What are you playing at, God?

Remember Habakkuk’s question?

How long, Lord, must I call for help,
but you do not listen?  Habakkuk 1:2

Well, this is God’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.
I am raising up the Babylonians,
that ruthless and impetuous people,
who sweep across the whole earth
to seize dwellings not their own.
They are a feared and dreaded people;
they are a law to themselves
and promote their own honour.
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;
they all come intent on violence.
Their hordes advance like a desert wind
and gather prisoners like sand.
They mock kings
and scoff at rulers.
They laugh at all fortified cities;
by building earthen ramps they capture them.
Then they sweep past like the wind and go on –
guilty people, whose own strength is their god.’  Habakkuk 1:5-11

What? You’re kidding me! This is God’s answer? It can’t be. God has heard the cry of His people and this is how He is going to answer it? By raising up the Babylonians: how can that possible be the right thing to do?

God Himself goes on to list all the reasons why Habakkuk must be thinking this is a terrible idea:

  • the Babylonians are ruthless and impetuous
  • they’re sweeping their land taking homes that do not belong to them
  • they’re feared and dreaded
  • they’re a law unto themselves
  • they promote their own honour
  • their horses are swift and fierce
  • they are intent on violence
  • they gather prisoners like sand
  • they mock kings and scoff at rulers
  • no defences are strong enough to keep them out
  • their own strength is their god

Eleven reasons right there for steering well clear of the Babylonians.

And yet God is raising them up. God is going to use them as part of His plan for His people. This doesn’t make sense at all!

God knows that.

Watch – and be utterly amazed.

Oh yes, Habakkuk is definitely going to be utterly amazed. This isn’t what he signed up to. This isn’t the God he decided to serve. This goes against everything he thought he knew about his God. How can God possibly choose to use the ultimate enemy, this force of evil to bring about good? It’s unbelievable!

For I am going to do something in your days
that you would not believe,
even if you were told.

Too right.

Habakkuk cannot help himself. He says what we’re all thinking.

Lord, are you not from everlasting?
My God, my Holy One, you will never die.
You, Lord, have appointed them to execute judgement;
you, my Rock, have ordained them to punish.
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?  Habakkuk 1:12-13

Exactly, Habakkuk. Bang on.

What are you playing at, God?

I know you are holy and everlasting. Pure Righteous. 

So how on earth can you tolerate this?

It happens in our own lives too, doesn’t it? We cry out to God for help and deliverance and then the answer comes, but it is not what we expected or hoped for. Not the right answer in our opinion at all. In fact, we keep praying and praying, not believing that this could possibly be God’s answer. We choose to believe God hasn’t answered yet and so we keep praying and wait for a better answer.

Why would God choose NOT to heal our best friend from cancer and let her die? How can that possibly bring glory to Him? Imagine the glorious witness it would be if our prayers for healing had been answered?

And why would God allow that stillbirth when we’d prayed faithfully throughout the pregnancy for a healthy baby? What on earth was God playing at there?

And why does God allow the wrong leader to be elected when there was an alternative leader who could have made a massive change for good?

And why does God allow natural disasters that destroy homes and lives? He created the world – He could make sure these things never happened again?

And why when whole communities join together in prayer for a lost child to be found does that child end up discovered floating in a river?

If this is God’s world, then why is it totally screwed up? How did He allow it to get this way?

Why do good things happen to evil people and bad things happen to great people? 

Why do the evil leaders seem to flourish and succeed?

What on earth is going on in our world? 

What on earth is God playing at?


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