Trust in God

By Rev. David Wilson Rogers |  August 3, 2013

             There are times when we become frighteningly frustrated with the state of the world today. Values that we hold dear are challenged as out of line and sinful by others. Beliefs that we hold as fundamental are trampled by those who find such thinking sinful. Foundations that we long to see unshakable have been blown apart by the cultural torrents of the modern age. Amid it all, the Church dares to proclaim that Jesus is Lord and frequently, it can be hard to genuinely trust that fact amid overwhelming contemporary evidence to the contrary. Such is the world of the prophet Habakkuk.

            The time was very tumultuous for God’s people. The political climate was so volatile that it was very difficult to distinguish enemies from friends and it was evident that long-time allies were now the betrayers. The nation faced a crisis of leadership and many began to doubt that God really had any power over the raving waves of change sweeping the world. To some, the very existence of God was questionable and to others, the seeming lack of God’s genuine concern over human affairs created a tremendous sense of frustration—even anger.

            Amid this torrent of faith in crisis, Habakkuk cries out to the Lord. The prophet is not reserved or polite when calling God out for inaction. “How long!?” he yells to God. “How long will you do nothing?” Habakkuk boldly challenges God for not intervening in the unfaithful and violent world. He is nothing short of furious.

            His intense anger at God has two powerful lessons for the world of today. The first is that there is no sin in crying out to God with our dissatisfactions and angers. God never punishes Habakkuk for his passionate plea that God do something. The second is that, in the face of those who would discount God’s very existence, Habakkuk trusted God enough to challenge God directly. His very passion toward God reaffirms a genuine faith in God!

            The focus of Habakkuk’s challenge was the very real—and extremely frustrating—question of how God can be present and loving, while so much hatred, evil, and sinful living permeates the world God created.

            It does not matter if one’s Christianity is considered liberal or conservative, evangelical or progressive, contemporary or traditional; to a great extent we all feel this tension today and in many ways, it feels as if God is strangely absent, even to faithful Christians who cry out to be heard and have our understanding of righteousness brought forth into the world.

            God’s reply to Habakkuk speaks to today’s Christians as loudly as it did some 2,600 years ago. There is still hope, but you have to look for it. If you look in the proud for vision and direction, you will not find it as their focus is not God, but themselves and their own personal gain. The sins of the present age arise from the simple deception that things, not God, will be our salvation. While the temptation is real, the shallow nature will ultimately fall apart and God’s righteousness will prevail in the end.

            After God reassures Habakkuk, the prophet unleashes a prayer of hope and promise that claims God’s sovereign and cosmic reign. It is a joyous remembrance of what God has done, and continues to do in the world. The prayer ends with a triumphant reminder that even when life proves to be just the opposite of what we would like, the choice to rejoice in God becomes the Divine strength we need to rise above the truly temporary setbacks and discouragements of life.