Habakkuk: I Yet Will Triumph in the Lord


Oh, how we question God’s ways, assuming He’s forgotten us, wondering why things happen the way they do. Little does He stop the violent hurt of our day. The threat of dreadful ilk abounds among our citizenry—not only by our machination but from nature’s forces most unyielding.

The world is unequal, as everybody with a smear of experience perceives is true. Yet, we chafe when others less qualified shoot on ahead while we’re ignored or let go. Do they tingle and surge with more command, savvy, or strength?

Those times of longing and testing descend as nighttime deepens before dawn. Lost and lonely, we discover ourselves with darkness surrounding and enshrouding us. Does God slink away whenever we need Him most?

Don’t God’s people take their complaints and hidden concerns to Him? Though we muse on His mysteries or chatter in vain, we still go straight to our heavenly Father. Job, the preeminent Old-Testament sufferer, did, as did Prophet Jeremiah in Lamentations. In Psalm 22, David cried out. “My God! My God! Why do you abandon me?” Later, Jesus took David’s cries as He dies, when circumstances worsened before the rise of something better.

So, too, did Habakkuk unload his worry and agony in prayer. The date is 605 BC, when King Jehoiakim ruled, who advanced himself as answerable to no one. The times are savage as strange armies flex their muscles. International intrigues surround as violence rocks the foundations of their society. Often Habakkuk intercedes for his nation. Though he senses darker days loom before they’ll burst brighter and brilliant.

Despondent, he complains (in chapter 1). Why am I suffering from such turmoil? Can you, God, not end this anguish? In daylight and dark, I lament for help, yet You don’t answer. Fierce and ravaging violence afflicts my people, and strife and tension are everywhere. The evil ones overwhelm the faithful, perverting decency and justice.

Though God isn’t indifferent, for, in ways unseen, He prepares to bring His sanction, orchestrating distant Babylonians, to attack Judah. Reckless and grim, these conquerors march across the continent, spreading death, destruction, and carnage to cast their kingdom upon the land. Fearsome and dreadful, their morality and honor are of their own making. The horde will advance, trampling those chosen people into the ground, drinking her lifeblood as wine.

Aware of God’s plan, Habakkuk raises a second objection, daring God to hearken to his pleas (1:12-17). How can the Almighty use Babylon? A nation frantic with idol worshippers where God-devoted men find no peace, and the shameless thwart repentance. At least Judah still hastens with a lick of virtue—well, more than those Gentile invaders, Habakkuk believes.

Angry, Habakkuk is defiant. Why are You silent? The wicked, O God, consume the uncorrupted, devouring everything in their path. Beyond our call or cry, they crave and pleasure for more, considering only themselves. Will they keep grabbing, devastating our land, breaking our bonds of blood, and making us swallow the cup of sadness (1:13, 17)?

Though its message may not resemble so, Habakkuk resonates with hope to those beleaguered in their bleakest night before the glimmerings of dawn. Heed its wounded words as they weave a path through Judah’s chaos, forward from her frustrations into a confident expectation. For those who sense themselves adrift in a downward spiral, this prophet shows how God provides His blessings, which leads to possibility and promise.

Did we not recognize God providing His outlet of prayer? Thus, Habakkuk expressed his frustration, anger, hurt, and fear. Remember, our prayers ask not only for what we understand we need. For God wants open and willing hearts, bringing our unspoken words and fears into the light and laying them at His feet.

Such are the Psalms. In thankful songs, laments over tragedy, and hymns of joy, they express love, hate, gratitude, and sorrow. Confident or questioning, despairing or hopeful, we may often sense their changing moods along the way. The act of praying shows we recognize our hopeless turnings can change as God listens and acts.

In the first verse of chapter 2, we discern Habakkuk astir with steadfast confidence, “I will wait to see what God says to me.” Twice, he bespoke his complaints in coupled prayers ascending to heaven on high. Now, God responds, though not as Habakkuk expects, through a revelation shown to him. In a vision, the Lord’s Word displays to his astonished eyes, not only his ears.

