Lord, are you not from everlasting?
My God, my Holy One, you will never die.
You, Lord, have appointed them to execute judgment;
you, my Rock, have ordained them to punish.
Your eyes are too pure to look on evil;
you cannot tolerate wrongdoing.
Why then do you tolerate the treacherous?
Why are you silent while the wicked
swallow up those more righteous than themselves?
You have made people like the fish in the sea,
like the sea creatures that have no ruler.
The wicked foe pulls all of them up with hooks,
he catches them in his net,
he gathers them up in his dragnet;
and so he rejoices and is glad.
Therefore he sacrifices to his net
and burns incense to his dragnet,
for by his net he lives in luxury
and enjoys the choicest food.
Is he to keep on emptying his net,
destroying nations without mercy?
I will stand at my watch
and station myself on the ramparts;
I will look to see what he will say to me,
and what answer I am to give to this complaint. Habakkuk 1:12-2:1
Have you ever prayed fervently for something and then the opposite happened? Usually, the most fervent prayers stem from our deepest emotions. We pray for things like the healing of a loved one or the return of a wayward child. When these kinds of passionate prayers are seemingly met with silence it can be one of the most faith-shaking circumstances.
Habakkuk’s interaction with God carries similar confusion and frustration. His passionate prayer is for justice. He wants God to deal with all the violence and injustice in Israel. God promises to do so by using a more violent and evil nation than Israel is. Our reading today is the prophet’s reaction to this news. He is frustrated, confused, and demands answers. Habakkuk ends his angst-filled prayer with, “I will stand at my watch and station myself on the ramparts; I will look to see what he will say to me, and what answer I am to give to this complaint.” Hab. 2:1.
So what can we learn from this frustrated prophet’s interaction with God? Well, we learn that it is okay to bring our frustrations to God. We also learn persistence. Habakkuk’s posture in prayer is that of persistence and openness. He is committed to actively listening for an answer to his questions.
Is there an area of your life that you have stopped praying about? Maybe you don’t feel as though God has been paying attention, so you simply stopped crying out to him. Be like Habakkuk, “stand watch.” Pick up that old prayer and keep seeking and listening. God’s final answer to Habakkuk is not what he immediately was hoping for, but it is one that settles his heart with trust. Maybe the same can happen for you.
By Aaron Bjorklund