Our garden’s no Eden. Battered, broken. Ruled by evil, hatred, greed, judgement. Sin runs rampant, the power-high sit enthroned, the power-hungry eat their fill. Like it or not, this is home. Home to the ungratefuls, the unsatisfied, the violent, the self-righteous, the disobedient, the forgetful, the faithless, the runaways. Wild newspaper headlines, scandals left and right, our political state in shambles—this beat-up world is crying out loud. It’s like one big lightbulb went off and we all realized what’s always been the case: our world is decaying by the minute.
But halfway through the good book, there’s a story much like our own. Habakkuk just gets it–He too calls home a world he isn’t proud of. He’s sick of bearing bad news and telling it from his mountain. He’s marked the good news guy but he can’t seem to find it. He’s stuck defending a God who doesn’t seem so good these days, One who seems invisible and inactive. He’s wrestling: Where is the Lord in all this? Does He see? Does He notice? If so, does He care? If so, won’t He do something already? How long, Lord, must I call for help, but You do not listen? Or cry out to you, though You do not save? Why do You make me look at injustice? Why do You tolerate wrongdoing? (Habakkuk 1:2-3) Sound familiar? We’re all there.
Habakkuk’s story is short and actionless, just a few pages with no forward movement. Yet it was by no accident marked significant enough to fit into God’s timeless Word. His story’s for us! “This account of wrestling with God is not just a fragment from a private journal that has somehow entered the public domain. It was composed for Israel. It represents the voice of the godly in Judah, struggling to comprehend the mystery ways of God.” For those of us who know Truth, whose hearts break with holy discontent, who crave heaven already and would prefer it to this mess: Habakkuk’s story says “I’ve been there. Keep at it. Don’t quit.” It’s an invitation for the good-news tribe to keep on telling it.
Habakkuk’s initial reaction to a sin-struck world is like anyone’s: he questions, rants, rambles on and on, looks left and right and all over. But he’s different! Here’s where He stands out: Habakkuk means the one who clings, and he does just that. Where and when our generation buckles or blames a God we can’t quite figure out, Habakkuk looks Up and holds tight to His mystery hand. Ravished by a holy confidence, He starts to trust Him again. He bows low before the Father on behalf of his broken, crying-out-loud world. He dares the Lord to make His move around here, then runs to the watchtower expectant He will.
I will stand at my watch and station myself at the ramparts. I will look to see what He will say to me, and what answer I am to give to this complaint…Lord, I have heard of Your fame; I stand in awe of Your deeds. Revive Your work—will You do it again?—and in our time make it known. In wrath, will You remember mercy, compassion, Love? / Habakkuk 2:1, 3:1
Here’s what we don’t need: We don’t need a king or a quick fix. We don’t need any more cynical Facebook posts, no more fist-shakers or noise-makers or defamers. Call me crazy, but we don’t even need a president or political state we’re proud of. A messed-up world set to decay needs the Lord, and the Lord alone.
But the few who know Him, trust Him, love Him, are called by Him and consider Him the Ultimate Authority? We’ve got a job to do. We’ve got to stack hands with each other. To circle up and talk life and Jesus and politics and highs and lows and the glory that’s on its way. To be wrestlers—not okay with evil or sin or violence—who take our questions to the One with the answers. To speak up, to not shy away. To let our hearts break for the right things, the things that break the Lord’s heart too. To be cross-bearers, to endure the suffering in our almost-home, en route to the someday Glory. To be big dreamers and bold prayers who beg an able God to do a fixing-up only He can. To be Light-seekers though the tunnel is all we know. To look different! To stand out in the way we speak, trust, pray, dream, preach, vote, expect, move. To swear by the Good News. To be movers and shakers, Truth-tellers and Life-speakers, watchtower-climbers and horizon-scanners.
We’re the Lord’s party and we’ve got cling tight to Him. Our guy’s up to something–it’s time we take our place at the lookout! Race ya to the watchtower.
Though the fig tree does not blossom and there is no fruit on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in my Lord. The Lord is my strength, my personal bravery. He makes my feet steady and sure like hinds feet on high places / Habakkuk 3:17-19