It doesn’t catch any of us by surprise anymore to be confronted with dire circumstances. Over 250,000 Americans lost their jobs in October. Unemployment is at 6.5%, and this doesn’t count the number of people who have given up looking for work. Our politicians and media have gone from terming our economic situation as a recession to a depression. We might look around and ask ourselves, “Does God know? Does God care?”
Habakkuk was living in a period of terrible unrest for God’s people. In Habakkuk 1:2-4, the prophet asks, “How long shall I cry, oh Lord, and You do not hear?” He describes the terrible morality of the nation around him, the wicked prevailing at the cost of the righteous. Psalm 73:1-8 speaks of the goodness of God, but the psalmist acknowledges the challenges he himself has in keeping faith in that goodness. The psalmist sees righteousness suffering and wickedness prospering.
This very problem afflicts Solomon in Ecclesiastes 8:9. He speaks of times when men have power over others to their hurt. He sees the wicked celebrated in their death, and justice remains undelivered. It does not add up in his or in our eyes. Returning to Habakkuk, God assures his prophet that He is in control. In Habakkuk 1:5-6, God tells Habakkuk he is rising up Babylon against Judah. In chapter 2:1, Habakkuk says he will wait for another answer.
Though it is hard, the righteous must accept God’s dealings. Returning to Psalm 73:11-14, the psalmist asks what good his godly behavior has done for him. Starting in verse 17, however, he takes a step back and looks at the bigger picture. He sees the end awaiting those wicked. Psalm 73:23 reassures his faith in God, his trust in Him despite those things he witnesses that tear at his faith. His conclusion, in verse 28, is to make God his refuge.
Stilling Our Souls
God has promised He will not forget the righteous. Psalm 94:12-14 states that God will not cast off His people. He is in control. While we may not necessarily understand or like all that is going on, we have to take comfort in the knowledge that God is still active. We have to still our souls in the knowledge of His presence. Psalm 37 calls on us to calm our souls and avoid fretting over others, to commit ourselves to Jehovah and wait patiently for Him.
Exodus 14:14, Psalm 46:10, Psalm 5:3, Psalm 27:14, Psalm 33:20, Psalm 37:7, Psalm 119:166, Psalm 130:5, Lamentations 3:24, Isaiah 30:18 – these passages and more ask God’s followers to lay their concerns aside to wait on God. Perhaps this material world has come to mean to much. Hebrews 11:8-10 speaks of Abraham looking beyond this material world. He lived in hope of something better. I Peter 2:11 speaks of us as sojourners and pilgrims, not citizens of this world, but citizens of Heaven (Philippians 3:20).
Habakkuk 3:16 closes with the prophet confessing his stress over the hopelessness of Judah’s situation. He goes on to say, however, that his strength and his hope is in the Lord. Regardless of the troubles of this world, our hope is in something higher. We may not know what our immediate future may hold, but we can have hope, for our God is as alive and as active as He was in the days of Habakkuk.
lesson by Tim Smelser