Earlier this week I taught Sunday School at my church in Dallas while only 4 hours away a gunman entered another church. Twenty-six people lost their lives—8 of whom came from the same family.
In moments like these, we grieve and lament with our brothers and sisters in Christ. Many of us grapple with intense questions over why this happened.
Habakkuk shows us what it’s like to wrestle with God over difficult questions and how to express our sorrow in worshipful lament.
Our English language defines the verb lament as “expressing sorrow, regret, or unhappiness about something.” The Old Testament contains several laments expressing sorrow to God, but these laments were more than complaint driven words.
Commentator David L. Petersen aptly points out, “In a lament, a worshipper would routinely affirm confidence in God who is a reliable source of help.”
Worshippers took their complaints to God with confidence knowing that he was their source of help; he was the one with the answers.
Habakkuk gives an example of worshipping the Lord through lament. The prophet faced perplexing questions about how God could allow so much injustice to continue all around him and directed his complaint toward God (1:2–4). God’s response perplexed him all the more and he directed complaints toward God a second time (1:12–2:1).
It’s the final part of his second complaint that especially stands out, “I will stand on my guard post and station myself on the rampart; and I will keep watch to see what He will speak to me and how I may reply when I am reproved” (NASB, emphasis added).
Habakkuk realizes that he doesn’t have the answers to life’s perplexing questions and goes to the one who does. He has a sense that his own outlook or viewpoint needs correcting, and so purposefully waits for God to answer.
Waiting on God often means experiencing hard and laborious moments mingled with pain and sorrow. It also reveals something profound—the trust of the worshipper. Waiting is an expression of our trust in God and our ability to trust him even when we don’t know the answers.
Sometimes, it is realizing the answer might not be what we want to hear. But you know something, it’s more dangerous to go through life thinking we have all the answers than to go through life wrestling with unanswerable questions.
In one of my seminary classes, professor John Hannah told us, “If you think you have all the answers (in your belief system), you are not asking enough questions.”
What questions or complaints do we need to take to God today? And, in what area of our lives do we need to wait on God’s correction?
Perhaps you’re not wrestling with questions this week, but maybe you know someone filled to the brim with perplexing questions. Listen to them and offer encouragement.
For Further Reading:
- Responding to Unbelievers' Questions About Injustice in our World
- How to Deal with Questions in Evangelism
 David L. Petersen, The Prophetic Literature: An Introduction (Louisville: West Minster John Knox Press, 2002), 201.