No one likes to wait. But our lives are full of waiting: waiting for the light to turn green, waiting in the check out line, waiting for the weekend. Anytime we do have to wait, instead of actively engaging in the waiting, we just pull out our phone and distract ourselves.
But beyond those frivolous things, we wait for heavy things too. Waiting for the right spouse, waiting for the right job, waiting for our child to be healed, waiting for a friend to come to faith. We wait for all that we think is missing in our lives and all that we hope God will do.
The book of Habakkuk is all about what it means to wait in faith. Habakkuk lived during a time when people turned away from God. Idolatry, oppression, corruption, and injustice were running rampant. The book records him complaining and pleading with God.
Habakkuk: “God, do something about this tragic state of affairs!”
God: “Yes, I know, I’m planning to send in the Chaldeans, a wicked nation, to bring judgment on my people.”
Habakkuk: “What’s that now? That is not a good plan!”
God: “You just have to trust me and wait. I am good and I am reigning. These Chaldeans will eventually be brought to justice as well, and then I will restore my people. You need to wait – wait in faith as my plan unfolds.”
In Habakkuk 2:3 God says, “For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end – it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay.” He is asking Habakkuk to trust him, to trust his plan and wait. The next verse says that the righteous live by faith. See, Habakkuk doesn’t start out in faith. Initially he’s frustrated, confused, and discouraged. He has to learn to trust God and wait in faith. We need to learn this too.
Habakkuk hears more about the invading nation and the hard path that his people will face, but he also comes to understand that God is reigning. He may not like what lies ahead, but he has learned to trust God and wait on him no matter what. Listen to Habakkuk’s heart at the end of the book.
“Yet I will quietly wait for the day of trouble to come upon people who invade us. Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. GOD, the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like the deer’s; he makes me tread on my high places” (Habakkuk 3:17-19).
What Habakkuk describes is a picture of total devastation. The land is ruined. There is nothing to eat and no way to earn a living. There is nothing in his external circumstances to give him comfort or hope. And yet he waits, even rejoices in God!
Can we wait like this? Can we rejoice in who God is and his triumph, even when life is painful and empty? Even if my pantry is empty and my car is broken down…even if there are rumors of layoffs and my bank account is running dry…yet I will wait quietly for the Lord!
Even if the house is a mess and the schedule is in chaos…even if I feel like an outsider at school and the coach won’t play me…even if the kids are sick and the CAT scan comes back with bad news…even if my marriage is difficult and the kids are drifting away…yet I will rejoice in the LORD! I will take joy in the God of my salvation!
God give us grace to stand in faith like this! “If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay.”
Listen to a recent sermon series on this topic: Waiting in Faith