You may have been lazing in a hammock by the lake or playing in the sun this past Sunday, but at First Presbyterian Church of Glen Ellyn we were doing some heavy lifting as we began our new sermon series Waiting on the Lord: Faith and Doubt in Troubled Times.
Why do the wicked prosper?
Why does God not intervene to end suffering?
Why do prayers for deliverance from affliction go unanswered?
Why does God tolerate the persecution of His supposedly beloved children?
If God is so great and so powerful, why does the world look like this?
The prophet Habakkuk puts just such questions to the Lord in chapter one of this small but powerful Old Testament book. Verse 2: “I cry out to you, ‘Violence, violence’ but you do not save.” Verse 3: “Why do you make me look at injustice and tolerate wrongdoing?” Verse 12: “Lord, are you not from everlasting?”
As we saw in the message on Sunday morning, which you can listen to here, the book of Habakkuk is a very ancient book because it is set in the very specific historical context of the 7th Century BC; a time when the city of Jerusalem is an evil place and will soon be under siege by the powerful, ruthless army from Babylon. Yet, in another sense, this is a very contemporary book because it is so relevant to our modern circumstances. These are often our present-day questions for God. “Why are you silent? Are you going to tolerate this? Are you really going to let death overcome our loved ones? We cry out to you, and you don’t save us!”
What we see in chapter one of this book is that, on one hand, Habakkuk is wrestling with God, but on the other hand, the thought never even enters his mind to walk away from God. In the midst of his sufferings and lament, he is still praying, still wrestling, and still obeying God. Take note of how the prophet is dealing with his sufferings. He is not Tweeting about it, he is not muttering to himself about it, he is not walking away from God; he is actually moving toward God with his questions.
He is praying.
If you don’t have questions for God, you don’t have a Biblical faith. Having faith does not mean an absence of tough questions or unresolved spiritual issues. Having faith means facing those questions and issues honestly and directly, in the midst of an ongoing relationship with God.
Habakkuk shows us what it looks like to cry out directly to God with honest questions and fears, and to move forward in a relationship of trust in the Almighty, even in the midst of our questions and protests.
Grateful to have you all as my question-asking partners in this journey of faith,