Learning to Lament on That Day Part 1: A Study in Habakkuk

Learning to Lament on That Day Part 1: A Study in Habakkuk

At some point, everyone experiences a day unlike any other day. That day is the day that someone or something bigger than you is in the process of defeating you. Fear races in as hope runs away.

On that day, the doctor may say that there is nothing more that can be done to treat the cancer; the lawyer may say that the divorce is finalized; the nurse might say that your loved one’s earthly life has come to an end. When that day comes, it’s easy to get frustrated with God, but you can also bring your frustrations to God, just as an ancient believer named Habakkuk did in his tear-stained journal. He lets us join him in the middle of his own crisis of faith in not knowing what the future might hold for him.

We know little to nothing about Habakkuk; his family and history are a mystery. In Hebrew, his name means embrace, which is fitting since he embraced God’s will. In Akadian, his name is a bit more obscure and refers to a plant or fruit tree.

Habakkuk begins by reporting “The oracle that Habakkuk the prophet saw” (Habakkuk 1:1). The concept here is that he is by faith carrying a great burden to God in hopes of finding hope and comfort. God’s response was to meet with Habakkuk and reveal to him some of what the future would hold amidst his fears. This somehow happened through a vision, or dream, where the recipient is awake. Perhaps it was a bit like watching a screen more than 2,500 years ago, or even like today’s virtual reality.

In this book, which you can read in about 10 to 15 minutes, there are four main characters. First, there is God. Second, there is the godly man Habakkuk along with a few righteous believers. Third, there are rebellious and ungodly “believers” who may or not belong to God but associate with His people nonetheless. Their sins are so significant that in addition to Habakkuk, God raised up other prophets – Nahum, Zephaniah, and Jeremiah– in the same season to preach repentance. While priests were often raised in religious homes and educated in religious schools, prophets were wild men often raised in the woods and working from the margins of society, as God’s fire alarm, calling people to run from sin and hell. The fourth and final characters are the ruthless, heartless, and godless enemies of God and His people.

Rather than getting frustrated with God, the prophet Habakkuk takes his frustrations to God. With the “good” guys acting as wickedly as the “bad” guys – and nothing but financial, moral, political, and spiritual death on the horizon – he brought his frustrations, fears, and faith God.

What are you frustrated about or fearful of right now? Have you earnestly brought those frustrations to God as Habakkuk did? How could this happen?

Mark Driscoll
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