Questioning GodI’ve been diving into the book of Habakkuk for an upcoming speaking opportunity. Habakkuk is one of the minor prophets, whose name means “embrace” or “wrestle”. This is a truly fitting name for the type of conversation that we read in this short book (3 chapters) that can be found tucked away in the latter part of the Old Testament.
How long, Lord, must I call for help, but you do not listen?
There’s no big opening here, just cutting to the chase is Habakkuk by firing away with a huge question.
For the record, I don’t think Habakkuk is literally wondering how many minutes, hours, days, months, years he is going to have to wait for God. This is a ‘HEY, don’t you see what’s going on over here!? I’ve been asking and asking and I keep getting nothing.'
Habakkuk’s question is our question. The context of our situation is different, but it is fairly safe to say that all are yearning for God to help in some way.
The stress or injustice with our job.
The pressure to pass these tests and get the grade.
The family drama that never seems to get any better.
The child who wanders from the faith foundation that was set up for them.
How long, Lord, must we call for help?
Hopefully you’re not here looking for a concrete answer on this one. However, there are 3 things that I believe with all my heart when it comes to questioning God:
1 - Continue to call out to God and question anything and everything.
Certainly God is big enough to handle our questions. Habakkuk is often compared to Job, another Old Testament book, because of the questioning of God. Beginning in Job 40, God responds to Job and reminds him of all the great, expansive things God has done. Job’s questioning brings a sobering reminder of how HUGE God is. Perhaps the prophet Isaiah’s writing says it best when he relays this message from the Lord:
“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts."
Habakkuk is a great book to see how honest questioning and dialogue with God brings an intimacy with God. If you haven’t noticed what God is up to as you call out to Him for help, continue to call out to Him.
2 - Open your eyes to see the unexpected.
God told Habakkuk that He was about to do something right in front of him that Habakkuk wouldn’t beleive even if God himself told him about it. Before we get too excited about these possibilities, it’s important to remember that God was talking about using the Babylonians to lay seige to the Israelites in Judah because of their sinful ways and refusal to acknowledge the One True God. Not at all the answer that Habakkuk was hoping for. Yet, God was going to get the glory by using such a brutal world power. This is beyond surprising to Habakkuk.
Sometimes God’s answer to my plea doesn’t make sense.
There was a time when I was afraid of little kids. You can ask Erin, my wife, about this. She was kind of worried about our relationship working out in the very beginning of our time dating because she has a great way of working with kids and there I was afraid of them. Several years ago, I began praying about how God could use me as a church leader, and I kept seeing over and over that God was putting opportunities to work with families and little kids directly in my path. What was once the furthest possibility for my life direction became reality as I served as a children’s minister for a little over 4 years.
3 - Spend some time in front of the mirror.
Don’t check out on me. This isn’t going to be some hard truth about how our behavior or sin has led to the situation that we’re in. (Which may or may not be true.)
Rather, what if God is about to do something in you that you would not believe it if you were told about it? What if God needs to show you something instead of tell you something? And the only way that you can embrace God’s truth for you in the midst of this situation is for you to change.
Questioning God is a part of the journey, but it isn’t the destination.
What has been your experience with questioning God?
I serve at a church that is 180 years old this year. Over 100 years ago (literally), the church was looking to re-locate to a more strategic location to stay better connected to the community in which they were located. This was not an easy decision to make and there was plenty of conversations, meetings and deliberations to figure out where exactly to go next.
It appeared that the church found the ideal location...for them.
This new location, however, did not work out so well for one member and their family to be able to get to church to worship. You see, there was a large wooded area between the church's new location and this member's farm land. This was back in an age before cars became commonplace, and making the trip would not be practical, nor easy. You can imagine the tension in the room when the group feels like they have finally reached a consensus, only to come to that deflated realization that there is more work to be done.
At the heart of my writing and speaking is this quest for clarity. This is far from some elitist pursuit of communication, in fact, I believe it is an act of service to whomever would read or listen to what I have to say. But more than that, I believe this quest is spiritual.
My faith is my compass for life. I regularly look to the Bible for wisdom and guidance. It is there that I find the source of faith, hope, and love in Jesus. Jesus is the embodiment of God's love for all of us. I love Scripture, but it is challenging. One of the fundamental challenges is this concept of the straight path. It is the straight path that is pleasing to God. The writer of Proverbs describes how God will make your path straight.
"Trust in the LORD with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight."
John the Baptist was the clarifying voice who was sent to proclaim the good news about Jesus, the Messiah, the Son of God. This verse is written by Mark, but was actually a prophecy from Isaiah from hundreds of years earlier:
"...a voice of one calling in the wilderness,
'Prepare the way for the Lord,
make straight paths for him."
This is my hope in writing, that straight paths will be created to see God at work. God is still speaking to us through the pages of Scripture and through those who are devoting their lives to living by their teachings.
I have spent the last decade dedicating my life to pointing people of all ages to the living God. I don't believe that this is a fruitless endeavor. There are kids giving up time each week to memorize Scripture. There are organizations started to make a dent in the hunger problem in their community. There are college students who change courses and move to foreign lands to pursue the calling that God has to reach a new people group with the good news of Jesus. There are people diagnosed with cancer who soldier through chemotherapy remembering that in this world they will have trouble, but they can take heart because Jesus has overcome the troubles of this world.
One of my favorite verses in the entire Bible is vague and at the same time so inspiring:
"Jesus did many other things as well.
If every one of them were written down,
I suppose that even the whole world
would not have room for the books
that would be written."
Back to that group, way back when, that was looking to re-locate the church building. They heard about the difficulty that the relocation would cause and it wasn't long before one of the men leading the re-location project offered to create a straight path between the new location and the farm. This story is inspiring to me, and hope it will serve to move you to see that creating straight paths are worth the work.