“For the vision is yet for the appointed time; it testifies about the end and will not lie. Though it delays, wait for it, since it will certainly come and not be late.” (CSB – Read the chapter)
Are you a good waiter? I’m not talking about serving tables at a restaurant. I mean, are you good at waiting for things? Most of us aren’t, if we’re being honest. We live in an instant culture. We expect things to happen when we want them to happen and not a moment later. The challenge, of course, is that the world doesn’t operate on our timetable. More than that, the God who created it doesn’t. This means that if we want to get through life well, we’re going to have to learn to wait.
You know, thinking about it, how good of a waiter we are depends somewhat on the thing for which we are waiting. It also depends on whether we are waiting for it with excitement or dread. I used to be beside myself with excitement when it came to waiting for my birthday to arrive. Nowadays, as birthdays have become just another day, I almost forget they are coming until they arrive.
The more we are anticipating something coming, generally speaking, the worse we are about waiting for it. Now, the reality is that we don’t have any choice but to wait. Time doesn’t speed up (or slow down if it’s something we dread) based on our level of excitement. But the more anticipation we have, the more we let our thoughts about whatever it is overwhelm the rest of our thinking. It begins to distract us from the basic things that need to happen between now and then. This can make us a burden to the people around us. But to a certain extent, we can’t help it. We’re too excited to focus on anything else.
For Habakkuk, his waiting had to be getting tough. He had received word from the Lord that the Babylonians were coming to town to destroy his nation. Unlike some of the other prophets who received this kind of news, though, Habakkuk didn’t respond with repentance as his first reaction. He responded with righteous indignation. While not downplaying the sinfulness of his own people (that, after all, was the original complaint he brought to the Lord) Babylon was way worse than they were. How could God use a grossly unrighteous nation to bring judgment to a less unrighteous one? (It doesn’t matter right now, but the partial answer to that question is that God doesn’t view us as having differing levels of righteousness; we are either righteous or we are not.)
Once he asked this question, he waited. That’s what we talked about yesterday along with the reminder that if we want to hear from God ourselves, we’re going to have to learn to wait on Him.
Eventually, Habakkuk’s waiting came to an end. God spoke. But instead of giving him an answer right away, He offered him a preface. And the preface was this: keep being patient.
Here is a truth about God that we need to get firmly settled in our hearts and minds if we want to get along well in this life: He is always on time. God is never early and He is never late. He always arrives exactly at the moment He needs to arrive. When He does something, He does it at exactly the time it needs to be done. Always.
Here’s why this mattered to Habakkuk: God was dealing with Israel via the invasion of the Babylonians because the time was nigh for them to pay for their sins. Babylon’s time would come. He hadn’t forgotten about them and He wasn’t overlooking anything they had or would yet do. It was simply not yet time to deal with them. When it was, He would.
Here’s why this matters for us: God will act when the time is right. Whatever it is we are waiting on Him to do, He will do it at exactly the right time. Always. The problem for us is that His perfect timing and ours just may not line up very well. If we get impatient in our waiting and quit on Him, He isn’t going to be hurt by that. We are. If there is something He needs to do, He is going to do it. Though it delays, wait for it, since it will certainly come and not be late.
In the meantime, keep pursuing the life of Christ with abandon. Keep loving your neighbors. Keep serving the downtrodden. Keep worshiping the Lord. God will act when the time is right. You can trust in that absolutely.