Habakkuk sees it coming. Israel has already fallen and destruction is closing in on Judah. Why would God let a godless nation run roughshod over God’s chosen people, even if they have been disobedient? As the book of Habakkuk begins, this is the question he wants answered.
What we experience over the next few pages is the kind of wrestling sometimes required for a person to move from doubt and discouragement to trust and hope. Habakkuk feels no need to conceal from God his true feelings, nor does he shy away from asking the uncomfortable questions on his mind. God welcomes his concerns, and in response reassures Habakkuk that there is a better future ahead, which can only be viewed by looking beyond current circumstances. It is in the honesty of the dialogue that we get a picture of healthy faith formation.
Sadly, the church often fails to model the character of God in this regard. Rather than welcoming and embracing questions that spring from doubts normal and natural to the human experience, religious leaders and teachers often squirm at the uncomfortable questions. They squelch the voices that are hungry for answers, calling instead on the ones that act like they already have all the answers memorized. Yet, the conclusion of this book suggests that it just might be those who are allowed to work their way through the hard questions that end up at a place of profound faith. In the end, even though the immediate landscape looks pretty awful, Habakkuk sings praise to the God whose work is not finished yet:
“Counting on God’s rule to prevail, I take heart and gain strength.” (3:18-19)