Have you ever asked a question before? What about a why question in particular?
At our house, we have a 5-year-old and lately, it seems to be very popular to ask a lot of questions that begin with why. When I say a lot, I mean a lot.
Why did you do that? Why did you say that? Why is that like that? Why, why why?
Kids in particular love to ask why questions, but as I really thought about this more, I realized that even as adults we can ask these questions a lot as well. And, in some seasons we may find ourselves asking these questions more often than others.
While we all have asked these type of questions, if we are really honest, we have even asked God these questions. This is nothing new and there are actually quite a few examples of this in the Bible. Let’s look at a few together:
1- Moses asked, “Why have You dealt ill with Your servant?” Numbers 11:11
2- David asked, “Oh Lord why do You stand far off? Why do You hide Yourself in times of trouble?” Psalm 10:1
3- Job asked, “Why have You made me your target?” Job 7:20
4- The disciples asked, “Why was this man born blind?” John 9:2
5- Habakkuk asked, “Why do You make me look at injustice? Why do You tolerate wrongdoing?” Habakkuk 1:3
6- And even our Lord Jesus on the cross asked God “My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?” Matthew 27:46
The fact that Jesus also used this type of question tells me that these are important questions to ask, sometimes.
When Jesus was on the cross, the sin that was placed upon Him allowed Jesus to feel that God the Father had forsaken Him. This was the only time that Jesus experienced this and He asked the question.
In any relationship, when we are in situations where we find ourselves asking why, it builds the intimacy in the relationship. For example: if someone said something that hurt or upset you, you may ask the person why they did what they did. These questions are definitely not easy to ask, but you learn more about the other person and as you work through it, it helps build intimacy and trust in the relationship.
How many of us have ever been in a situation where we questioned God in this way?
This goes way back to Bible times. The verses that we just went through were some examples of people that asked God why questions.
Now, I would like us to focus on the book of Habakkuk for a few moments. This is a very small book in the Old Testament with 3 chapters. I encourage you to read through all of the chapters when you are able to. There is so much that we can learn in just these 3 chapters.
Habakkuk is a prophet who is ministering during the “death throes” of the nation of Judah. The nation was repeatedly called to repentance, and they refused to leave their sinful ways. We know very little about this prophet except that he asked God questions and he received answers.
The book is written in the form of a dialogue between Habakkuk and God, where Habakkuk is questioning why God is allowing evildoers among God’s people to go unpunished.
The prophecy that Habakkuk the prophet received.
2. How long, Lord, must I call for help,
but You do not listen?
Or cry out to You, “Violence!”
but You do not save?
3. Why do You make me look at injustice?
Why do You tolerate wrongdoing?
Destruction and violence are before me;
there is strife, and conflict abounds.
4. Therefore the law is paralyzed,
and justice never prevails.
The wicked hem in the righteous,
so that justice is perverted.
Habakkuk was troubled and confused. He had a problem that he couldn’t solve and it seemed like God wasn’t doing anything about it. So, then God responds to the prophet.
The Lord’s Answer
“Look at the nations and watch--
and be utterly amazed.
For I am going to do something in your days
that you would not believe,
even if you were told.
6 I am raising up the Babylonians,
that ruthless and impetuous people,
who sweep across the whole earth
to seize dwellings not their own.
7 They are a feared and dreaded people;
they are a law to themselves
and promote their own honor.
8 Their horses are swifter than leopards,
fiercer than wolves at dusk.
Their cavalry gallops headlong;
their horsemen come from afar.
They fly like an eagle swooping to devour;
9 they all come intent on violence.
Their hordes advance like a desert wind
and gather prisoners like sand.
10 They mock kings
and scoff at rulers.
They laugh at all fortified cities;
by building earthen ramps they capture them.
11 Then they sweep past like the wind and go on--
guilty people, whose own strength is their god.”
God revealed to Habakkuk that the Babylonians, would become God's instrument of judgment on Judah. Habakkuk could not fathom or understand God’s plan and he sure did not expect to hear what God was saying. For a time, evil would win over righteousness and bad things would happen to good people.
This led the prophet to be a bit more troubled and confused. So, he questions God again.
Habakkuk’s Second Complaint
12 Lord, are You not from everlasting?
My God, my Holy One, You will never die.
You, Lord, have appointed them to execute judgment;
You, my Rock, have ordained them to punish.
13 Your eyes are too pure to look on evil;
You cannot tolerate wrongdoing.
Why then do You tolerate the treacherous?
Why are You silent while the wicked
swallow up those more righteous than themselves?
