Lately, I’ve been asked multiple times about my favorite verse or passage from the Bible. My immediate response typically stuns the questioner – it is the entire book of Habakkuk. After assuring them that Habakkuk is indeed in the Bible, and not a Star Wars or Lord of the Rings character, I go on to explain that the book of Habakkuk is really an open letter to all who are suffering; to all who question God when life doesn’t seem fair.
By now you are familiar enough with our story to know Kendal and I had the same frustrations – “God, why can’t we get pregnant? Isn’t having a family a good thing?! How can those who seemingly don’t love, care, or want a child be blessed that way and we can’t? Why is the process taking so long?!” Maybe your circumstances haven’t revolved around infertility and adoption. Perhaps your struggle is with your career, finances, or health. If we are honest with ourselves, everyone, at some point in their lives, has felt as though life wasn’t fair and God wasn’t listening.
And that is where the book of Habakkuk comes in. As the story begins, this prophet observes his world and sees, due to the nation’s corrupt leaders, injustice, depravity, and violence. Habakkuk complains to God, “How long shall I cry for help, and you will not hear? Or cry to you ‘Violence!’ and you will not save? Why do you make me see iniquity, and why do you idly look at wrong?” In essence, Habakkuk is criticizing God, wondering why all of these unfair and evil things happen to good people – to God’s own people nonetheless! Sounds familiar, right?
God responds to Habakkuk’s complaints, telling him that He is aware of the injustice and destruction, and that He does, in fact, plan on doing something about it, but it isn’t quite what Habakkuk has in mind. God tells the prophet that He is raising up an enemy nation to come and invade the land. This shocks Habakkuk, as this situation is far worse than corrupt leaders and moral decline. The prophet goes so far as to accuse God of being inconsistent and unfair in raising up this enemy nation – “You who are of purer eyes than to see evil and cannot look to wrong, why do you idly look at traitors and remain silent when the wicked swallows up the man more righteous than he?” Habakkuk was looking for some relief, but God throws Habakkuk a curve ball he never expected. Still sounding familiar?
Habakkuk marvels at God’s plan and eventually consents that he has been duly silenced: “I will quietly wait for the day of trouble to come upon people who invade us.” Recognizing and trusting in God’s sovereignty, Habakkuk then offers one of the most beautiful statements of faithful submission anywhere in Scripture:
The book’s final line reads, “To the choirmaster: with stringed instruments.” Amazing! Habakkuk has received a glimpse of the glory of God, and despite the certain suffering that looms on the horizon and not fully understanding why God is doing the things He is, Habakkuk sings praises, knowing God will sustain him. What a progression – from protest to praise – “…yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will take joy in the God of my salvation. God, the Lord, is my strength!” While we don’t know what Habakkuk’s song sounded like, and though our “stringed instruments” probably sound different today, I think a modern interpretation is “Even If” by MercyMe, which you can listen to here.
We don’t know the end of Habakkuk’s story. The book doesn’t tell us about the invading army or what happens to the nation. Because that isn’t the point. The point of Habakkuk’s story isn’t on what happens to him, but rather, how he responds to God. Habakkuk teaches us that we have a choice; that “the righteous shall live by his faith.”
And so for me, while I wish I knew God’s timing regarding our adoption journey, I don’t. While I wish I knew why He has chosen us to go down this path and not through pregnancy, I don’t. While I wish I could take this burden away from our family, I can’t. Kendal and I have experienced highs and lows over the past few years, and even more specifically, the past couple of months. Though we recently received news that could prove to be an answer to our prayers, we also realize how quickly we could return to a period of waiting. So rather than complain or question God, I choose to follow the approach laid down by Habakkuk. While we earnestly long for a family and desperately want to have children to raise, even if my life doesn’t turn out as I want, even if our entire adoption journey fails, even if I never receive answers to my questions, “…yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation.”