There are times in life when we find ourselves in the midst of waiting. Now, we don’t like to wait. In fact, we live in an instant gratification society – fast food, microwaves, faster downloads, faster & faster communication through cell phones and social media – which makes waiting even more challenging. Yet, there are times in our lives when we find ourselves waiting. Maybe it is waiting on a marriage or a re-marriage, waiting on a child, waiting on a job or our dream job, or even waiting on God. So, what we do in the waiting?
There is an Old Testament book that is not widely known, but actually speaks to this idea of waiting – Habakkuk. Habakkuk is one of the 12 Minor Prophets in the Old Testament (not minor because they are less important, but minor because their books are shorter than the Major Prophets). Habakkuk’s name literally means, “to wrestle,” and there is a lot of rich content that resides in three short chapters. As you mine the depths of this book written 2,600 years ago, you find some solid truths that are incredibly relevant to the world we live in today.
Habakkuk calls out to God with two prayer requests (called “complaints”). The first centers around how the children of God in his day (the nation of Judah) have gone away from God. They were neglecting the Torah (the first five books of the Old Testament), there was violence and injustice in the land, and the leadership of the nation was corrupt. So, Habakkuk calls out to God and asks God to do something. Essentially, Habakkuk cries out to God, “Do you see what is happening here? Do you even care?” God answers Habakkuk’s prayer and says, “Yes, I do see, and I am sending the Babylonians to do something about it.”
Habakkuk doesn’t like God’s answer (sound familiar?), so he calls out to God again saying, “God, this isn’t fair. The Babylonians are worse than us, Your people, who you are punishing.” Again, God answers – Habakkuk 2:2-4, “Then the Lord replied: ‘Write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets so that a herald may run with it. For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay. See, he is puffed up; his desires are not upright – but the righteous will live by his faith…”
God tells Habakkuk (and us) three things: Write, Wait and Live by faith.
First, it is so important to write down what God says to you. Studies show we forget 95% of what we hear within 24 hours. If we don’t write down when God speaks to us through His Word, a song, a prayer, a sermon or even a friend, then we will likely forget it and be right back in the same spot looking for an answer. Keep a journal, write a blog, have a notebook by your bed at night. God will speak to us – will we listen and will we remember? Think about this – maybe God was telling Habakkuk to “write down the revelation” as much for him as for us? When God speaks to you, maybe God is telling you to write down what He says as much for you as for your children or others who will one day read your words. There are many Christ-followers who have walked through tough times – like miscarriages, cancer and the like – and yet they have written blogs and books that have ministered to so many others. Write down what God is saying to you.
Second, God tells Habakkuk to wait. All Habakkuk could see is that Babylonians were coming and it looked bad (and it was). But, what Habakkuk didn’t know is that God (just like Habakkuk’s contemporary, Jeremiah, prophesied) was putting Judah in “time-out” (exile) for 70 years, and that He would return a “remnant” to the land. This “remnant” would rebuild the Temple and would prepare the way for the coming Messiah. God was writing a bigger story than Habakkuk could see.
God is writing a bigger story than you can see. God has not left you or given up on you. There is still breath in your lungs for a reason. God has a bigger plan and purpose for your life as well as for the world. Therefore, God says, “wait.” He is not finished yet. Don’t give up on God because He will never give up on you.
Finally, God says, “the righteous will live by his faith.” In the midst of the waiting, God is telling Habakkuk (and us) to trust Him. God is about a relationship, not religion. The Christian walk is about faith in God and God alone. Many times it is in the midst of the waiting that our faith grows the most.
The book of Habakkuk was written over a span of 60 years. Habakkuk learned to wait on God – not a “passive” waiting where you sit around, but an “active” waiting where you are about your Father’s business. Habakkuk prayed, read God’s Word and served the people in his day and generation. We are called to do the same in our day and generation. Be active in making a difference for His Kingdom in the present while you wait for God to fulfill His specific promises in the future.
After waiting on God, Habakkuk makes this incredible statement of faith: “Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.” Habakkuk 3:17-18.
Essentially, Habakkuk comes to this conclusion – God is enough. If everything was taken away, God is enough. Is God enough for you? If everything else in this commercialized world in which we live was taken away, can we still rejoice because of our relationship with God through His Son, Jesus Christ? We must learn to wait on God – not simply for what we want Him to do for us, but because of what He has already done for us. As we live by faith, we fall more in love with God in the good times as well as in the hard times. We understand that God is for us and He will take care of us.
At the end, Habakkuk closes with this verse, “The Sovereign Lord is my strength; He makes my feet like the feet of a deer, He enables me to go on the heights.” Habakkuk 3:19. It is in the prayer and waiting on God that our strength grows. It is in the faith of a Sovereign Lord where we learn to go to new heights in our spiritual life. God wants us to reach our full potential in Him. More than making money, success in our career or even having a family, growing deeper and stronger in our relationship with God is what enables us to accomplish all God desires. God used Habakkuk, in some tough circumstances, to impact others. God is drawing us close to His heart. He is telling us to “write, wait and live by faith.” In the process, we will grow stronger spiritually and we will impact others for His glory.