Habakkuk: God really cares
After Habakkuk unloaded his five questions to God, Habakkuk did not stop to wait for God to reply. Why should he when all his previous prayers only solicited the silence of God? Therefore, Habakkuk continued his rant by giving God an update on what was happening on the earth.
As the evening news anchor, Habakkuk reported to God all the violence that he saw occurring on the earth: destruction, killings, violence, and conflict. Habakkuk complains that God does nothing. Habakkuk states that God observes it and remains idle, thus permitting wrongs to take place, evildoers to go unpunished, evil to grow, and justice to be perverted. God does not intervene. God does not save.
This type of praying is often referred to as prayers of complaint or lament (see Job 23:2; Psalm 55:2, 17).
In prayers of complaint or lament, our words are not necessarily a lack of faith; rather a turning of our hearts to God and pouring out our soul to God.
Confessing our negative thoughts, pain, and darker emotions is not an indication of unbelief, but an acknowledgment of our journey into a transformed faith (see David’s example in Psalm 142:1–2).
Through Habakkuk’s complaint and news reports, the prophet questions why God tolerates all the wrongdoings. Why does God merely sit idly by only watching? Does God not care?
Likewise, when we believe that God is silent in answering our prayers, we often conclude that he does not care. Admittedly, we think to ourselves, “God could merely snap his fingers and fix our situation, heal our sickness, restore our lives, or provide for our needs. Why is he idle? Why doesn’t he do something? Doesn’t God care?”
The Disciples and A Storm
After a long day of ministry, Jesus and his disciples climb into a boat to cross to the other side of the lake. However, Jesus, exhausted from all his teaching, healing, and casting out demons, decided to catch a quick nap during their trip and fell asleep at the stern of the boat on a cushion.
As Jesus was napping, a tremendous windstorm arose on the lake. The winds were so fierce that the waves were breaking into the boat, thus filling the small ship with water. Sensing immediate danger, the disciples woke Jesus up saying, “Save us Lord; we are perishing!” (Luke 8:25).
Jesus wakes up and rebukes the winds and speaks to the sea to calm. Next, Jesus turns to the disciples and ask them, “Why were you so afraid? Have you no faith?” (Mark 4:40).
Honestly, Jesus’ response has always bothered me a bit. Why were the disciples so afraid? Maybe it was because their boat was about to sink amid a huge storm and they might die. I have often wondered why Jesus seemed to rebuke them for their little faith and being fearful? Aren’t we suppose to cry out to Jesus when we need him (Ps 142:1)? Don’t we run to him in times of trouble (Psalms 37:39)?
This story is recorded in Matthew 8:23-27, Luke 8:22-25, and Mark 4:35-41. I guess I had mainly read the story from Matthew and Luke’s account. However, Mark’s recording of the story adds an interesting detail. Right after the disciples woke Jesus up from his nap and before asking him to save them, the disciples actually made another statement. The disciples woke Jesus and said, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” (Mark 4:38).
Did you catch that? The disciples were questioning if Jesus cared that they were about to die. Why did they struggle with the thought if Jesus cared for them? Because their ship was about to sink and they all would be fighting for their lives in the sea, and Jesus wasn’t doing anything. He wasn’t helping them. Jesus was asleep on them!
The disciples had equated the inactivity of God with the apathy of God.
Just as with Habakkuk, the twelve followers of Jesus did not see Jesus (God) doing anything about their troubles, suffering, and pain and therefore concluded that Jesus (God) must not care.
As I alluded to in my previous post, my dark night of the soul season led me to not only question if God was with me, but if God really cared about Craig. Some days, I was convinced he cared deeply; others days I struggled to believe he cared anything about me because of his apparent inactivity in my life. He wasn’t answering my cries for help. God continued to allow the pain of betrayal and loss to bear their full weight on my heart. God had not delivered me from my storms.
Pete Greig states, “If your deepest, most desperate prayers aren’t being answered, if life sometimes hurts so much that you secretly wonder whether God exists, and if He does whether He cares, and if He cares why on earth He doesn’t just do something to help, then you’re not alone.”
However, God in his infinite mercy and loyal love spoke afresh to me about the depth of his care for me through another story. While reading God on Mute, Pete Greig relates a story from C. S. Lewis’s The Magician’s Nephew.
In the book, a boy named Digory begs the Lion, Aslan, to give him something to make his dying mother well. “It’s a heart-rending request—a prayer of desperation—and yet, at the time, Aslan appears to ignore it completely: ‘He had been desperately hoping that the Lion would say “Yes”; he had been horribly afraid it might say “No.” But he was taken aback when it did neither.’ … But a little while later, Digory dares to ask Aslan for help again: ‘He thought of his Mother, and he thought of the great hopes he had, and how they were all dying away, and a lump came in his throat and tears in his eyes, and he blurted out: “But please, please won’t you—can’t you give me something that will cure Mother?” Up till then, he had been looking at the Lion’s great feet and the huge claws on them; now, in despair, he looked up at its face. What he saw surprised him as much as anything in his whole life. For the tawny face was bent down near his own and (wonder of wonders) great shining tears stood in the Lion’s eyes. They were such big, bright tears compared with Digory’s own that for a moment he felt as if the Lion must really be sorrier about his Mother than he was himself.’ Digory’s prayer remained unanswered, but everything had changed. Now, he knew that the great Lion—in whom all his hopes were resting—truly cared.”
Every one of us has approached God with a heavy heart for ourselves or someone we deeply love. We have pleaded and even begged God to intervene, yet God remained silent. If we keep our heads buried in our pain, anger, disappointment, or shame and only look to the “feet” of Jesus, we may very well conclude that God must not care. However, when we allow Jesus to be “the lifter” of our heads (Psalms 3:3) and gaze upon his face, we will undoubtedly discover the depths of his love, concern, and that he truly cares.