Waiting by Faith
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. Habakkuk 3:17-18
We have plenty to complain about: rivers flooding the nation’s midsection, mile-wide tornadoes wiping out whole cities in the south, wildfires devouring drought-stricken land, and earthquakes threatening nuclear disaster. Then there are wars and uprisings springing up in an already volatile Middle East and intimidating terrorists plotting to destroy as many people as they can.
I am reminded of a prophet named Habakkuk who went to God with complaints. “How long, O LORD, must I call for help, but you do not listen?”(Habakkuk 1:2a). I love Habakkuk’s prayer because he sounds like me. I also complain that “conflict abounds . . . and justice never prevails” (Habakkuk 1:3-4). Maybe you do too.
I also love his prayer because he waited for God’s answer. This was a two-way conversation. God answered that wickedness would be punished in its appointed time. Meanwhile, “the righteous will live by his faith” (Habakkuk 2:4b). God told Habakkuk to cling to His promises no matter how dark the days. “For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea” (Habakkuk 2:14).
Bringing God our complaints (laments) is allowed. But when we come face to face with the awesome sovereignty of God, our whining must change to rejoicing: “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 go on the heights” (Habakkuk 3:18-19).
Can you rejoice in the LORD as Habakkuk did—though everything may be falling apart around you? Talk to God daily. Complain if you must, but then wait to receive His answer. Fix your eyes on His great power and He will give you the strength you need.
Read Habakkuk 1:5-11. What did God answer that brought a second complaint from Habakkuk? Why would God use the wicked Babylonians to punish Israel? Had Israel been unfaithful to Him, had they also done unrighteous things?
Read Habakkuk 2:1-3. Dissatisfied with what he was hearing from God, what did Habakkuk do? What did God do?
Read Matthew 13:47-50. What did Jesus promise will happen to the wicked? When will it happen? What should we do meanwhile? (Habakkuk 3:18-19).
Read Hebrews 10:36-39 which includes a quote of Habakkuk 2:4b. Note that this is followed by Hebrews 11 called the Hall of Heroes—all of whom lived by faith and died before seeing the fulfillment of God’s promises. How is our life of faith different? Which promises have been fulfilled and which ones are yet to be fulfilled?
Nancy J. Baker