His willingness to talk.
As we talk, though, we must keep something else in mind: He’s God and we’re not. This fact highlights a tension that we must simply learn to live with in our relationship with God. On the one hand, we have a friend in Jesus. And in Christ, we can stand with confidence in the presence of the Father. He made us to be in a relationship with Him. He longs to walk with us in the cool of the day like He did with Adam and Eve.
On the other hand, He’s God. He created the world and everything in it, the universe and all its contents with a word. He sustains it—all of it—to this day. More than that, He is the great and terrible judge. He is perfect in righteousness and holiness. His wrath against sin is fierce. No evil can exist in His presence. We are commanded to fear Him, and as we have talked about recently, that doesn’t just mean respecting Him. We dare not approach Him flippantly or casually.
If we forget that fact, we’ll be caught by another: He is not beholden to give us an answer. Because He is God and we are not, He does not owe us anything including answers to our questions. He does not have to explain Himself to us. He does not have to bring us in on His plans. He doesn’t need our approval when He wants to do something. Our input on how He does it does not factor into His decision-making process. What He shares with us is all out of His grace and goodness.
There’s one more thing: The answer He gives us may not be the answer we want to hear. In His wisdom, He knows what’s best for us. He’s committed to seeing us grow fully into the unique and beautiful individuals He created us to be. Our plans for ourselves and the people around us may or may not be consonant with His plans. Discovering they’re not can be a rough experience. What we need to do in these moments is remember He is good and He is going to work out His good plans for us if we will faithfully stick with Him.
Now, you may be wondering at this point if it’s even worth trying to ask God your big and hard questions. This is, after all, a lot to keep in mind. Don’t be discouraged. It’s still not only okay, but good to ask. It’s good to go to Him. He’s the source of life. In Him there is life and life in abundance. Even if we don’t find direct answers to the questions we have, we will find Him when we go and that will leave us more satisfied than any answer will. So ask away, you’ve got nothing to lose and the world to gain.