In Habakkuk 1:1-13 we see that the land of Judah was filled with violence, Injustice, destruction, strife, conflict, and the law was paralysed.
How long Lord must I call for help, but you do not listen?
……was Habakkuk’s first cry and complaint. He was frustrated that God was not acting to judge the sins of the nation.
Habakkuk’s second complaint was WHY? If you are righteous, why are you letting evil go unpunished? Habakkuk’s complaint could very well relate to the situation in our world today. Daily we hear of civil unrest, rapes, murders, and other atrocities.
Christians are not immune from suffering and evil as 200 million Christians in at least 60 countries today are denied fundamental human rights solely because of their faith.
Like Habakkuk we often ask how long am I going to pray without getting an answer or WHY is all this happening to me?
We are not alone in our search for answers. Moses, Joshua, Gideon, Nehemiah, Job, David, and many others complained.
One third of the psalms are prayers/songs of complaints. The entire books of Job and Lamentations express the frustration and pain of suffering by the faithful.
God wants us to pour out our hearts to Him.
On numerous occasions, prayers were answered in the Bible but we tend to forget that there are many occasions when prayer was left seemingly unanswered as when Moses begged God to let him lead his people into the Promised Land or when Paul prayed three times for the removal of that “thorn in the flesh”.
When confronted with seemingly unanswered prayers like Habakkuk, we need to realise five truths:
1. God’s ways are often mysterious
(i) God’s inaction. (1; 2a) God seems to be strangely silent and inactive when we witness terrorist attacks, wars, pandemics, legalising of abortions and recognitions of same-sex marriages.
(ii) God’s unexpected providences. (1;5-6)
God’s ways are often mysterious regarding his unexpected providences.
God’s reply was the last thing that Habakkuk expected.
Look at the nations and watch—and be utterly amazed. For I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe, even if you were told. I am raising up the Babylonians, the ruthless and impetuous people, who sweep across the whole earth to seize dwelling places not their own.
God might sometimes overwhelm us by confronting us with a war or a terrorist attack or a pandemic or some other disaster.
(iii) God’s unusual Instruments. (1:6) God’s ways are often mysterious regarding His unusual instruments. The godless Babylonians were raised by God to chastise Judah.
God has used strange and unexpected instruments to bring His purposes to pass, and the pandemic raging around the world today may well be the instrument to bring His purposes to pass.
2. God may be distant and silent to our prayers because we misunderstand the nature of prayer. True prayer is God-centred but often we pray out of selfish motives.
In James 4:3, we read: When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.
3. Prayer may go unanswered due to our unbelief.
In James 1:6 we read that when a person prays, ..he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.
4. Our sin is another reason for unanswered prayers.
But your iniquities have separated you from your God. And your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He will not hear.
Our sins cut us off from God and have formed barriers which block us off from God’s purpose and plan:
The Lord is far from the wicked, but He hears the prayer of the righteous.
5. The time is not right.
Sometimes, the problem with unanswered prayer is that it is not God’s time yet and we need to wait and be patient:
I waited patiently for the Lord; He turned to me and heard my cry.
God used the king of Babylon as an example of how not to live when replying to Habakkuk. That king lived by pride. God said , ..but the just shall live by faith. In other words, Habakkuk, “Trust me. I see the wicked in Judah, and I will act. But until I do, you must trust me.”
That was the message to Abraham “You will have a son. Trust me”
And that is the message to all who ask today, WHY or HOW LONG The answer is always the same: TRUST ME!
Whether God answers our prayers literally or seems to do as he did with Habakkuk and appears to be silent, let’s remember what Paul says:
In all things God works for the good of those who love Him.
What a comforting declaration!
The word “works” is present action which means that God is continually working all things together for good.
Take heart! God is in control of the believer’s life. Daily and moment by moment, God is arranging and re-arranging all things for your good and mine.