Greetings in the name of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
How long, O LORD, must I call for help?
But you do not listen! (Habakkuk 1:2)
When a disaster, such as 9/11 hit our nation without any warning from out of blue, what was our response? When an extreme hardship in our life suddenly came to us, how did we respond? Here is a common response: where was our God? We believe the God, who is so much loving and caring for us. Even so, we had to go through such a disaster or an extreme hardship with a pain that we cannot describe alone. Our God was so silent, and even He let the disaster or our extreme hardship happen to us. Did Our God really care for our pain? Our suffering reached the limit or even beyond of what we could endure. God was so silent…
When we needed Him most, Our God was not there. When we really want to hear His voice, He was silent. Why was the loving God so silent? Did He really care for us? Why didn’t hear us, although He could remove the pain in our heart or He could stop such a disaster or a hardship in our life even before happening. Is Our God really omnipotent?
If you feel the same pain while asking the same question, you are not alone. Numerous Christians lived before us had asked, and even today countlessly many Christians are asking too because such a pain is so great to bear. Every moment is an eternity, and we feel as if we are trapped in the pain. Oh, God. Where are you, when we are in pain and we need most?
Today, we want to introduce one prophet, who lived before the Christ lived on earth. The prophet’s name is Habakkuk. His name latterly means “strong embrace.” It suggests the God’s strong hand, which is full of love that tightly embraces us and put us in His bosom that is bigger than our pain and hardship that we can ever encounter in our life. He opened up His Book composed of three chapters as follows:
How long, O LORD, must I call for help?
But you do not listen!
“Violence is everywhere!” I cry,
but you do not come to save.
Must I forever see these evil deeds?
Why must I watch all this misery?
Wherever I look,
I see destruction and violence.
I am surrounded by people
who love to argue and fight.
The law has become paralyzed,
and there is no justice in the courts.
The wicked far outnumber the righteous,
so that justice has become perverted. (Habakkuk 1:2-4)
Habakkuk prayed and prayed, but there was no answer from God. Now, he got to the point to make a complaint to God. “How long, O LORD, must I call for help?” He had a faith that God surely listened to his prayer, and prayed and prayed. Not just one day. Day after day. It must have been quite a long period. (For some of us, it sounds very familiar.)
Even there was violence, and it was everywhere in his life. Although he tried to endure it, he could not bear anymore. His heart completely shredded by the violence cried out for help, but there was silence.
Disaster after disaster, which came upon him like a tidal wave that did not know how to stop. Evil deeds surrounded him. He could not understand why he had to see those. The people with him was equally vicious. They carefully watched over what Habakkuk did, and criticized him. They loved violence and destruction, and enjoyed arguing and fighting. They was simply evil.
Although trying to find a justice by bring up to the courts, there was no justice, which was simply paralyzed. The wicked completely outnumbered him, and he was attacked. There was no justice, which had become perverted. No place to go, and no way to get out. He was struck. Habakkuk cried out to God, but nothing was changed.
God, who was really compassionate and full of mercy, could not be silent forever. What Habakkuk was experiencing – no disaster, hardship, pain, violence and injustice — was ultimately his own good, but God did not continue being silent because Habakkuk was a mere human who was feeble and fragile under God’s hand simply because it is so powerful for us to endure. Of course, God knows exactly what we can endure and how we feel under the extreme condition.
No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. (1 Corinthians 10:13)
Since he himself has gone through suffering and testing, he is able to help us when we are being tested. (Hebrews 2:18)
God answered to Habakkuk
“Write down the revelation
and make it plain on tablets
so that a herald may run with it.
For the revelation awaits an appointed time;
it speaks of the end
and will not prove false.
Though it linger, wait for it;
it will certainly come
and will not delay.
“See, the enemy is puffed up;
his desires are not upright—
but the righteous person will live by his faithfulness (Habakkuk 2:2-4)
He told Habakkuk to write down to make it plain on tables. God set an appointed time, and patiently waited for the time. It seemed delaying forever because one second felt like an eternity under agony. God told Habakkuk it would not delay without missing even a split second. The enemy would be puffed up without knowing the appointed time, and continued their desire, which was not upright before God. Their violence and injustice would be terminated exactly on the appointed time as God had planned. Those who righteous would live by faith including Habakkuk and those who are faithful in God.
After hearing God’s answer, Habakkuk confessed his faith before God:
Though the fig tree does not bud
and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
and no cattle in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
I will be joyful in God my Savior.
The Sovereign Lord is my strength;
he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
he enables me to tread on the heights. (Habakkuk 3:17-19)
When he looked around, Habakkuk could not see any changes. What he saw was as it was before he prayed and received God’s answer. Nothing planted did produce. No sheep and cattle in the pen or the stalls. However, Habakkuk was able to rejoice in the Lord. He was joyful because God delivered him. The Sovereign God was his strength (not his own strength and will power). Why? God made his feel like deer’s feet so that he could tread the rough terrain by faith while holding the might God’s hand because He already stretched His mighty hand to Habakkuk to hold tight. This is the love of God, which trumps everything that we know, see and experience on earth. Praise the Lord! He is Our God. His is our strength and stronghold, where we can take a refuge.
God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake with their surging. (Psalm 46:1-3)