14 You have made people like the fish in the sea,
like the sea creatures that have no ruler.
15 The wicked foe pulls all of them up with hooks,
he catches them in his net,
he gathers them up in his dragnet;
and so he rejoices and is glad.
16 Therefore he sacrifices to his net
and burns incense to his dragnet,
for by his net he lives in luxury
and enjoys the choicest food.
17 Is he to keep on emptying his net,
destroying nations without mercy?
Why was God going to use the Babylonians in this way? Surely God must have a better way or plan the prophet must have thought?
How many times do we feel like we need to “help God” in our own lives? We have all done it at one point or another.
So the prophet waits for God’s response.
I will stand at my watch
and station myself on the ramparts;
I will look to see what he will say to me,
and what answer I am to give to this complaint.
I think that was a pretty bold thing that Habakkuk did. He was basically saying, Lord, I’m going to wait here for You and I expect You to answer me. Habakkuk just could not understand why this was happening and he really needed some more answers.
If you notice here, Habakkuk also mentions something about being corrected. This is significant because that tells me that Habakkuk was open to correction, he was open to shifting his attitude in this situation as he got more insight from God.
The Lord in His amazing mercy, answers the prophet again.
The Lord’s Answer
2 Then the Lord replied:
“Write down the revelation
and make it plain on tablets
so that a herald may run with it.
3 For the revelation awaits an appointed time;
it speaks of the end
and will not prove false.
Though it lingers, wait for it;
It will certainly come
and will not delay.
4 “See, the enemy is puffed up;
his desires are not upright--
but the righteous person will live by his faithfulness.
God also acknowledges that the people are being wicked, but also that they will destroy themselves by their own evil. Pride and cruelty always bring destruction but the just shall live by his faith.
God always knows what He’s doing, no question. He is God. He is sovereign. And His timing is always perfect, no matter what situation we find ourselves in. And God will always work out all things for those who love Him. God will use everything in our lives for His purposes for us and for His glory.
So now, we have the prophet who is listening to God again and this time, he is really hearing the Lord. Faith is rising up in him. He is realizing that God is in control and will indeed accomplish His purposes, His way, and in His timing.
I love how the prophet responds to God. It’s with a beautiful prayer expressed in song.
Habakkuk 3:1-2, 16
A prayer of Habakkuk the prophet. On shigionoth.
2 Lord, I have heard of Your fame;
I stand in awe of Your deeds, Lord.
Repeat them in our day,
in our time make them known;
in wrath remember mercy.
16 I heard and my heart pounded,
my lips quivered at the sound;
decay crept into my bones,
and my legs trembled.
Yet I will wait patiently for the day of calamity
to come on the nation invading us.
Habakkuk realized that though he did not understand God's ways or timing, he could not doubt God's wisdom, love, or reliability. Then Habakkuk wrote his great affirmation of faith.
17 Though the fig tree does not bud
and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
and no cattle in the stalls,
18 yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
I will be joyful in God my Savior.
19 The Sovereign Lord is my strength;
He makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
He enables me to tread on the heights.
Habakkuk affirmed that even if everything he relied on failed, if everything that gave stability to his life crumbled, still he'd trust the Lord. This is so beautiful and very encouraging for us today. The prophet was able to move from questioning to trusting and praising.
What’s your why?
I encourage you to start praising God today, even through your questioning. It will build your faith in Christ and take you to a new level of trust and intimacy with the Lord.
When it comes to us asking God these questions, I think it’s important that we keep a few things in mind and in check within ourselves. It’s good for us to ask these questions, and I encourage you to ask.
Let’s look at 3 things to remember when asking God why questions:
1- When we ask why, it should bring us closer to God and not further.
2- When we ask why, our attitude and motives should be in check. (respectful, humble).
(Habakkuk eventually had the right attitude. He was a man of faith and he went to God the second time expecting to be corrected, because he knew he needed it.)
3- When we ask why, we need to be ok with whatever answer we get or don't get.
When you are about to ask God a why question remember this:
W- walk towards God
H- hold onto faith
Y- yield control to God's plan. To yield is to surrender or to submit.
When we yield our desired outcomes to God’s sovereignty, He can shift our why questions into other types of questions.
So, instead of asking why we can ask:
What can I learn from this situation?
How can I praise God through this situation?
Who can I help?
God will always work all things together for our good, no matter the situation. He will also sometimes use our situations to help others. There is something about empathizing with someone who has been through a similar situation that we have.
What’s your why?
May God bless you, keep you, and guide you, as your surrender all of your “whys” to Him.