“O LORD, how long shall I cry for help, and you will not hear? Or cry to you “Violence!” and you will not save? Why do you make me see iniquity, and why do you idly look at wrong? Destruction and violence are before me; strife and contention arise. So the law is paralyzed, and justice never goes forth. For the wicked surround the righteous; so justice goes forth perverted.”(Habakkuk 1:2–4 ESV)
Habakkuk opens this short book asking, “how long shall I cry for help and you don’t hear our cry for deliverance and you not respond?” Sound familiar? It does to me. Wickedness is happening around him and Habakkuk can’t understand why things are turning out this way and where God is in the midst of it. Habakkuk uses the covenant keeping, personal name for the LORD here indicating that He believes God is not absent, but is struggling with where He is and why He seems to be silent. Have you ever been there? I have. These are times where we have to walk by faith and not by sight – times when we believe the unbelievable (2 Corinthians 5:7). Simple, but certainly not easy!
Habakkuk surveys the wickedness, moral bankruptcy & spiritual disconnect and He cannot understand why it seems that the Lord is sitting “idly” by and is not judging the perversity. This sounds like us – “where are you God, why do you seem to be so absent, why are you slow in acting?” This is a common theme in the Bible, Peter addresses the same line of thinking when addresses the scoffers that are among them by saying that God is not distant, disconnected & slow in acting (2 Peter 3). God rarely acts on our timetable and yet we feel compelled to accuse Him of being distant & disconnected, as if we were sovereign.
The laws of God are being completely ignored and the people are doing whatever they please. The law was not impacting their hearts. This is a familiar refrain: “everybody did everything that was right in His own eyes.” Life was hard for the remaining faithful & righteous remnant. It was easy for Habakkuk to feel alone – like God had abandoned Him. We find ourselves in the same shoes at times. All Habakkuk could see were the trees, but God is going to help get his head above the trees so that he can see the forest. Despite the fact that Israel only occupied the promised land for 530 years, God was still faithful to them and to His plan. They were slaves for 400 years in Egypt, lived in the land as a combined kingdom for 530 years and then were under the rule of the Assyrians, the Babylonians, the Persians, the Greeks, and the Romans.
Today we can see how God was working out a beautiful plan of rescue for His elect. And yet when we go through hardships for a day, week, month, year or lifetime we want to cry out to God – “foul, where are you, why are you silent and not acting!” God never promised us ease, comfort or prosperity – He gives us something far greater: Himself. The pain is real, for sure. But our crying out and accusations must ultimately land in a place that says, “not my will, but yours be done,” because we are not sovereign – He is. If you find yourself suffering, struggling or hard pressed, cry out to God. He can handle your questions & accusations. If you will walk in this and trust that God is indeed sovereign and that He is indeed good (and does good [to you]) then you will find that He is enough regardless of whether deliverance comes. The most gracious thing that God could do for us is to give us Himself, which is the very thing that He does at the cross.