Listen to this sermon.
Have you ever played the game Frustration? (There is a more popular version of the game called Trouble.) Frustration can be a frustrating game. In order to move your pieces out of the start position, you need to “pop” a one or a two. Sometimes you can pop the dice over and over again and never get a one or a two. Meanwhile, everyone else’s pieces are quickly moving around the board. In frustration you cry out, “How much longer until I get a one or a two!” Then sometimes when you finally do get a one or a two, another player’s piece lands on yours sending you back to start. And you complain, “That’s not fair!”
Habakkuk the prophet was a man filled with frustration. In the first two chapters of Habakkuk, the prophet brings two complaints to God (1:2-4; 1:12-2:1). Each time, God answers Habakkuk’s complaint (1:5-11; 2:2-20).
- Habakkuk’s first complaint: How much longer? O LORD, how long shall I cry for help, and you will not hear? Or cry to you “Violence!” and you will not save? (1:2).
- God’s answer: Trust me. I am working on a plan you can neither see nor understand. “I am doing a work in your days that you would not believe if told” (1:5b).
- Habakkuk’s second complaint: That’s not fair! You who are of purer eyes than to see evil and cannot look at wrong, why do you idly look at traitors and remain silent when the wicked swallows up the man more righteous than he? (1:13).
- God’s answer: Trust me. I know what I’m doing. “But the LORD is in his holy temple; let all the earth keep silence before him” (2:20).
Habakkuk’s complaints are childish complaints. Children often complain to their parents: “How much longer?” and “That’s not fair!” But good parents usually know best. And certainly God our Father knows best. We need to trust Him.
The righteous shall live by his faith (2:4).
These words are “quoted in the NT to emphasize that people are saved by grace through faith (Rom. 1:17; Gal. 3:11; cf. Eph. 2:8) and that Christians should live by faith (Heb. 10:38-39). The kind of faith that Habakkuk describes, and the NT authors promote, is continuing trust in God and clinging to God’s promises, even in the darkest days” (ESV Study Bible, p. 1724).
In the third chapter of Habakkuk, the prophet offers a prayer of faith to God. How can I trust God even in the darkest days? Remember three facts about God:
1. God is amazing.
O LORD, I have heard the report of you, and your work, O Lord, do I fear (3:2a).
2. God never changes.
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 stall, yet I will rejoice in the LORD; I will take joy in the God of my salvation (3:17-18).
3. God gives strength.
God, the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like the deer’s; he makes me tread on my high places (3:19).
Sometimes when I play a game like Frustrated, I can get quite frustrated. I like to win. But sometimes while playing a game I remind myself, “Who really cares if I win or lose? It’s just a board game!” I often need a change of perspective. Spending time with family and friends is more important that winning a game.
Habakkuk was a man who went from frustration to faith. What caused this change? His circumstances had not changed. And he says that even if his circumstances get worse, he still will rejoice in the Lord. What happened? Habakkuk stopped focusing on his frustration and started worshiping God. When God is worshiped, perspectives change and people change. Trust Him.