Embracing God In The Wilderness 

“Embracing God in the wilderness is wrestling through hard things, difficult questions, and unanswered prayers.”

Dearest Reader, 

My Sweet Man and I reached the minor prophets several weeks ago. When you make it to this part of the Sacred Word, the pages turn fast and leave you winded. Hosea, Joel, Amos, to Nahum, Habakkuk, epic, sweeping drama to the last words of the Old Covenant. Then, we wait four hundred years for the next written Word from the breath of God.

Beloved, grab your favorite mug and let’s sit a spell with the prophet Habakkuk.

Embracing God in the wilderness is wrestling through hard things, challenging questions, and unanswered prayers.

Habakkuk gives us an intimate picture of wrestling through our questions.

Habakkuk’s name means “embrace.” He embraces God when everything around him is falling apart. This small book of prophecy is a conversation between Habakkuk and God. Though Habakkuk boldly questions God, he does not get clear answers. Instead, God instructs him to have faith.

The Background

Habakkuk: a farmer and a prophet, likely a contemporary of Zephaniah and Jeremiah, possibly Ezekiel and Daniel. Habakkuk is aware of the potential threat from a Babylonian invasion.

Also, Habakkuk’s little book indicates he knew the Old Testament Scriptures well, was a competent theologian, and had great faith in God. He was a priest called to be a prophet. And, he was a man of prayer whose heart was breaking; he carries a burden for his people.

Like Job, Habakkuk questions God’s justice. However, in the end, both Job and Habakkuk realize that God is sovereign, and his judgment is far beyond their comprehension.

The key passage from this book is:

“The righteous shall live by his faith” Habakkuk 2:4

In his book, Habakkuk embraces God and wrestles with his human understanding of God’s ways. 

“O Lord, how long shall I cry for help, and you not hear?” Habakkuk 1:2

I feel the prophet’s wrestling. I, too, am wrestling through my lack of understanding.

Often, I raise the same question before God, “How long must I cry out for help, and not hear?”

How many nights will I lie awake as pain burns deep in my bones, and rest does not come? Relief is beyond reach. Weariness wears on me. How long, Lord? I’m so tired, and my limbs are heavy with fatigue. How long? How long, O God?

Precious One, what is your “How long?” question?

How long before my marriage is fixed? The wayward child returns? There’s a cure for your disease? How long before COVID is no more and face masks are a thing of the past? Before the finances are better or a job is available. A womb remains barren, mourning and sorrow eases, lonliness is filled, joy and peace replace depression and oppression? How long, O God?

We embrace God and wrestle in our humanness answers that may not come, answers we do not want.

Know this. When we are wrestling with God, there’s hanging on, grappling, that pulls us closer into His embrace.

Habakkuk wrestles, and then he watches, and he waits.

“I will take my stand at my watchpost and station myself on the tower, and look out to see what he will say to me, and what I will answer concerning my complaint.” Habakkuk 2:1

As if he was a watchman on the wall of Jerusalem, Habakkuk climbs to the watchtower and awaits a message from God. We have to wonder if Habakkuk was fearful of God’s reaction after he’d stated his complaint. I envy Habakkuk’s boldness, his patience to watch and wait as well as listen.

How often do we state our complaint before the Lord and move on? But, what if we positioned ourselves to watch and wait and listen? Beloved, when we do, we are building an enduring faith. Faith that embraces God when everything around us seems to be falling apart.

“And the Lord answered me: ‘Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so he may run who reads it.”

The Lord’s response was not what Habakkuk expected. Tucked into his message of five “woes,” there are three assurances.

  1. God’s grace: grace and faith always go together. (2:4)
  2. God’s glory: a promise that even though we live in an evil and corrupt world, God’s glory will fill the earth. (2:14)
  3. God is on His holy throne. (2:20)

God is on His throne, and He is in control even when our lives are falling apart.

Habakkuk gives us a stunning picture of this tension. He wrestles, watches, and waits as God promises His grace, His glory, and his assurance.

Embracing God in the wilderness when there’s a chance you may lose everything is hard.

There’s a good chance Habakkuk will likely lose everything; his family and his life. Still, he hangs on to God with every ounce of his being.

How does Habakkuk respond to God?

He prays.

“A prayer of Habakkuk…’O Lord, I have heard the report of you, and your work, O Lord” (3:1&2)

He worships!

“Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. God, the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like the deer’s; he makes me tread on my high places.” (3:17-18)

Precious One, how do you respond when everything around you is falling apart?

Are you embracing God in the wilderness? 

Are you wrestling through your questions? Will you climb up to the watchtower, watch, and wait for God to respond? Can you worship in your, “How long?”

Worship changes our perspective amid our circumstances.

The final three passages in chapter three are a picture of enduring faith. Habakkuk’s security is the Lord. Nothing. Else. Security is not wholly dependent on our circumstances. Instead, security is found in God alone.

“Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me, for in you my soul takes refuge, till the storms of destruction pass by.” Psalm 57:1

“The righteous shall live by his faith” Habakkuk 2:4

Lastly, I am here to encourage you, equip you, and guide you as you redefine your wilderness.

Your Wilderness Guide,

***

*Currently, we are in the book of Malachi. I’d love to share my Bible Reading Plan with you, along with my Bible Study Plan, if you are interested comment below or send a private email to tlmashburn@yahoo.com.

* Catch up here.

*Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotes are in the English Standard Version from Bible.com

PS: My first book, Mornings In The Word, is available now. Order your copy today. Mornings In The Word consists of short devotions and insights for the middle!

“There is no space to live well or love well, much less pursue the God who created us to be in fellowship with Him. We close the gap between what we need and what we want with more. Our spinning lives and broken hearts are empty while appearing full. We paste a smile on our face and tell anyone who asks we are okay while inside we are shattering a million different ways.” -Mornings In The Word