Doubts & Dialogue / Habakkuk / Devotional # 1
How long, Lord, must I call for help and you do not listen or cry out to you about violence and you do not save? Why do you force me to look at injustice? Why do you tolerate wrongdoing? Oppression and violence are right in front of me. Strife is ongoing, and conflict escalates.Habakkuk 1:2-3
“Why is there so much evil and suffering the world?” or “If God is so good, then why is the world a place where injustice prevails and moral corruption plagues every crevice of our counties, communities, and countries?”
I’m not sure there’s a person alive who hasn’t had these questions come to the forefront of their minds, while at the same time pushing God to the back. These questions don’t stay questions—they harden into conclusions. What began as an innocent question transforms into something that makes us feel guilty. Doubt.
Doubt, although known for being a cunning foe, is something that can work in our favor. Doubt is something that we consider to be the extinguisher of faith, but it doesn’t have to be. It can be the very thing that enhances it. So why does doubt scare us? It scares us because we see it as being a paved pathway to full-out disbelief, but it doesn’t have to be. It’s actually the best pathway to honest dialogue.
Habakkuk epitomizes exactly what I mean by doubt leading to dialogue. Before the birth of our precious Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, God raises up prophets to teach God’s people how to walk faithfully. Habakkuk’s story is unique because he doesn’t spend his time talking to people on behalf of God, but talking to God on behalf of people. He’s essentially asking, “WHERE ARE YOU, GOD?”
We see and learn a great deal from the prophet. First, he normalizes doubt. Prophets were God’s guys sent to share God’s truths. And if he wasn’t immune to doubt, what makes us think that we should be?
Second, Habakkuk’s cries, like ours, show us the location of our cares. We care about what we cry about. Do you care about injustice? Do you care that about the times when the wicked have their feet on the necks of the righteous (Hab. 1:4)? Do you seek the Lord’s wisdom about the oppression and violence (Hab. 1:3) that goes about right under our noses? The biblical narrative screams that it’s unbiblical to see injustice and act like we don’t.
Finally, what I love about the first chapter of the small yet profound story is the fact that God responds. He talks back! He promises to execute judgment and justice (Hab. 1:5-6). God is clear about what He will do, then just as He is now. Even though His clarity doesn’t alleviate us from confusion, His willingness to be just is at the core of His character. So to answer the question about evil and suffering…I’m not sure there can be a clear, precise answer that is specific enough to get at the heart of our question. But what I can provide is a solace for the soul: the chaos of the world doesn’t get to define the character of God.
Prayer: Father, help our souls to rest in the fact that justice and righteousness are the foundations of our throne. Help us to have faith that says that sight is inadequate to declare the silence of God. We adore you for the depths of your sovereignty and solace that are even more tangible and true than our doubts and disagreements could ever aspire to be. In Christ’s name. Amen.