We aren’t surprised when we see people sidestep God. What shocks us, however, is when God seems to ignore people. The God of the Bible isn’t a far-off deity. So why does He seem so uninvolved?
God’s response to people’s non-response to Him seems conspicuous by its absence. For those of us who believe in God, it’s tough to breathe when it seems like God is stepping on our air hose.
A prophet with a funny name helps us turn our panic into peace—and to take a deep breath.
Why Does God Tolerate Such Compromise?
Honestly, our problem is nothing new. The Prophet Habakkuk looked around at his rebellious nation of Judah and asked the Lord why He did nothing about it. How could the Almighty tolerate such evil? The prophet had a problem with God’s inactivity.
The Lord answered that He was doing something—in fact, something so astonishing Habakkuk wouldn’t believe it even if God told him:
Look among the nations! Observe! Be astonished! Wonder! Because I am doing something in your days you would not believe if you were told. — Hab. 1:5
The Lord planned to judge Judah’s sin using a nation even more sinful than Judah.
A Bigger Problem
All of a sudden, Habakkuk had a problem with what God was doing. The cure seemed worse than the disease! But remember, God’s sovereign plan is beyond finite human comprehension.
- He is under no obligation to reveal to us His ways.
- God’s will often remains a mystery to us because He is God, and we are not.
However, if He chooses to reveal to us His plan, we might reject it and feel worse about God than we did before—all because of our limited understanding.
Wisely, Habakkuk took to God his concerns about God. The Lord assured the prophet that He would mete out justice in His time, and to “wait for it.”
Though it tarries, wait for it; For it will certainly come, it will not delay. Behold, as for the proud one, His soul is not right within him; But the righteous will live by his faith. —Hab. 2:3–4
In the seasons of confusion about God’s ways and God’s timing, how should God’s people live?
Take Your Problem with God TO God
The Lord revealed two mind-sets people take with regard to Him:
- The first reaction is pride—putting one’s own will above the Lord’s.
- The better response comes when the righteous person trusts God implicitly and “live[s] by his faith.”
So timeless and foundational is this principle, we find it repeated several times in the New Testament as the manner in which Christians are to live before God (Romans 1:17; Galatians 3:11; Hebrews 10:38). This type of faith begins at our salvation and extends into eternity.
Turning Our Panic into Peace
Habakkuk had no more understanding than he had at first. In fact, if anything, Habakkuk was more confused. But his response to God’s timing and to His sovereign plans reflected a person who had chosen not to respond in pride but in faith.
Though the fig tree should not blossom and there be no fruit on the vines, . . . Though the flock should be cut off from the fold and there be no cattle in the stalls, yet I will exult in the Lord, I will rejoice in the God of my salvation. — Hab. 3:17–18
Many times in our lives we will find no figs on the tree and no cattle in the stalls. When we find ourselves questioning in pride what God is—or isn’t—doing, we need to remember “the righteous will live by his faith” (Habakkuk 2:4).
Peace comes as a result of faith—of believing that God remains in control and works all things for our good.
Tell me what you think: What helps you take a deep breath when it seems God steps on your air hose? To leave a comment, just click here.
Adapted from Wayne Stiles, “Nahum,” in Insight’s Bible Application Guide: Isaiah–Malachi (IFL Publishing House, 2015), pages 190-192.