What a strange world we live in. I thought things were weird on election day as the results rolled in and the left was shocked—not to mention many on the right. A man was elected president who, it must be said, is at best a flawed candidate. At worst, many people believe that the world is collapsing around us.
Now, consider the pattern. We cry out that we do not like the world the way that it is. We fuss and fight and scheme and plot and cry and protest and press and argue and write post after post after post on what is wrong. Some demand justice. Some demand a recount. Some demand that the media stop being so dishonest. Some demand that the media take the president-elect down another peg. Some demand that people give the president-elect a fair chance. Some demand that people stop buying into the lies of the news media with its liberal slant. Some demand that people stop listening to backward-minded people who could elect such a person. We ask God to intervene. We hope the Russians have not already intervened. We cry out, “How can this be?”
Now, consider the story of Habakkuk. Habakkuk was a prophet who saw around him an unjust and corrupt world. In chapters 1 and 2 of his little Old Testament book, he decried the lack of justice. He wanted God to step in and take action. He asked God where the justice was. And God answered. God told him that he was about to use the Chaldeans, the Babylonian Empire, to judge the cruel people whose sinfulness had so offended Habakkuk. But the prophet couldn’t believe it. “What! The Chaldeans,” he might have said, “they’re worse than us. How could you use them?” And God made it clear that he would also judge the Chaldeans for their wickedness after using them to judge the people of the land.
At the end of the day, Habakkuk found himself in a position of wonder. How could God do what he had planned? How could God not? Habakkuk knew that judgment needed to come. He knew that God’s righteousness needed to be shown. He knew that such would cause hardship on the people. Then he found out that God would use a radically unrighteous people to bring about his plan. At the end of the day, all Habakkuk could do is tremble all the while expressing a genuine confidence in the goodness of God to get things right in a seemingly irredeemable situation.
Hear the words that close Habakkuk’s prophecy:
16 I hear, and my body trembles;
my lips quiver at the sound;
rottenness enters into my bones;
my legs tremble beneath me.
Yet I will quietly wait for the day of trouble
to come upon people who invade us.
17 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,
18 yet I will rejoice in the Lord;
I will take joy in the God of my salvation.
19 God, the Lord, is my strength;
he makes my feet like the deer’s;
he makes me tread on my high places.
What did Habakkuk do in the face of his political nightmare? He trusted the Lord. He admitted his fear. Then he declared that, no matter how hard things Got, he would trust that God is good and God is in control. Even in hardships and frustrations, Habakkuk would rejoice in the goodness and perfection and character of God.
Shall we learn from the prophet? I hope so. Do we, as a nation deserve the judgment of God because of our sinfulness? Absolutely. Are we crying out to God to change our situation? Without question. Is it feasible that a rotten political leader might be exactly the tool God will use to reshape our country? Of course. Is it possible that God will radically reshape the political leader to make him different than many expect. You bet. Can we know what God will do for sure? Not at all. Should we tolerate evil activity from our leaders? No way. Should we oppose the flaws in our president-elect’s character that are clear for all to see? Yep. But, should that keep us from praying for his good, asking God to change him, and pleading with the Lord for mercy on him and on our nation? Nope.
At the end of the day, may we be like Habakkuk, turning to the Lord, seeking his mercy, and trusting him no matter how weird things around us get. If God used Babylon to accomplish his will, and then brought judgment on Babylon for the way they sinned in the process, we must recognize that he is wiser and greater than any of our plans. So, in the face of the unknown, let us say, “yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. God, the Lord, is my strength…”