I live in a small rural community where people often burn brush, trash, and other debris that they do not want to take the time to dispose of. It is common in the summer and fall to drive past houses where dark clouds of smoke are billowing from the back...
His heart pounded, his lips quivered, decay crept into his bones, and his legs trembled (Habakkuk 3:16). He was confused, angry, terrified, and desperate for relief. He cried, “O Lord, how long shall I cry for help, and you will not hear?” (Habakkuk 1:2). Habakkuk, an Old Testament prophet, experienced a season of trials that seemed endless. He was desperate for relief, for change, for God to intervene. Does that sound like something you can relate to?
I too recently felt like Habakkuk. The weight of grief, depression, and anxiety consumed me to the point where my heart pounded, my lips quivered, my legs trembled, and it felt like decay crept into my bones. My heart and flesh screamed for relief—and in my desperation, I found myself tempted to stray from the truth of God’s Word. I desired comfort above all else, but was called to rely on the Lord in my season of desperation.
When you and I feel like there is “no hope for a harvest” (Habakkuk 3:17), when desperation distracts us from God’s truth, and when our faith is shaken, what do we do? We can learn from sufferers like Habakkuk to:
1. Rely on God by faith
Every believer in Jesus Christ is called to a life of faith (Galatians 2:20). Faith beckons us to rejoice in the Lord and be joyful in God our Savior (Hab. 3:18). When we love and are joyful through trials, it is the ultimate demonstration of true faith. Christian faith doesn’t rest on what is seen and what is temporary—it relies on the all-sufficiency of Christ (2 Corinthians 4:18).
In many seasons of desperation, it’s often challenging to rejoice in faith. When we feel spiritually dry and cannot pray as we ought, we can rely on God through the Holy Spirit. The Father sent us the Holy Spirit in Jesus’ name, One who helps us in our weakness by interceding for us with groanings too deep for words (Romans 8:26). We can rely on him to convict, guide, help, and comfort us in and out of trials (John 14:26; Isaiah 11:2; John 16:7:15). The Spirit gives us freedom (2 Corinthians 3:17) and enables us to abound in hope (Romans 15:13).
2. Be Honest with God
Habakkuk was far from denial regarding his situation. Through his knowledge of the Father’s character, he fueled honest prayers. He expressed himself passionately, honestly, asking “Why are you silent?” (1:13) and “Why do you tolerate wrong?” (1:3). Our Savior Jesus modeled this numerous times in his earthly walk, where it’s recorded that he prayed all night to God (Luke 6:12). We also see Christ’s honesty about his circumstances in Matthew 26, where three times he asks the Father to take the cup of suffering away from him (vv. 39, 42, 44).
We have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ and have been justified by faith (Romans 5:1). Therefore, we can freely approach him in honest prayer and with faith-filled hearts. By drawing near to and seeking him in humble prayer, we will receive a heavenly reward (Hebrews 11:6). And because our heavenly Father knows our deepest thoughts (Psalm 139:4), it is to our spiritual benefit to communicate with him honestly. Yet, we must rely on his grace, not his response.
3. Rely on God’s grace
We have a warm invitation from the Creator of the universe to approach his throne of grace to find mercy in our time of need (Hebrews 4:16). By faith, we acknowledge that God is not obligated to respond to our questions or cries—but we rely on the gift of his justifying grace to us through Christ (Romans 3:24). On this side of heaven, we may never comprehend why God acts or withholds in our lives—but we can rest in the truth that his grace is sufficient for us (2 Corinthians 12:9).
James exhorts us:
But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, ‘God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.’ Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you. (James 4:6-10)
4. Rely on God’s Power in Christ
When you face trials, remember God’s power and love displayed through his Son Jesus (John 3:16). Christ demonstrated and fulfilled his mission to live a sinless life (1 Peter 2:22), yet we see that he also desired relief (Luke 22:42) and felt the Father’s silence (Matthew 27:46). Through his obedience and painful suffering, Christ canceled our debts through his perfect sacrifice. The marvelous truth is that pain and death were not the end for Jesus Christ—and they are not the end for you. Our all-powerful Messiah defeated death and rose to life and glory, where all who believe in him will be also.
We can rely on Christ’s power, which has been perfected in our weaknesses and rests upon us (2 Corinthians 12:9). Christ’s power can be more clearly demonstrated through our weaknesses when we submit to his plans. He is willing and able to accomplish even greater things than we could ever do in our own strength. Like Paul, we can say, “For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:10).
Trusting in God’s Perfect Timing
Remember, the Lord was not ignoring Habakkuk’s or Jesus’ prayers, and he does not disregard ours either. His silence is not equal to a lack of care; he works behind the scenes, where together all things work for the good of those who love him (Romans 8:28). By faith, we must trust in his timing. God responds to Habakkuk’s complaints by promising, “Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay” (2:3). And in time, we will stand in awe at what he has done (Habakkuk 3:2).
Though the fig tree does not bud
and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
and no cattle in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
I will be joyful in God my Savior.
The Sovereign Lord is my strength;
he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
he enables me to tread on the heights. (Habakkuk 3:17-19, NIV)