For the last couple of weeks as we have undertaken our new study series entitled Honest To God, I have found myself seeing through the eyes of the prophet Habakkuk. He complained, “How long, O Lord, must I call for help? But you do not listen! ‘Violence is everywhere!’ I cry, but you do not come to save.” This perspective is new for me—the notion that, at least in a moment, God might not come running to the rescue—and I confess it is messing with me.
I have discovered a bias in my heart against un-resolve. A need for happy endings, and in relatively short order. When it comes to enduring the inexplicable, my faith muscles are a bit underdeveloped.
Now that I’m walking a stretch with Habakkuk, I am seeing it everywhere. The lack of simple answers and pretty bows. It’s all over God’s Word, and I’m pretty sure it’s there for a reason. In Psalm 77, look at Asaph’s rawness: “I cry out to God; yes, I shout. Oh, that God would listen to me! When I was in deep trouble, I searched for the Lord.”
Perhaps, like me, you have come to expect the result of such a heart-posture to be God’s heroic deliverance. At least to expect that Scripture would teach us to expect that. But look at what happened next:
“All night long I prayed, with hands lifted toward heaven, but my soul was not comforted. I think of God, and I moan, overwhelmed with longing for his help.”
What? He responded to hard times by staying present, keeping his heart surrendered, and crying out to God. He followed the playbook the the letter. Brother prayed all night, and still he did not find comfort. Trouble turned to anguish; cries became moans; “burdened” gave way to “overwhelmed”.
What hit me was that he stayed. He stayed and stayed. When he prayed through the night and his soul found no comfort, the psalmist still thought of God, and moaned, and longed for his help.
What was his secret? How did he keep his heart before God?
His words: “I think of the good old days, long since ended, when my nights were filled with joyful songs. I search my soul and ponder the difference now. Has the Lord rejected me forever? Will he never again be kind to me? Is his unfailing love gone forever? Have his promises permanently failed? Has God forgotten to be gracious? Has he slammed the door on his compassion? And I said, ‘This is my fate; the Most High has turned his hand against me.’ But then I recall all you have done, O Lord; I remember your wonderful deeds of long ago. They are constantly in my thoughts. I cannot stop thinking about your mighty works.”
Recall. Remember. Rehearse God’s faithfulness. Recite what he has done. Keep record of his care and compassion.
Know that God is who he was, friends, and he always will be. Have you seen enough of his faithfulness to trust him even now? His ways are not our ways, but they are constantly good. He will come. He will restore all things. He is ever at work, and he is thinking of you all the while.