Offbeat #13 - Habakkuk Part 1

Are you allowed to have a favorite prophet? I don’t know, but my favorite prophet fits firmly in the offbeat category. I would say there are certainly more important prophets (Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, etc.), but none has had more direct impact on my faith as Habakkuk. So, over the next few weeks, I simply want to tell you why I love Habakkuk and what I think we can learn from his book.
Habakkuk’s book begins with Habakkuk’s complaint. This prophet is heartbroken and angered over the sinfulness of his people, Israel. The people are violent and bent on injustice, and so Habakkuk cries out for God to do something about it. What first gripped me about Habakkuk was his audacity, “O Lord, how long shall I cry for help, and you will not hear?” Can you really say stuff like that to God? Surely God is going to smite Habakkuk, right?
Well, it might surprise you to know that there is actually a pattern of talking to God this way throughout the scriptures. Another great example is in Psalm 13, “How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me?”
Even Jesus, from the cross, expresses his agony and brokenness in brutal honesty before God. In the moments before his death, quoting Psalm 22, Jesus cried out, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46).
Coming back to Habakkuk, we see how God responds to such bold and honest questioning. He doesn’t strike Habakkuk down. He doesn’t even rebuke him. No, instead he answers and tells Habakkuk what his plan is for dealing with Israel’s sin. While I can’t promise that God will always respond in the way we want him to, we can learn from Habakkuk that God isn’t afraid of our questions, doubts, or even our anger. It doesn’t shake him, and it doesn’t cause him to stop loving us. On the contrary, being transparent with God - baring our true feelings: good, bad and especially ugly - is one of the best gateways to deeper intimacy with him.
I first encountered Habakkuk in a season of life where I was carrying a lot of doubts and anger. Often, it’s our doubts that keep us from his presence, either because we’re afraid he won’t answer or we’re afraid he’ll be disappointed in us. Habakkuk challenged me otherwise. Perhaps you’ve heard the phrase, “come as you are.” This is exactly what God desires us of. We can either wrestle with our struggles alone or we can do it in God’s presence. The former way leads to toxicity. Our struggles just poison us from within. On the other hand, being open and vulnerable with God leads to intimacy, healing, and transformation.
“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” – Matt. 11:38
“All who the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.” – John 6:37
“The Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come.’ Let anyone who hears this say ‘come.’ Let anyone who is thirsty come. Let anyone who desires drink freely from the water of life.” – Rev. 22:17
“’Come now, let’s settle this,’ says the Lord. ‘Though your sins are like scarlet, I will make them as white as snow.’” – Isaiah 1:18
So, are there things you’re afraid of bringing into God’s presence? Are there doubts, fears, or anger bubbling under the surface that you’re refusing to acknowledge? I’d encourage you to get alone with God and let it out. You might do this well verbally. For others it helps to write it out. In either case, this practice could a powerful next step in inner healing and in developing deeper intimacy with God.

Sean's Picks

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