Because of Habakkuk’s close relationship with God, he, – with voice raised, brow furrowed, and hands thrown up in frustration – just unloads his grief to God. God answers, but His response isn’t exactly what Habakkuk was expecting. There would be more suffering before relief, which we see in Habakkuk 1:5–11 (ESV):
“Look among the nations, and see; wonder and be astounded. For I am doing a work in your days that you would not believe if told. For behold, I am raising up the Chaldeans, that bitter and hasty nation, who march through the breadth of the earth, to seize dwellings not their own. They are dreaded and fearsome; their justice and dignity go forth from themselves. Their horses are swifter than leopards, more fierce than the evening wolves; their horsemen press proudly on. Their horsemen come from afar; they fly like an eagle swift to devour. They all come for violence, all their faces forward. They gather captives like sand. At kings they scoff, and at rulers they laugh. They laugh at every fortress, for they pile up earth and take it. Then they sweep by like the wind and go on, guilty men, whose own might is their god!”
Sometimes, we just wish God would tell us what He was doing. He did just that to Habakkuk, but things only got worse, not better. God’s plan was to use the most ungodly, powerful, ruthless, cruel, and unjust military power as a wooden spoon to discipline those who were supposed to be His people. Essentially, being oppressed by a demonic army sent directly from the bowels of hell to unleash fire on the earth, things were about to go from bad to very bad for Habakkuk and his nation.
Counselors often talk about something called complex grief. Complex grief is what happens when difficult experiences pile on top of one another, becoming an overwhelming deluge so quickly that you do not have time to process anything. That is the kind of thing Habakkuk is experiencing. Overcoming the situation will require tremendous faith that God is good, in charge, and knows what He’s doing. This is precisely what faith is: moving forward in the dark trusting that God is ahead somewhere.
How has God proven faithful to you in past circumstances that felt overwhelming to you? What in your life currently requires a new level of faith to trust God?