I complain to God sometimes. Do you?
- The evening news pulls my bow into a frown every time I watch it, but turning it off doesn’t help any.
- Plans get diverted and amended a bazillion times. I get tired of it and finally tell God about it.
- Situations get a little choppy.
- The bills come in way-faster than the deposits.
- The basement floods at the worst-possible time, and it’s nothing I can fix myself.
- Mean people thrive. That’s not what the bumper sticker says, but they get the upper hand and they bully their way into dominance. I tattle to God about it.
- Injustice seems normal and righteousness feels like a social disease or something.
- The “good life” misses the bulls-eye. Okay, it misses the target altogether and sails off into the woods somewhere.
- I work feverishly and do my best but somehow manage to slip further and further behind.
- Well-meaning, good people misread my best intentions (I’m a well-meaning good person too) and before I realize it, good, well-intentioned people are at odds with each other.
- Replenishable things organize to wear out or expire all at once. Tires, refrigerator, water heater, old fillings, semester dues and fees all hit the same week. Gotcha’.
These haven’t all happened in the last few days or anything, but they have all happened. After a while a guy feels like saying “Lord God, are You even listening? Hello? How long, O Lord, do I need to call for help, but you do not listen? Or cry out to you “Violence!” but you don’t save? Why do you make me look at injustice? Why do you tolerate wrong? Destruction and violence are right here in front of me, there’s strife and conflict abounds. The law is paralyzed and justice never prevails. the wicked hem in the rightous and justice is perverted”.
Those aren’t my words, by the way, they’re from Scripture. Habakkuk told the Lord exactly what he thought. (David did too a few times.) The Lord answered Habakkuk — and not with lightning. Apparently it was a reasonable enough exchange that Habakkuk registered another complaint (these are both in Habakkuk chapter 1). And the Lord answered again with reason, wisdom, truth, logic, and a handful of warnings in the form of “woe to him”. He ends with a dead-serious, solemn truth: The Lord is in his holy temple; let all the earth be silent before him. (Hab. 2.20)
I can imagine Habakkuk, index finger over his pursed lips… thinking about all he’s just heard, going through the list of things the Almighty just said. Perusing the truths woven with warnings. He thinks. He reasons. He reflects and remembers. He prays. And it’s while he’s in prayer that he resolves. I will.
It’s at the end of chapter three. Fear and respect in 3:16 ending with “I will wait.”
17 – 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. I will. Period.
And here’s why. It’s a short list.
He is my strength … He enables me to navigate the high places, sharp rocks and steep slopes like a deer (or a mountain goat).
We taught our kids when they were growing up that they could tell us anything – anything at all – so long as they said it respectfully. We wanted them to know they could be completely open with us about whatever it was. For the most part they did pretty well with it too. Habakkuk told God –with respect in his voice– precisely what he was thinking. God answered. Habakkuk went another lap. Carefully. God responded. And the created saw the power and wisdom of the creator.
God answers. Every time. He may not change anything in our circumstances. But He hears. He knows. He has reasons. What’s more, He walks through life’s trouble with His children when He chooses not to intervene. I need to remember that. And I hope I do as well with my resolve as Habakkuk did.
I will rejoice in the Lord. I will be joyful in God my Savior. The Sovereign Lord is my strength. Count me in. I will.