Spent some time with a wrestler this morning.
(Calm down, crazies. I did not hang out with Triple H. Probably lots of you don’t know who that is. I’m not sure my target demographic on this blog are RAW fans. But you all should be. You should be.)
I spent some quality time with Habakkuk.
Habakkuk was a guy who woke up to a world that baffled him. When he looked around, it didn’t seem like God was being who He said He was. The people of God were tearing themselves apart with sin and disregard for His Word. The enemy appears to be ruling and winning the day. Habakkuk is calling out to God but nothing seems to be happening. He hears the promises of God – to persevere His people – but everything he sees seems to be contradicting them.
I hear all that. I’m not sure that my friend who found her father dead last week month feels like ‘death has lost its sting’. I’m not sure my friend who became a widow feels the truth that ‘our Maker is our husband.’ I am anxious about work, and no matter how many times I make my requests known to God, I can’t seem to get that pesky ‘peace that transcends understanding’ to resonate in my heart.
I think we can all agree: sometimes the world looks as if it’s making a liar out of God.
The book of Habakkuk explains how that happens and why that happens. It reminds us that God is on His throne and is working things in accordance with His promises and is making all things new. Plus, it provides us with a picture of what it looks like to wrestle with God in faith. Meet Habakkuk, the wrestler. We see him come to God with challenge and confusion.
We see him ‘complain’:
O LORD, how long shall I cry for help, and you will not hear? Or cry to you “Violence!” and you will not save? Why do you make me see iniquity, and why do you idly look at wrong? Destruction and violence are before me; strife and contention arise. So the law is paralyzed, and justice never goes forth. For the wicked surround the righteous; so justice goes forth perverted. (Habakkuk 1:2-4 ESV)
Dig that text apart and you will find yourself face to face with the sharp point of the sword of the Word of God. Press in and you will find your soul being separated from flesh.
If you’re like me – you’ll find yourself called to repent of what you have named ‘faith.’ If I actually believe God, it won’t play out simply as an acceptance of the brokenness of this world. Acceptance will always be colored with a fervent expectation and plea for God to move.
Habakkuk is ‘complaining’ because he’s confused with the world as he sees it. Not because he doesn’t trust God – but because he DOES trust God. Habakkuk believes the things God says. He believes that God answers His people. He believes that God perseveres His people. He believes that God does not tolerate the trampling of His name.
He believes those things so absolutely that he refuses to just ‘accept’ the situation of his people. He is expectant, almost demanding that God’s kingdom would come; His will be done – on earth as it is in Heaven.
God forgive me. I have confused apathetic indifference with faith. I have confused a numb expectation of a broken world with faith.
I wake up most days with no expectation of God. I am honestly, and devastatingly, shocked when He shows up.
Truth: I have resigned myself to expect injustice to reign in this life. I guess I expect evil to win today. My throat is empty of cries to God because I’m not honestly sure I expect Him to respond.
I’ve accepted the sin in and around me – even though it’s woefully out of line with the revealed will of God – and I’ve called that contentment. I’ve stopped believing that God will act as He says He will, and I’ve called that faith.
Here’s the deal: discontentment is NOT godly. God challenges and transforms Habakkuk throughout the book. Habakkuk’s wrestling is a means to an end, not the end itself. He learns promises that must be trusted as well. Promises like: even when you don’t see it – I am winning, working and restoring. Trusting those promises will produce in me a deep contentment with circumstance.
But true faith will always be known by two simultaneous symptoms: (1) a deep contentment sourced in the belief that God is ruling and working even when we don’t see it and (2) a Holy dissatisfaction that we share with the perfected saints above: a begging and pleading and longing for more of God’s glory to rule and reign today.
If it lacks the first ingredient, it is likely infected with discontentment and selfish ambition – a product of unbelief. If it lacks the second, it is likely infected with apathy and indifference – a product of unbelief.
May God make us faithful people who both wrestle and rest by the power of His promises.