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Habakkuk: Doubting Faith, Absolute Trust

Habakkuk is a short, implacable, yet important piece of scripture. The prophet Habakkuk didn’t look at the wickedness around him and pray that God would intercede. He openly questioned God’s judgment:

“How long, Lord, must I call for help, but you do not listen? Or cry out to you, ‘Violence!’ but you do not save? Why do you make me look at injustice? Why do you tolerate wrongdoing?” (Habakkuk 1:2-3)

Rather than giving Habakkuk the desired response, God bluntly said he would cause things to get worse: “I am raising up the Babylonians, that ruthless and impetuous people…a law to themselves…guilty people whose own strength is their god.” (1:6-11)

Habakkuk tried again: “Why…do you tolerate the treacherous? Why are you silent while the wicked swallow up those more righteous than themselves?” (1:13)

This time, God responded that in due time, the wicked would be punished for their destruction and cruelty. Knowing this response might not satisfy the prophet any more than the first one, God spoke directly to Habakkuk: “The righteous person will live by his faith.” (2:4)

That’s it? Just suck it up, and trust God to eventually take care of it? Maybe the New Testament reinterprets Habakkuk like Jesus did with the Law. Nope. On three occasions, Habakkuk 2:4 is referenced with approval. (Romans 1:17; Galatians 3:11; Hebrews 10:38)

In the final chapter of Habakkuk, the prophet remembered previous times when God had saved Israel from its own wickedness and that of its oppressors. And he relented. His doubting faith was transformed into absolute trust in God.

“…I will wait patiently for the day of calamity to come on the nation invading us…I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.’ (Habakkuk 3:16, 18)

A doubting faith can be a good thing. It can lead to deeper communication with God — and, in time, absolute trust.

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