- God, Do You See What I’m Dealing With Here?
- Habakkuk 1
- Lyndol Loyd October 12, 2020
Habakkuk: God, Do You See What I’m Dealing With Here?
This morning we are kicking off our new message series based on the book of Habakkuk. One of the things we are going to see through this Old Testament story is that it is a journey toward hope. I think that’s something I can safely assume that we are all interested in.
But if there is a driving question of the book Habakkuk it is this. Habakkuk wanted to know, “Why doesn’t God seem fair?” Maybe you’ve asked this before. You want to know, “Why doesn’t God seem fair?”
In fact, in Habakkuk 1:2-3, you see Habakkuk asking a version of this question. “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. 3 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.”
If you fast-forward from this Old Testament book to today, and you see that people ask these kinds of questions all the time:
- God, why is it that the evil people, they seem to prosper, but the good people, all these bad things happen to them.
- Why is it that I work hard at work and I’m honest, and then the jerk over there who’s kissing up and all this stuff, that person gets promoted?
- Why is it that the person who gets into all sorts of bad stuff lives to be 102, but the great Christian father dies at the age of 42 of cancer? What’s up with that?
- God, why is it that we tried to raise our kids according to Your word, and we really tried to do a good job, but now, our kids are like messed up? And then, You look at their kids and they were like not even involved, and their kids turned out okay? What? What’s up with this, God?
- How come I try to do what Your word says and financially, I’m trying to do the right things, and I’m not being blessed, and then; someone else is out there, they’re not even giving and they’re being blessed? God, what’s up with that?
- God, how come someone else prays, and when they pray, You like seem to do things immediately, but when I pray, You don’t do anything at all?
- How come I’ve got these headaches that don’t go away? Or, how come I’m battling with depression?
- Or, how come someone I love is going through this? And God, it seems like You could do something, but You don’t. Why? Why don’t You seem fair?”
Now, as we study the book of Habakkuk, we are going to find that He is asking questions like this. Habakkuk, the prophet, was incredibly in love with God. He had a very rich faith, but he, like so many people, he crashed head-on into a situation in which the things that he saw didn’t line up with the things that he believed. It was a very difficult season for him. Many of you may be able to relate.
What I’d like to do is just kind of set the context of the book of Habakkuk to bring kind of a broader understanding. Well, let’s just start with the basics. Habakkuk is what’s known as one of the twelve Minor Prophets. There’s twelve books in the Old Testament, they are smaller books and they are the Minor Prophets.
Habakkuk is one of the twelve. Of the twelve, we know less about Habakkuk than any of the others. We don’t know much at all. We know that he was most likely a temple musician, and then at some point, he became a priest and a prophet.
Now, you might wonder what is a prophet. A prophet is someone who would speak on behalf of God. God would say, “Okay, Habakkuk, here’s what I want you to tell the people,” and so Habakkuk would say, “Thus says the Lord,” and he would prophesy or speak whatever God told him.
Now, the book was written in about the year 600 B.C., give or take a little bit. We’re not exactly sure, and it was a time period where God’s people were becoming very corrupt. Okay, there was violence. There was corruption. There were all sorts of fights.
There was a lot of ungodliness, and you could say, really, it was a lot like the world we live in today. There were bad people doing bad things to good people, and even good people weren’t so good, and so, God speaks to the prophet and says, “These people that I love, they’re becoming increasingly wicked. And for your own good, basically, I am going to punish you. But what you need to understand is, I am going to take a far worse people, those who are much more evil than you, and I am going to use them to destroy you.”
And Habakkuk goes, “Huh? No, no, no, no, no, no. That doesn’t seem fair to me at all.” That’s why, perhaps, Habakkuk’s name means this. If you are taking notes, the name Habakkuk means to embrace, or it means to wrestle. What we are going to do is, we are going to watch Habakkuk wrestle with God. We are going to watch him embrace God through some very difficult times.
When I was a child I used to like to watch reruns of sitcoms like the Brady Bunch after I would get home from school. What would happen in an episode is this. There’d be a little humor. There’d be some tension in the plot, and within thirty minutes, including commercials at the end, everything would be neatly tied and every problem would be solved. Loved the Brady Bunch.
