Today’s Bible reading is Habakkuk 1 and Luke 20.
We’re not the first to grapple with those big questions when life gets hard: Why is this happening? How long will it last? Where is God? More than 26 centuries ago, Habakkuk the prophet was confused.
O LORD, how long shall I cry for help,
and you will not hear?
Or cry to you “Violence!”
and you will not save?
Why do you make me see iniquity,
and why do you idly look at wrong?
Destruction and violence are before me;
strife and contention arise.
So the law is paralyzed,
and justice never goes forth.
For the wicked surround the righteous;
so justice goes forth perverted. (Hab 1:2-4)
Listen carefully to the LORD’s response:
“Look among the nations, and see;
wonder and be astounded.
For I am doing a work in your days
that you would not believe if told.” (Hab 1:5)
“I am doing a work in your days.” That’s a phrase worth thinking about today.
Habakkuk was frustrated. His perspective was clouded by swirling questions of How? Why? Where? And it was easy in that season to begin making assumptions about God. “Why can’t he see what I can see so clearly? Has he checked out? Doesn’t he care? Is he unable or unwilling to save?”
Habakkuk 1 reminds us that the Lord of heaven and earth was (and is) hearing just fine. He wasn’t idly looking at wrong. His law wasn’t paralyzed. Justice hadn’t gone extinct. He hadn’t forgotten his people or his promises. He was perfectly able to intervene. And he was “doing a work” in Habakkuk’s days, even when the prophet couldn’t see it.
We live in a different era, a different context, within the scope of a completely different (and better) covenant. But isn’t that straightforward statement still worth meditating upon and carrying with us throughout the day? “I am doing a work in your days.”
That work may not be what we expect. It probably isn’t being carried out the way we would envision. It may be the polar opposite of our hopes and dreams; that was certainly true in Habakkuk’s case. At times, we may find it hard to believe. We’re not the first. But isn’t the God of perfect providence still “doing a work” in our days? We may feel frustrated or confused or uncertain about where it’s all going, but the Lord of heaven and earth continues to hear just fine. He isn’t idly looking at wrong. His law isn’t paralyzed. Justice hasn’t gone extinct. He hasn’t forgotten his people or his promises. He’s continuing to weave a tapestry far more abundantly beautiful beyond all that we could ever imagine.
This morning’s reading from Habakkuk 1 made me think of the much more familiar Romans 8.
For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.
Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. (8:24-28)
“I am doing a work in your days that you would not believe if told,” and equipped with that perspective…
…we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. (Rom 5:3-5)