Have you ever been told that it’s not your place to ever question God? I was told that several times when in my early teen years my dad died before the age of 50. I’m sure the people who told me that meant well, so I don’t hold it against them, but I believe it was one of the worst things said to me. Spend any time in God’s word and you will find it’s a book of struggles, failures, and downers, yet at the same time a book of joy, triumphs, and encouragement–just like real life, because God’s word is real.
People, such as Habakkuk, who were close to God sometimes questioned God. I believe it was a sign of a healthy relationship with him, considering the manner in which they approached him with their questions. Habakkuk lived during a time where everywhere he turned, wickedness prevailed and the righteous suffered grave injustices. So he wanted to know what was up with God and where he was. In the following passage, several things can be noticed, such as, (1) Habakkuk questioned God in a spirit of humility and righteous anger, not defiance; (2) He quoted God’s word to God about what God said in his word; and (3) Habakkuk then placed himself in a position to hear God’s answer and to prepare himself for the correct response to that answer:
O Lord, how long shall I cry, and thou wilt not hear! even cry out unto thee of violence, and thou wilt not save! Why dost thou shew me iniquity, and cause me to behold grievance? for spoiling and violence are before me: and there are that raise up strife and contention. Therefore the law is slacked, and judgment doth never go forth: for the wicked doth compass about the righteous; therefore wrong judgment proceedeth. Habakkuk 1:2-4 (Personally, I know just how Habakkuk felt.)
God’s first response follows in the next verses. He lets Habakkuk know the Chaldeans will be sent to punish wicked Judaeans. However, Habakkuk still had questions as to why God was handling things that way, so he asked:
Art thou not from everlasting, O Lord my God, mine Holy One? we shall not die. O Lord, thou hast ordained them for judgment; and, O mighty God, thou hast established them for correction. Thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity: wherefore lookest thou upon them that deal treacherously, and holdest thy tongue when the wicked devoureth the man that is more righteous than he? … Shall they therefore empty their net, and not spare continually to slay the nations? Hab. 1:12, 13, 17
Then here’s what happened next,
I [Habakkuk] will stand upon my watch, and set me upon the tower, and will watch to see what he will say unto me, and what I shall answer when I am reproved. And the Lord answered me, and said, Write the vision, and make it plain upon tables, that he may run that readeth it. For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry. Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him: but the just shall live by his faith. Hab. 2:1-4
From that point God assures Habakkuk even though the wicked Chaldeans would punish a less wicked Judah, the Chaldeans would themselves be punished and God lists the sins for which both nations would be punished in the end. Habakkuk then was so encouraged that he wrote the whole final chapter of his book to praise God. That’s what happens when you question God in your relationship with him. He shares secrets with you that cause you to praise him which leads to a closer relationship.