Let me just tell you that isn’t how the book of Habakkuk works. In fact, you are going to get the opposite. Read this book and you’ll find that it resembles real life: tension, drama, and plenty of unanswered questions.
With that foundation built, let’s dive into the book of Habakkuk 1:1, “This is the message that the prophet Habakkuk received in a vision.”
But the message that God gave to him was a burdensome, heavy message. So Habakkuk is like, “God, I don’t want to tell them this, because I don’t like this. They’re not going to like this. I don’t see anything good in this.”
In fact, he’s going to push back. He’s the only one of the twelve Minor Prophets that pushes back and argues with God, and he gets right up into God’s business in V.3. He says, “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.”
Basically, if you are taking notes, Habakkuk, he has three major problems with God. Let’s summarize them.
- God, You don’t seem to care, okay? You’re letting all these things go on in the world that don’t seem fair. God, you must not even care.
- You aren’t doing much when You could. As if to say, “God, I know You could. You’re all powerful. I believe You could. You could do this one little thing that would change everything, God. I mean, if I were in Your shoes, I would do it. I don’t know why You won’t. You don’t seem to really care.
- What You are doing doesn’t seem fair. In other words, what Habakkuk was saying is, “God, if I were in Your shoes, I would do things totally different.”
Be honest. How many of you ever thought something like that? You should read the Psalms sometime. Fully, one-third of the Psalms are people crying out to God, “What’s going on here? God, are You going to rescue me? God, are you leaving here forever? God, what’s up?”
Read the book of Job. Read the book of Lamentations. These are very Godly people who are crying out, “Have mercy. God, I thought I did everything You said, and now, what’s going on here?”
If you don’t believe that, skip over to the New Testament and look at Jesus when He was on the cross, completely obedient to His Father in every single way. Then, as He becomes sin, God pours out His wrath upon Jesus, and God turns away, and Jesus is going, “My God …, why? Why have You forsaken Me?” In fact, so many people, I think, are afraid to bring very sincere questions to God, and I would argue that sometimes a very important part of your faith journey would be taking honest questions before God.
Here’s where a lot of people are. What do you do when what you see with your eyes is so different than what you believe in your heart? This, you see, was Habakkuk’s foundational challenge.
Let’s say that you are a person who is without Christ and that God is doing something in your life because God is reaching out to you and you’re softening to him. As Wesleyans we call that prevenient grace.
And at some point, the Holy Spirit does something in you, and you’re going, “Okay. Okay, God, I believe you’re real, and I believe your Son is the Son of God, and I surrender to you,” and at that point, boom! Your life changes. I mean like, boom, major changes. And all of a sudden, you’re different and you get on this spiritual high. I mean, you’re praying and God’s answered your prayers, and you’re having all these God coincidences, and all your friends are going, “You’re weird. What happened to you?”
You’re making changes in your life, and all these major things are, “You go to church?” and the message is like just for you. You’re like, “Dude, that was for me!” And you get in your car and you’ve got, you know, your favorite song’s on the radio. You go to the mall and there’s a parking lot space right in the front.
Now, before long, you go to church, and the sermon doesn’t quite speak to you. You’re like, “Uh, uh, that’s weird.” You get in your car, and you don’t like the song that’s playing. That’s weirder. You pray, and instead of God doing what you ask, the opposite happens. Uh, what’s going on here? And then one day, someone you love gets sick and doesn’t get better, or someone you care about gets in an accident and things don’t turn out the way you thought they would.
You enter into a CRISIS OF BELIEF. “Huh? God, I thought we were here. I was trusting You, but now based on what I see, it is very different than based on what I thought. I’m not sure what I believe right now.”
Typically, when this happens, people go in one of two directions. One is, they will naively deny reality and say, “I want to go right back where I was.” Almost living in denial which can be dangerous.
Others, though, they get mad, and they’re like, “Okay, God. I thought, but You’re not, so forget You. If you’re not going to do what I thought You would do, then You must not be who I thought You were, so forget it, God.
