Habakkuk 2:4 tells us, “Behold, his soul is puffed up; it is not right within him, but the righteous shall live by his faith.”
The book of Habakkuk is similar to Job in that the prophet is questioning God’s justice. He is complaining about the moral and spiritual deterioration of Judah and asking why God was using the Babylonians against Judah to punish them when he felt they needed God to directly deal with the sin. Habakkuk just didn’t understand why God wasn’t doing things his way. But, as in Job, we will see that Habakkuk never lost his faith.
At the beginning of Habakkuk in my English Standard Version (ESV) study Bible, we read that “God’s ways of preserving and purifying His people are mysterious to the believer; and yet God calls His suffering people to show faith that God’s purposes for the world will, at the last, prevail. Habakkuk ends this revealing book by reminding us that a righteous person does not rely on himself for answers to trials we face, a righteous person relies on God; even when we cannot see what He is doing or plans to do in the future.
It is important that we remember that we are only one person; God is triune, He has all bases covered. Through the Holy Spirit we know how to pray and also know that these prayers will get to the Father. Through Jesus, we are saved from our sins of doubt and impatience, as He is seated at the right hand of God to intercede for us. And finally, the Father knows what our request means to us; He also knows that if we answered every request according to what we wanted, our world could be turned upside down.
I have been praying for a friend of mine for several years that they would admit to their alcoholism and turn to God. I have prayed specifically for her to return to God through a desire to read her Bible and fellowship with Christian people. These are good things to pray, and I’m sure God will answer these prayers…. eventually. But first I watched my friend go through trial after trial based on their addiction to alcohol. Marriage on the rocks, health in jeopardy, friends and family choosing to stay away because of the anger and abuse that they felt in the home. Why, Lord? Why won’t you just zap her into submission?
Stop and think about it. How do we learn our lessons best? Experience. A child touches a hot element on a stove and gets a painful burn. They may suffer for a short time, but they learned not to touch the stove. Remember, God’s timing is not our timing, we have free will, and all sin has consequences.
This is where faith comes in. We cannot send someone to follow the Twelve Steps to Recovery and expect them to come out healed and praising God. Again, this is a good thing if it is a truly Christ – based program, but it is not going to make the change in the person. Only Jesus can do that and it is in His timing. He alone knows when the change in our loved one will take place. He alone knows when the war that is killing innocent people will end. He alone knows why the tsunami wiped out so many homes and lives. He alone knows. And we must, as His children, trust that His way, His timing is the only way. We must have faith.
It is not easy to praise God while watching a loved one go through a diagnosis of cancer. It is not easy to feel that deep joy of salvation when you have just lost your job. It is not easy to have faith.
We are not alone. Job was not alone. Habakkuk was not alone. Jesus said in John 14:16, “And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, to be with you forever.”
That Helper is the Holy Spirit who helps you pray when you don’t know what to pray. Helps you get through the tears and the fears with the joy of your salvation still in your heart. Helps you live in God’s timeline and praise Him for it. You are not alone. Go to your Helper when you have doubts.
The righteous shall live by faith.