“Though the fig tree may not blossom,
Nor fruit be on the vines;
Though the labor of the olive may fail,
And the fields yield no food;
Though the flock may be cut off from the fold,
And there be no herd in the stalls—
Yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
I will joy in the God of my salvation.” (Habakkuk 3:17-18, NKJV)
Habakkuk was concerned about the prevalence of injustice in his nation, the kingdom of Judah–God’s chosen people. Habakkuk wondered why God allowed injustice to proliferate among His people: “Therefore the law is powerless and justice never goes forth. For the wicked surround the righteous; therefore perverse judgment proceeds” (vs. 1:4).
God responded that He was, in fact, planning to do something about the injustice in the land by sending the Babylonians to invade Judah and take its people into captivity.
Habakkuk probably had something less calamitous in mind than the downfall of his country when he addressed God about injustice in Judah. So, Habakkuk asked God why He would use the wicked (Babylonians) to punish the righteous (Judahites)? “Why do You look on those who deal treacherously, and hold Your tongue when the wicked devours a person more righteous than he?” (vs. 1:13).
God replied: “The just shall live by his faith!” (vs. 2:4). In other words, there was no entitlement for being God’s people. Nobody had an inherent claim to God’s name. God’s chosen people were those whom He justified–those who chose to believe in Him and His Mercy and live accordingly!
Although Habakkuk questioned the the ethics of using evil people to punish good people for their sin, Habakkuk realized that God’s purpose was not to reward the Babylonians but to restore His people: “You marched through the land in indignation; You trampled the nations in anger. You went forth for the salvation of Your people, for salvation with Your Anointed” (vs. 3:12-13, NKJV).
Regardless of the impending Babylonian invasion, Habakkuk completely trusted in God’s sovereign will. Habakkuk eloquently expressed his faith by proclaiming that no matter what happens, no matter how bad things get, he would remain faithful to God.
Faithfulness is the place you go when you have run out of options and you have to trust completely in God. Faithfulness is the consequence of total surrender; it’s the destination of desperate people (you should also read The Road from Faith to Faithfulness, Part 1 and Part 2).
Like Habakkuk, we pray for happy endings to our stories. We pray happily-ever-after prayers for God to give us fairy tale endings to our problems and the problems of this world.
But, God’s answer to our pleas and prayers is always that which draws us closer to Him, restores us to His will, and/or empowers us to accomplish His plans and purposes through our lives.
While God resolved the problem of injustice among the Jewish people with the Babylonian invasion of Judah, God’s answer to Habakkuk’s prayers was to lead him from faith to faithfulness.
Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. (Romans 5:1-2, NKJV)