Habakkuk & some thoughts on ‘How Longs’ & ‘Whys’

Habakkuk 1:1-4

The oracle that Habakkuk the prophet saw – O LORD how long shall I cry for help, & You will not hear? Or cry to You “violence’ & You will not save? Why do you make me see iniquity & why do You look idly at wrong? Destruction & violence are before me; strife & contention arise. So the law is paralyzed, & justice never goes forth. For the wicked surround the righteous, so justice goes forth perverted.

It’s the ‘How Longs” that get me. They stand out as a disappointed cry, laments even, bordering on indignant anger. Habakkuk sees injustice, wrong, violence, wickedness all around him, & he’s been crying out to the LORD for help with no visible or audible response.

The WHY’s also get me; why do You idly look at wrong? As though Habakkuk incredulous at what he is seeing… wondering how the LORD God he knows could NOT be acting on behalf of him & his people Israel considering what’s happening to & with them.

Part of the how & why this is at the forefront of my thoughts likely is the book I’m sloooowly reading through, Disappointment with God. Lately, I feel especially sensitized to the laments, sighs, suffering & disappointments in the world around me.

Its kinda like when you get a new car, say a white Ford Explorer. Then, it seems that everywhere you go, you see these white Explorers all over the place & wonder how you never saw them before.

I recognize in my own heart quiet echoes of these ‘How Longs’ & ‘Whys…’ & I wonder if the reason that I don’t stop coming back to God with prayer & expectancy, & I don’t blame Him for my issues & problems, &/or the tragedies around me is because of what I had to learn through my own ‘dark times of the soul,’ like when my brother Johnny had cancer & ultimately died.

In his last day, I vividly remember visiting Johnny downstairs at my parents – seeing the very obviously approaching death in his declining body. It was overwhelming, so I went upstairs & ran outside into what I think was early evening…

Remember standing facing the Alpers’ house & the familiar West Carson horizon… & looking to the twilight sky – praying, crying, asking, pleading in desperation for God to heal my brother, to take away this cancer, to restore his health that he would live.

It was a surreal experience that I think, I know changed me… I still remember the sense I got at that moment of God’s Presence. It may have been just my impression, but I also sensed a sadness greater than me. I wondered if it was Him, & He was sad. I thought so. And while I wanted more than anything that God would heal Johnny, I also felt comforted, & at peace.

The circumstance hadn’t changed. Johnny died. But God stood with me, & I knew it. He was WITH me, & I was aware.

Made me thinks that the nearness of God isn’t always tangible, but it is a fact. He will never leave me or forsake me.

And then Habakkuk gets an answer – the LORD will respond. Is responding. Has responded.

There will be vengeance; there will be chastisement. Intervention. There will be a revelation of His Presence so strong that ‘the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD just like the waters cover the sea’

And Habakkuk praises – gives thanks – asks for mercy.

LORD, I pray for mercy… & I thank You for never abandoning me, for Your Presence, & for Your nearness. Work in me the things You want to see be true of me – thank You for Your patience with me & my questions, for not getting angry at the How Longs or the Why’s. That You love me through it by standing with me. Help my unbelief, fill me with faith.