How do you respond to circumstances not going your way? How do you react when you receive disappointing news? What is your attitude when your hopes are dashed?
God wants us to learn the lessons of the prophet Habakkuk. In his day Judah had radically turned away from God under the leadership of wicked kings. The country was morally and spiritually bankrupt, worshipping Baal on the high places, offering its children to Molech, and allowing the temple to fall into disrepair. There was a short time of revival under King Josiah but the country soon returned to its evil ways following his death. The balance of power in the mid east had been disrupted by the defeat of the Egyptians and Assyrians by the Babylonians. Now the Babylonian war machine became the dominant force mercilessly sweeping all opposition aside. The kingdom of Judah was in Babylon’s crosshairs and amassing.
Habakkuk poured his heart out to God asking Him to change the appalling spiritual condition of Judah and deliver them from invading enemies, but he did not get the answer for which he hoped. The Lord revealed to Habakkuk that His plan was to use Babylon as His instrument of judgment against God’s people. This horrified Habakkuk. How could God use a pagan and wicked nation to discipline His own people? This did not seem right. Why wouldn’t God destroy their enemies and revive Judah instead?
Habakkuk, like Job, complains to God and questions His justice and wisdom. God makes it clear that both nations will be judged but His people will eventually be renewed. By the end of the book Habakkuk’s attitude changed. He realized God was sovereign and knew what was best for His people; he desired God’s plans and glory above all things. What changed Habakkuk? He learned“the righteous shall live by his faith.” (2:4) God wants to break our pride and bring us to greater trust in His sovereign plans and providence for us. In the end Habakkuk was able to exercise faith by looking to God and His grace for all his needs. He was able face unpleasant circumstances knowing God would be enough for Him.
I encourage you to meditate on his final words in chapter three: “Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. GOD, the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like the deer’s; he makes me tread on my high places.” (Vv. 17-19)
Habakkuk found joy and strength in God’s salvation and presence even though he knew the certainty of great difficulties ahead. It is the norm for Christians to face many trials in life because it is God’s way of refining our faith and character. Are you facing unpleasant circumstances today? The key is looking to Christ and your gospel blessings in Him. In the midst of our trials God wants to teach us that He is enough; He is all we need even if circumstances don’t change. No matter what the circumstances, a daily personal relationship with Christ, by grace, can give us joy and strength that enables us to face each day with hope. May your resolve today be the same as Habakkuk’s.
Pastor Doug Griffith