Habakkuk: the questioning prophet

Habakkuk: the questioning prophet

Why do you make me look at injustice? Why do you tolerate wrong? (Habakkuk 1:3).

My father has been confined to hospital for over 7 months, and unless something miraculous occurs, he won’t be coming out.

He suffers from dementia, a progressive, degenerative disease of the brain. And it can be fatal.

But the saddest dimension for our family, is that the lights of Dad’s personality and character are slowly, incrementally, brutally being extinguished. 

Every day is different: today he was incoherent when he spoke, unable to feed himself, and increasingly frustrated that he was confined – as he has been for months for his own safety – by seatbelt to his wheelchair. 

Our struggles with Dad’s disease date back to long before he entered hospital; but the recent months have compounded the anguish for those of us who love and value him. 

The grim reality of our era is that the “obvious” solution is to request the termination of his life via Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD). It seems somehow irrationally incongruent to make this demand of the doctors who have provided healthcare for my parents dating back 20 or more years.

My sisters and I hold that Dad’s days are numbered only by his Lord. 

Recognizing the providential hand of God in sovereign authority over all things, King David proclaimed, All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be (Psalm 139:16).

Consequently, Dad’s life will end at a day of God’s choosing. And Dad will retain dignity – at least in our estimation – until the end because he is created in God’s image.

Until that termination point, we vigorously hold that God doesn’t waste pain in the lives of His children – that there is always some redemptive value in suffering. 

That although we don’t know what the purpose is, we are convinced there is a reason.

And that purpose is plainly not for any benefit to Dad, but to us who remain. Probably primarily for me.

That’s why the ancient Hebrew prophet Habakkuk has become my friend.

The prophet with the strange name lived 600 years before Christ. Although not confirmed by the biblical record, one rabbinic tradition identifies him as the boy revived by Elisha in 2 Kings 4, the son of the Shunammite woman.

Habakkuk is my ally in that he had the audacity to question God.

He demanded to know WHY?

His issues were different from mine and as a result, so were his precise questions.

Why do you make me look at injustice? Why do you tolerate wrong? Destruction and violence are before me; there is strife, and conflict abounds (Habakkuk 1:3).

Most prophets spoke to the people declaring God’s message.

But Habakkuk talked to God about the people, questioning why God allowed what appeared to be unchecked moral degeneration.

How long, O LORD, must I call for help, but you do not listen? Or cry out

to you, "Violence!" but you do not save? (Habakkuk 1:2).

But more generally, Habakkuk insisted to know whether the Lord takes notice of what is going on. And if so, WHY doesn’t He intervene.

Other prophets warned about divine judgement; Habakkuk pleaded for divine judgement to come.

At least he did until the Lord revealed how – and by whom – that divine retribution would be enacted.

Look at the nations and watch—and be utterly amazed. For I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe, even if you were told (Habakkuk 1:5).

And then Habakkuk objected again.

At least until he realized that God was God, and Habakkuk was not.

Takeaway: Habakkuk’s learning through his experience has become my intellectual resting place. The reasons for our complaints and queries are different, but the resolution is the same:

a)   God is never threatened by my questions. He, of course, doesn’t need to answer to me or anyone. He remains now and always maximally, transcendently sovereign.

b)   He has justifiable reasons for His action or what appears to be His temporary inaction. His plan is firm, His knowledge is complete, His power is unlimited.

c)    And the New Testament promise reinforces that, even though I don’t know what it is, there is a purpose, a reason, a design for what is occurring under God’s sovereign hand.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28).


~ pic by dynamic_graphics on freeimages.com 

About Us

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. - Galatians 3:28 The community at Bethel includes a wide range of ages and backgrounds. Young and old, families and singles, English-speakers and those with a French mother-tongue, various ethnic and religious backgrounds. We reflect the make up of the city of North Bay. More importantly though, we are a group of people who Jesus has saved through his work on the cross. By God's plan of redemption we were all brought into one family as brothers and sisters in Christ, given a mission to reach into our world and make disciples for Him. We hope you will find at Bethel a friendly, loving group of people striving to live for Jesus Christ. Whether you are visiting for the day or trying to find a permanent church home, you are welcome to join us as we together seek out Him.