So God comes with answers unambiguous, instructing the prophet to make the picture plain, turning sight into sentences on tablets of stone. An abiding utterance from God for every season, explicit and unmistakable to those reading or listening. Today, those bereft of hope can turn to God’s written text, His dispatch of Law and Gospel for this fallen world. For us, Scripture’s sacred pages letter with lines of truth, where divine reality rings out and resounds for both eye and ear. Yes, our Lord’s ancient voice survives, and His Word endures.

Now, the third reason for hope blazes bright but distant, with its fulfillment unseen, yet acknowledged. “This vision pertains to an appointed time, longing for fruition, and does not deceive. Though slow to arrive, wait; for its dawning will come and not delay” (Habakkuk 2:3). The answer to our cries is on its way.

In our society of constant entertainment, patience is an excellence, little found, where we’re used to getting what we want. Now, not later. Still, many occurrences take time, which we cannot rush. Such is pregnancy, three seasons long. In our waiting, we learn dependence, which God uses to shape us and grow in certainty toward Him. Doesn’t hope always involve trust, believing God does as He declares in days to come?

So is the fourth and most significant hope-filled blessing God unveils. “The righteous will live by their faith.” Genuine hope and faith intertwine in an inseparable bond, pulsing with the heartbeat of God. The New Testament writer of Hebrews alerts us that “faith is the reality of what we hope for, the proof of things unseen.” Yes, faith gives hope its substance. More than thinking everything can work out right, a person’s true faith believes God shall care for His own.

To Habakkuk, God prophesied a Messiah who comes to reconcile and restore. Too well did our inborn corruption damn our inheritance of eternity, placing each child of Adam on the wrong side of heaven’s judgment. Yet, Jesus caught hold of our sins, reconciling you and me, God’s forlorn creatures, by His death and resurrection. Only trusting in what He achieved—in Him—is the faith by which we stand righteous before God. So, our lives now dwell with Christ in God.

Such hope straddles no idle dream: no wild imagining or a feckless fancy but an unwavering expectation. Yes, God will do as He vowed. A mere illusion? No, Christian hope is imagination wrapped in the swaddling clothes of one’s faith. A willingness to let God be God, doing things His way, according to His timing.

Your belief forges your focus, gives meaning to your mind’s artful thought, and directs your hope. What a gift, enabling you to envision tomorrow’s eternity through the lens of Your Lord, whom you trust. Not mere writings on Scripture’s page, for you realize how everything ends, which can propel you forward through weary days. Do you and I not move with time forever in our grasp? In Christ, we do.

Promised in ages past, whom the ancient prophets proclaimed, Jesus lavishes His rescuing love, overflowing to us into the world. The undertone of our hope flows daily in the rhythm of our Lord, flowing from God’s everlasting mercy and His precious saving gift. So, we are free to give our energies, use each moment for its best, making the most of our talents and possibilities.

The Lutheran Women’s Missionary League teaches us that our hands work for our Savior, and our feet go on His errands. No longer silent in unbelief, our voices sing His praises while our lips proclaim His redeeming love. So, we do not hold back our silver or gold but wish to extend Christ’s kingdom, to bring others into eternal fellowship with Him. A Spirit-given assurance propels our relentless hoping as we persevere by God’s gift of faith.

Yes, you and I live in trust, centered on a trustworthy God. Without fail, He keeps His commitments, proving His trustworthiness. A parade of prophets stated and restated His promise in His waiting patience. No mere nine months, but millennia passed. In the pregnancy of time, God sent His only Son to save us from our sinfulness. From His grace through our faith He supplies, we can regale our risen and reigning Lord, awaiting our home with Him in heaven.

Read through the Old Testament book of Habakkuk, and you’ll find him praying. Swathed in a mantle of belief-filled hope, he focuses, meditates, and ponders, still waiting and believing. The hope inside him burns bright, singing from his soul upon enkindled wings. Through the ages, his words echo, confessing His hope, glowing with the embers of heaven.

May his last three verses work their way within you.

Though the fig no blossoms bear,
nor vines their fruits display,
should olive trees yield not their store,
and fields no food betray.

If flocks, each from the fold, are torn,
or cattle stalls stand void,
I yet will triumph in the Lord,
and in my God, rejoice.

The Lord, my strength, He makes my feet
sure-footed evermore,
swift as the leaping deer is fleet,
to walk where eagles soar. Amen.