Is it right to question God? For most of my life I have heard well-meaning, good-hearted Christians answer this question with an emphatic No! But in actual experience we all know that there are moments in lives when circumstances cause us to question what God is doing. Habakkuk is a biblical example of the benefit that questioning God has for our spiritual life. Rather than settling for trite, simplistic theological answers, Habakkuk dares to ask God some hard questions and in the process develops a far more glorious vision of what God is like. I would like to suggest that hard questions can serve the same function in the life of every believer.
Habakkuk wrote during a time when the nation of Judah was experiencing a time of great economic prosperity but was spiritually bankrupt. As he looked at the injustice and wickedness rampant in the nation, his heart became incensed at God’s apparent lack of interest. Habakkuk decides to take the issue to God and to find out some answers, so in 1:1-2 he asks, “O Lord, how long shall I cry for help, and you will not hear? Or cry to you ‘Violence!’ and you will not save? Why do you make me see iniquity, and why do you idly look at wrong?” This is an honest question and one that every generation of believers is forced to ask as we look at the violence, unrighteousness, and injustice that goes on all around us.
God’s answer in 1:5—11 came as a complete surprise to Habakkuk. Essentially, God announced that he was raising up the Babylonians to serve as his instrument of punishment against Judah. This was not at all good news to Habakkuk and causes him to ask another question in 1:12—13. In these verses, Habakkuk raises the question of God’s justice, “How can you use the unrighteous to judge the righteous?” He then goes on throughout the remainder of chapter 2 describing the violence of the Babylonians. What we have here is the classic case of asking a question and then being disturbed by the answer. Habakkuk wants God to deal with the sins of Judah but never imagined that it would involve being conquered by the Babylonians. So in 2:1 the prophets says, “I will take my stand at my watch post and station myself on the tower, and look out to see what he say to me, and what I will answer concerning my complaint.”
In chapter 2 we have one of the most important statements made in all the Bible, “Behold, his soul is puffed up; it is not upright within him, but the righteous shall live by his faith.” (2:4) This verse would be used later by the Apostle Paul to describe the essence of our response to the gospel. In Habakkuk’s day God was reminding the prophet and the people to keep on trusting that He was in control, even when some would question whether He was.
This brings me to the point that I want to make. Some of the people in Judah questioned God out of unbelief while others were driven by their faith to question God. That might seem like a play on words but in reality it is a difference of eternal significance. Those who question God out of unbelief only deepen their situation and harden their hearts even further. But when genuine believers question God out of a deep, abiding faith, they experience spiritual growth. The difference is in the starting point.
Habakkuk never questions whether God exists or whether He is good. Habakkuk starts off with a firm belief in God and a basic understanding of His nature. But in his humanity, Habakkuk recognized that he struggled with understanding the ways of God. He needs to grow, so he humbly asks God for a deeper revelation of His nature. In other words, Habakkuk began his questions from a point of faith and as a result received a further revelation of God’s nature.
As believers, we can grow in our understanding of God by faithfully taking our questions to Him in prayer and submitting ourselves to the authority of God’s Word. As we read, study and meditate upon the Word of God, He will provide us with a deeper understanding of His nature, character and ways.So if you are a believer, I want to encourage you to question God. Some of our questions He will answer, some He will not, but either way we will grow. But the starting point always must be faith.