Habakkuk is full of questions for God. He opens up right away in verse 2 of the first Chapter asking, “O LORD, how long shall I cry for help, and you will not hear?” Every human being will wrestle with the problem of evil in the world. The problem is it usually comes too late. “Why did God allow such a thing to happen?” There will be no rational answer to that question in the middle of the suffering. No one can think straight in the midst of great pain. The time to reflect deeply on the existence of evil in the world is before it overtakes us. God’s truth works best as a preventative medicine. It should be seen more as proper diet, exercise, and vitamins, rather than radiation therapy, chemotherapy, or other drugs taken to cure the disease once acquired. The person who is well grounded in God’s truth is much more likely to be able to bear up under suffering than the one unprepared.

The Bible presents us with an all-powerful and all-loving God.  Therefore, if this is true we might expect God to prevent all evil and stop all suffering. But He doesn’t. Our emotions then drive us to think that God has abandoned us. This is exactly what happened to Job. Lawson points out, “The lack of response from heaven, despite his many pleas, had been a heavy burden for him to bear. Job had cried out to God again and again, but there had been no answer. The heavens had been as brass. Job had persistently appealed for an appearance before God, but there was no reply. Time and time again, he had requested a chance to argue his case before God in heaven. But permission had been denied by default. He repeatedly implored God for a change in his circumstances, but there had been no relief from above—only silence. This lack of response from God led Job to conclude that God was indifferent and uncaring toward him.”[1] But once Job repented of his need for God to explain himself, God spoke to Job. God led Job to understand that he did not know what God knew. He could not do what God could do. He was in no position to question God. It was this that led Job to say, “Though you (God) slay me, yet will I trust in you.”

All the Prophets make it clear that righteousness is not an issue of religious ritual. It’s an issue of relationship. We must trust God amidst it all. He has promised to deal with evil, and we must trust Him to do so in His time as we hold on to scriptural truths like Matthew 10:29-31, “But not a single sparrow can fall to the ground without your Father knowing it. And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows.” Habakkuk is going to come to this understanding as well through his questioning. He will tell us the most important verse, Habakkuk 2:4, “But the righteous shall live by faith.”

[1] Lawson, Steven J. 2005. Job. Edited by Max Anders. Holman Old Testament Commentary. B&H Publishing Group.