Right about now, some of you may be thinking of someone, a friend or family member that I basically just described. Others of you, it might be you, where something happened. You got hurt. Someone did something to you. Someone let you down. God didn’t answer your prayer. You say, “You know what? Forget this.
What do you do when what you see isn’t consistent with what you believe, and you’re not sure what to think about God? Well, you can go this way. You can go this way. Or, you can go the more difficult road, and that is, say, “God, I’m going to still trust You.”
God may take you on a journey, and let me just tell you right now, it doesn’t mean that things are going to get better first. They might get worse and more painful, and you may even have more faith struggles, but if you continue to stick with God, no matter what He does around you, I can assure you that if you hold on to Him, at some point, He’s going to take your faith to a place of intimacy, trust, and security that you never, ever dreamed possible, if you’re willing to go through the season of doubt.
In fact, everybody I know that is really, really intimate with God and really, really close with God, almost everyone I know has been through this season. The New Testament says it this way in James 1:2-4, “Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. 3 For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. 4 So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.”
God may lovingly allow you to go through a season of doubts, questioning, fear, insecurities, and unanswered questions, because He’ll do something in you that He couldn’t do any other way.
Some of you right now are in Habakkuk 1. You don’t know what you believe right now. You’re in the middle of Chapter One, and too many people walk away from God in Chapter One. Let me just tell you this very plainly, Chapter One is all about wondering, “God, where are You and what are You doing. Do you see what I’m dealing with here?” and that can be a very important part of your faith journey. That’s where Habakkuk was.
Let’s look at GOD’S RESPONSE, V. 5. God said, “Habakkuk, you want an answer? Okay, here it is, “Look around at the nations; look and be amazed! For I am doing something in your own day, something you wouldn’t believe even if someone told you about it. I am raising up the Babylonians, a cruel and violent people. They will march across the world and conquer other lands”
Here’s the story, Habakkuk. “You’re kind of bad? They’re much worse, and I know, all of you hate the Babylonians, but I’m going to use them to destroy you,” and Habakkuk’s like, “Huh?” I, I mean, if you put yourself in that story, you’d be like, “That’s not right! I’m not that bad!”
So, here’s the deal. What do you do when you’re in the middle of Chapter One and you’re not sure what you believe? You want to believe, but you’ve got so many questions. Can you still be a deeply committed believer with a lot of questions?
Here’s something I hope will be freeing to many of you. A deeply committed believer can express simultaneous questions and faith. May that set you free. A deeply committed believer, at the same moment, can believe God and yet, be still a little bit unsure.
V.12-14, watch as Habakkuk has simultaneous faith and questions. “O Lord my God, my Holy One, you who are eternal — surely you do not plan to wipe us out? O Lord, our Rock, you have sent these Babylonians to correct us, to punish us for our many sins. 13 But you are pure and cannot stand the sight of evil. Will you wink at their treachery? Should you be silent while the wicked swallow up people more righteous than they? 14 Are we only fish to be caught and killed? Are we only sea creatures that have no leader?”
Some of you right now, that’s where you are. You’re in chapter one. I’ve got bad news for you. Chapter Two’s not much better. Number one, you’re wondering. Number two, you’re waiting … and waiting and waiting and waiting. In Chapter Three, if you continue to stick with God, though, you will come to a point, no matter what you see around you, you will worship God – not because of what you see with your eyes, but because of who you know Him to be.
No matter what goes on around you, you will worship Him because of His character and His nature. So, what do you do for those of you who are in Chapter One? You do the Habakkuk, which is, you embrace Him.
You may wrestle with God, and that means, no matter what is going on around you, you Habakkuk. You hold on. You wrestle back and forth, and you may even say, “I don’t understand,” but you embrace Him, and you never let go, because no matter what happens, and I can’t promise you a better life necessarily, but I can promise you this. He will never let go of you.
Habakkuk, here’s where you like the nice story where it sums it all up, and I have none, because sometimes in Chapter One, all you can do is embrace Him.
PRAYER: Let’s pray together. “Father, today, I specifically pray for those who are in Chapter One, that as you hold on to them, God, You would give them the faith, even though clouded with doubts and questions, to continue to hold on to You.”