Pouring Your Heart Out

Do we think we shouldn’t question God?  Have no right to ask him what he’s doing?  Think we shouldn’t moan to him about our lot, because it “is”?

Habakkuk had no such worries – and because he asked, God answered him, which gave him peace.

Habakkuk 1:1-4

I am Habakkuk the prophet. And this is the message that the Lord gave me.

Habakkuk Complains to the Lord

Our Lord, how long must I beg
for your help

    before you listen?
How long before you save us
    from all this violence?
Why do you make me watch
    such terrible injustice?
Why do you allow violence,
lawlessness,
crime, and cruelty
    to spread everywhere?
Laws cannot be enforced;
    justice is always the loser;
criminals crowd out honest people
    and twist the laws around.

The Lord Answers Habakkuk Again

While standing guard
    on the watchtower,
I waited for the Lord’s answer,
before explaining the reason
    for my complaint.
Then the Lord told me:
“I will give you my message
    in the form of a vision.
Write it clearly enough
    to be read at a glance.
At the time I have decided,
    my words will come true.
You can trust what I say
    about the future.
It may take a long time,
but keep on waiting—
    it will happen!

“I, the Lord, refuse to accept
    anyone who is proud.
Only those who live by faith
    are acceptable to me.”

I may have mentioned before how much I love Habakkuk.  Discovering this book kept me sane for a long time when (almost) my whole world was falling apart.

In fact, having gone back and read it again, I’m going to repeat what I said three years ago, because it still very much holds true:

I don’t know about you, but I’ve got a list of questions I want to ask God when I get to meet him.

I think that’s why I love the book of Habakkuk.  Habakkuk is a man not afraid to ask difficult questions of God.

He sees the injustice in the world.  That evil people prosper, and the honest struggle.

He asks God, “How long?”  How long until you answer my questions, how long until you do something?  How long until the law and justice find their place in the world again?

God answers Habakkuk – the time is coming.  The world will be sorted out, but it may seem like a long time to us.  We may yet have times of questioning to come.

Sometimes we think we shouldn’t question God – that he is almighty, and knows what he is doing.  That’s the very reason why we should ask him!  We know that questioning is a good learning tool, so why not ask questions of God, if it is what is really on our heart – because that is what God longs to hear – what is on our heart.

If we don’t get the answer to our prayers that we want to, do we give up?  Are we faithful in prayer, bringing situations to God, and waiting for him to deal with them?  The life of faith may require continuing belief, long after reason and knowledge have been exhausted.  But it is right faith, because God is a faithful God.

Life is full of unanswered questions – for now.  One day it will all make sense to us, because we will see the full picture when God reveals it.

The best thing about Habakkuk for me is he learns to live with the questions.  Habakkuk’s faith, though tested, is not broken.  His faith, his experience of God, is that God will answer.  God is watching – his answer – “Wait – for God’s time”.

His book ends with these words:

Fig trees may no longer bloom,
or vineyards produce grapes;
olive trees may be fruitless,
and harvest time a failure;
sheep pens may be empty,
and cattle stalls vacant–but I will still celebrate
because the LORD God
saves me.
The LORD gives me strength.
He makes my feet as sure
as those of a deer,
and he helps me stand on the mountains.

Even though, even though all these things are still happening, we can trust that God is in ultimate control.  All may not yet be right with the world, but God continues to hold us and gives us the strength we need.  Habakkuk found a way to live with not always having answers, but finding something in that, and still being able to cling on because of his faith in God, when everything else had left him.

We might only be hanging on by our fingertips, but God is hanging on to us.

To quote that old saying,

We may not know what the future holds, but we know who holds the future

God is with us in the mess and the pain.

So let’s pray.  Lets wait on God.  And let’s share with the world what God says.


Don’t be afraid to pour your heart out to God, to ask him questions.  It shows you care.  And God will answer.

Thank you Lord
that you are someone we can always talk to,
always share the truth of our emotions with;
that you don’t recoil
and are not shocked by our audacity.
Thank you that you want to know the truth of our feelings
and can deal with it.

So today,
I bring you my questions,
my anger,
my fear
– knowing that you can take it,
hold it
and hold me.

Thank you
that though the way may not seem obvious,
that we may not be able to see even the light at the end of the tunnel,
even though life throws its worst at us
You are still God,
you love me,
you hold me tight
and help me to stand against the storms.

 

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