“I will stand at my guard post and station myself on the lookout tower. I will watch to see what he will say to me and what I should reply about my complaint.” (CSB – Read the chapter)
Have you ever asked somebody a question and then didn’t stick around for an answer? Better yet, have you ever had somebody ask you a question and then didn’t stick around for your answer? My kids will occasionally do that. They’ll ask me something and just as I mount my soapbox of parental wisdom to impart to them the secrets of the universe, they’ve already either asked me something else or are talking about the next thing. It drives me crazy…in no small part because it wounds my ego. As frustrating as this is for us, imagine how God feels. Think for a minute about how many times you’ve asked Him something only to not wait around for the answer. Habakkuk has asked God some really big questions. He does something next that is really important for us to mimic.
Remember Habakkuk’s struggle? It has been pretty intense. He complained about the state of his own people, and God responded that He was going to use an even more evil nation–the Babylonians–to bring judgment to them. This news completely rocked Habakkuk’s world. How could a God of justice use an unjust nation to judge a nation that, while dealing with their own issues of injustice, isn’t nearly to the level of injustice as their conquerors? This has to be a black mark against His character. There’s no way He can maintain His claim to holiness and goodness in light of this. Right?
Chances are, you’ve asked God something with a similar level of emotion. You haven’t likely asked the same question because you haven’t been in the same situation. But you’ve been angry at God before. You’ve been offended by some injustice and cried out to Him to demand an answer.
What happened then?
Did you get your answer?
Maybe God spoke right through the clouds and into your heart and mind, giving you just the answer you needed to have the confidence to keep trusting in Him in spite of whatever the challenge was you had been facing. But then again, probably not. The more likely thing is that you never felt like you heard anything back from Him. Perhaps you experienced the peace that passes all understanding, but if you didn’t, you’re not alone. It could be–in fact this is more likely than not what your experience was–that God left you sitting in that pile of ashes far longer than you ever imagined He would. You might have even been tempted to walk away from your faith you were so tired of waiting. Maybe you even gave into that temptation. I’m glad you’re here.
Habakkuk was right there with you. Don’t believe me? This verse proclaims otherwise. As we talked about a few days ago, just because one verse follows another in his little collection of prophecy doesn’t mean they happened in short sequence. Just because he cried out to God in dismay over the obvious injustice of Babylon being used to conquer Israel doesn’t mean God gave Him a clear answer right away.
But that doesn’t mean Habakkuk gave up on God.
Instead…he waited on Him.
He committed himself to waiting until God gave him an answer to his question however long that happened to be. If we want to hear from God, we’ve got to be committed to the same spirit of patience. Now, that doesn’t mean we just sit on our hands and do nothing until He speaks. We have to keep going through the rhythms of life. But we don’t stop seeking Him and coming back again and again to our question. After all, it just doesn’t do to ask a question and then leave before the object of our question has a chance to answer. The trick with God is that His timetable is different than ours. What seems like a long wait to us isn’t to Him. But, He doesn’t have to answer on our timetable. If we expect Him to, we are the ones who are going to wind up disappointed.
It could be that He plans to accomplish something in us through the waiting. It could be that He wants us to keep seeking Him because as we seek He can work in us to shape us in His image. It could be that we are asking a question He simply isn’t going to answer for us and we’ve got to get our minds and hearts around that fact. Whatever it is, when we ask God a question–especially a big one–we’ve got to be willing to wait for an answer. If not, we’re not going to get one.
I, for one, am glad Habakkuk did. In what comes next, God reminds Habakkuk–and us–of His character in a really powerful way. Stay tuned.