Whoever says "Why, Lord?" must also be willing to listen to His answer

(Photo: Bev Lloyd-Roberts)

Many Christians struggle with 'why' questions. Why does God allow so much injustice? Why does God allow such horrible events in world history? How can a loving and just God allow so much suffering? And why is it financially out of hand or why do I lose my job?

By reading the prophet Habakkuk, I discovered that he was not afraid to ask God why this or that happens. And the surprising thing is that God answers. God is not angry but takes Habakkuk's questions seriously. We too may learn and draw some important lessons.

In Israel there was so much injustice and it seemed that God did nothing. Because Habakkuk did not understand this, he asked God, " 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? "(Habakkuk 1: 2-3).

God answered that He indeed was actively involved: "Behold ye among the heathen, and regard, and wonder marvellously: for I will work a work in your days, which ye will not believe, though it be told you. For, lo, I raise up the Chaldeans, that bitter and hasty nation, which shall march through the breadth of the land, to possess the dwelling places that are not theirs (Habakkuk 1:5-6).

God's message to Habakkuk was: I'm busy, open your eyes! I have everything under control! How is it possible that God will use the Chaldeans? It is a foreign nation without God. They believe in their own power and trust in their own strength. And yet God will use them as His instrument? Habakkuk understands nothing of this. Can it be true that God will use hostile people to chastise us?! Is this the loving God who is referred to as "Father" in the Bible?

The first question of Habakkuk was: why does God do nothing?

The second question of Habakkuk was: why is God so illogical? It did not fit with what Habakuk expected as a prophet of God.

Habakkuk expected that God would use those who are clean and pure, but no, God uses other wicked people as his instrument. He thought it was dishonest and unfair.

Many people say, if God permits this, as He does with wars and disease, accidents and deaths, then I do not follow this God. I would like to say at this point that these things are never the will of God, but happen with His permission.

We would like God to proscribe to our rules; He should act in such a way as we expect from him. But Habakkuk had to accept who God was, that God knows more than we do and we have to accept that. Habakkuk 1:12 says, "Art Thou not from everlasting, O LORD my God, mine Holy One? " This was the pivot around which everything revolved, it was Habakkuk's faith. From that vantage point he could see the problem and the 'why' questions around him.

Habakkuk knew that God would use the Babylonians to awaken his people. They were so stupid to think that they could live without God. Now there was a need to awaken the Chaldeans who have never heard of God and bring them with both feet back on holy ground.

Habakkuk 2:4 says that the just shall live by faith and not according to their circumstances. The condition is that we are just or righteous. Habakkuk is not called the prophet of faith for nothing. Luther created this verse as his starting point. Faith is much more than just to believe 'there is a God'.

Habakkuk fixed his gaze on the Lord his God - Jehovah, the "I am who I am" (Exodus 3:14). He discovered that God is "Holy" and although he did not fully understand what "my Holy" means, he believed it. We too will have to accept and believe that God is sovereign, that He knows what He is doing.

Everything that impossible is, I have to believe. How else can the many Christians who are persecuted for their faith accept this injustice. They are not fatalists, but victors. These people don't need God to prove that He is holy, they just believe it. In the past, I met many Christians who suffered for their faith in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union, and later in the Middle East. They had a practical faith. Habakkuk also never doubted God's holiness.

But unfortunately, Christians who have it relatively easy, are less like this. They first want to see miracles, then believe. But the attitude should be: first believe and then miracles. In this way we build a stable faith regardless of our feelings and experience. How often we will pray louder and use a language that sounds pious, but that is not faith. Build your faith by hearing the Word. You can survive all circumstances because you know God and know that He does not make mistakes. In our visual culture we say "seeing is believing". That is the opposite reality. We look at what God is doing too much, but too little to who God is. We often sing "show me your power, O Lord". But a Christian ought to sing "show me who You are".

We would like to see God as our father, comforter, leader etc. 'God the Father will lead me well. He was my comforter in the past and will be in the future. He is my doctor, and the conflicts that have arisen in the past, He will solve.' But does God really do so? The question we ask sometimes is: what do I get? But we need to get rid of our ego-oriented selves and be reformed in our thinking. At times when we face difficulties, our Why should be converted to: Lord, what do You want to learn me? Our whole life is a school for the work in eternity.

It is one of the most difficult tasks for a Christian to keep believing if God does not act the way we want or expect. If we do not consider the possibility that God might want us to go a totally different way, we may be greatly disappointed. It is indeed not easy to believe on the one hand that God reigns over everything and to be confronted on the other with persecution and adversity. Nevertheless, God looks to the entire process we as humans go through as more important than the momentary situations we find ourselves, because through that process God is making us holy.

What do we do when God uses our "Chaldean" to correct us? Often it seems that God uses people we do not like. When we realise that God chastises us, we can accept problems more easily. Oswald Chambers writes in My Utmost for His Highest: "Yet God can never make us into wine if we object to the fingers He chooses to use to crush us. We say, 'If God would only use His own fingers, and make me broken bread and poured-out wine in a special way, then I wouldn't object!' But when He uses someone we dislike, or some set of circumstances to which we said we would never submit, to crush us, then we object."

We do not want the Chaldeans to press and chastise us but God knew more than Habakkuk. Habakkuk thought it was just a problem of political injustice, but the problem was that his people chose not to follow Him and did not want to be holy.

If we ask 'why' to God, we need to test every possible answer to these questions against God's Word. Sometimes we imagine an answer and go further in questions. We can be wrong in what we think to be God's answers, therefore it is so important to use God's Word alone as a touchstone. Many Christians base their assessment on their perception, but it is too limited or too subjective. Jeremiah (25:11-12) predicted that the Chaldeans would come so God would use them, so Habakkuk based his words on God's Word that he was not mistaken.

Before you can judge what is going on around you, you'll need to know God and His Word, otherwise you cannot test it. We must believe that God is holy and know that God uses everything, including the injustice (such as at the hands of the Chaldeans), to teach us who He is. Yes my friends, the Christian life is not easy!

Habakkuk stood on the watchtower, he was on the lookout. He did his research. If you stand there, you expect an answer. Sometimes we are not willing to hear God's answer. The first requirement is therefore that you are willing to hear God's voice and have a proactive attitude. That can be hampered if our spiritual education is too superficial. The church meetings are often too focused on consumption and nice feelings, and too little on depth and application, and then we are no longer on the lookout for wait for what God is saying. But even when it was difficult, it was not the external things that affected the life of Habakkuk. Habakkuk could be cheerful despite the circumstances, even when the fig tree did not blossom.

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