By Joseph Ametepe
"How long, O LORD, will I call for help, and You will not hear? I cry out to You, 'Violence!' Yet You do not save" (Habakkuk 1:2).
The prophet, Habakkuk, is a rather obscure figure in the Old Testament. The Bible says nothing of his birthplace or tribal origin. But it does reveal to us that Habakkuk was a committed and courageous man who was not shy to ask God the difficult questions. In fact, one can say that the prophetic book of Habakkuk is a book of questions. In all, Habakkuk asked a total of ten questions in this brief book (seven in chapter 1, two in chapter two, and one in chapter three). Habakkuk didn't hold back from asking the tough questions regarding the age-old problem of evil and human suffering at the hands of the wicked. But he did so with a sincere and surrendered heart. He asked these questions with an attitude of humility. He didn't think he knew better than God. He poured out his heart to God in a spirit of sincerity and submission to His sovereignty.
I like Habakkuk. He came into God's presence with pressing and perplexing questions on his heart. He didn't follow our clever ACTS (Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, Supplication) rule. His heart was burdened with practical questions and matters of justice. Therefore, he wasted no time in unloading his questions to God. Most believers in Jesus Christ can identify with his first question: "How long, O LORD, will I call for help, and You will not hear?" It is a question many of us have asked at some point in our walk with God. If you haven't asked it yet, trust me, a time is soon coming when you'll ask it. Please notice very carefully that Habakkuk was seeking help from God Himself. He was not looking to man or to himself for help. He knew that the help of man is vain, emptiness or nothingness (see Psalm 60:11; 146:3). He knew that God's help is key in the believer's life. He knew that God's help is the difference-maker in His peoples' lives and circumstances. One would therefore expect that since Habakkuk was honoring God by looking to Him for help, God would also honor him by responding promptly to him as He promised in His word (see 1 Samuel 2:30). But that was not the case. God chose in His sovereign wisdom to delay His response. This, of course, further puzzled the perplexed prophet. But he trustingly and expectantly waited for God to respond to him at His appointed time. God didn't disappoint His prophet. Habakkuk's perplexity turned to a psalm of praise and trust in God when He responded to him in the time of His choosing (see Habakkuk 3).
The Hebrew word translated "call for help" is "shava'." It also means "cry for help," or "plead for relief." It is an intense cry for help. The prophet was intensely pursuing God for His difference-making help in his situation. But he didn't receive an immediate response from God. Perhaps, you are in the same situation today. You are sincerely seeking God for His difference-making help in your life and circumstance. You are intensely pleading with God to send relief from His throne. You are pursuing God to hear your cry for help. But all you receive from Him is silence. I mean, complete silence! The tendency at this point is to throw in the towel. Turn away from God. Or take matters into your hand to deal with the pressing situation in your life. Please, don't throw in the towel. Don't turn away from God. Don't take matters into your hand. Trust God. Take God at His word that He hears and that He is working behind the scenes on your behalf. Turn your eyes upon Jesus and look full into His wonderful face by faith. Trustingly and expectantly wait for God. He will in the time of His choosing, also, turn your perplexity into praise. To God be the glory great things He has done and will do in your life and mine!