How long, Lord, must I call for help,
but you do not listen?
Or cry out to you, “Violence!”
but you do not save?
Why do you make me look at injustice?
Why do you tolerate wrongdoing?
Destruction and violence are before me;
there is strife, and conflict abounds.
Therefore the law is paralyzed,
and justice never prevails.
The wicked hem in the righteous,
so that justice is perverted. Habakkuk 1:2-4
It was an incident that never should have happened. It was unethical, unjust and all around just plain unfair; and I was angry, hurt and disillusioned. Those that I trusted, the ones that should have had my back…didn’t, so I felt betrayed. So, with a broken heart, I did the only thing I knew to do—I cried out to the Lord for help, comfort, refuge and strength.
Habakkuk must have felt the same. His circumstances too were pretty deplorable. Israel was once again stuck in a cycle of perpetual sinning. Like kids on a road trip, he cried out before the Lord with the gut wrenching cry: “How long?” How long would they continue to turn away? How long would he prophesy until he was blue in the face? How long would their torment by opposing nations be? These are all hard and weighty questions with no easy answers. But Habakkuk was unafraid to ask them, embrace reality, and wrestle with God over them. It’s no wonder Habakkuk means “wrestler” and “embracer”. And God honored the honest questions.
I think sometimes we treat God like a human. We forget He is God, supreme over all, and fear that our problems are too big, small, messy, or strange for Him. But the opposite is true. Jeremiah 32:27 asks, is there anything too difficult for God? He is not bothered or burdened with our needs. He is the Good Shepherd who dearly loves His little flock like children. In fact He loves us so much, He asks us to call Him Father. Like a good father, Jesus’ heart is echoed in Psalm 27:8, “My heart has heard you say, ‘Come and talk with me,” and my heart responds, “LORD, I am coming!’” God is not easily put off. He can handle all of our questions, doubts, longings, audacious dreams, frustrations, junk, and struggles. He longs for us to be real, vulnerable, sincere, stripped free of encumberment, and to come boldly before His throne.
Perhaps it’s time to carve out some time to enter your “prayer closet” and have a real, un-canned, unplanned conversation with God. You can do this just by talking to Him, or even by journaling. It’s ok to be real and raw in this time. The point is just to come in a posture of humble surrender, allowing God to hear and wash over you with His love.
By Sheila Rennau