“O Lord, how long shall I cry, and thou wilt not hear! even cry out unto thee of violence, and thou wilt not save! Why dost thou shew me iniquity, and cause me to behold grievance? for spoiling and violence are before me: and there are that raise up strife and contention.” ~ Habakkuk 1:2-3
Habakkuk had been praying for what seemed to him to be a long time. He had asked God to do something about the social degradation, caused by sin, that he saw in his community. But despite his repeated prayers, God, he believed had not acted. And so Habakkuk was frustrated. Indeed, he was especially frustrated because it was affecting his own life—notice the three mentions of “me” in verse 3.
Many Believers can identify with Habakkuk, sometimes it seems that our prayers for change go unanswered:
- Is God really listening?
- Does He even care?
- Why hasn’t He given me a job to care for my family?
- Why is my baby still so sick?
- Why isn’t He doing something about abortion?
- Why is the incidence of child molestation on the rise?
- Why doesn’t God do something about those horrible Democrats?
- Why doesn’t God do something about those horrible Republicans?
- Why doesn’t God do something about injustice?
There are two key lessons that can be drawn from this passage. The first is that we must focus our efforts in the right direction. Habakkuk cared enough to be frustrated. More of us should be frustrated about the evils in our society. Frustration with God is better than apathy or indifference. Frustration with God indicates that we are looking in the right place; that we are looking to the right source.
My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring?
O my God, I cry in the day time, but thou hearest not; and in the night season, and am not silent.
But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel.
Our fathers trusted in thee: they trusted, and thou didst deliver them.
They cried unto thee, and were delivered: they trusted in thee, and were not confounded.
Notice, Habakkuk did not show frustration with the government; he did not even seem frustrated with the people. Habakkuk recognized, rightly that he had to look to God alone for help. Only God could make a change. Man, unaided by God’s grace, cannot of himself change and do right. If God does not direct and empower us, we will not choose to obey His will: we will not choose righteousness.
The second lesson is that we should continue in prayer. Habakkuk’s frustration with God came about because he had been praying for a long time for a change. Habakkuk had wrestled over and over again with God about needing a change for his people. This wasn’t a one-time prayer. Many of us do not much of a prayer life, but Habakkuk was a prayer warrior. We should all be prayer warriors.
“Pray without ceasing.” ~ 1 Thessalonians 5:17
In Habakkuk 1:5, God (finally!) answered Habakkuk’s prayer… in His perfect time.
It might seem that God isn’t answering our prayers, but that does not mean we should give up and it does not mean we should look for help anywhere else. Eventually, God will answer. He might not answer in the way we expect, and the time may seem long from our human perspective. But He WILL answer.