I have read the book of Habakkuk many times over the years. I took my first really close look at the book about a year ago when I helped develop a discussion guide for my LIFE Group. After our group completed our study of the book, I had not given the book much thought. That is until a little over two weeks ago.
You see, the book of Habakkuk is about a man who followed God and had a strong faith in God. But he also struggled with God. There were things going on in the world around him that did not seem fair. There was great injustice in society around him. He knew God was there but God seemed to be silent.
A little over two weeks ago, my mother was diagnosed with a brain tumor. After consulting with a neurosurgeon, we came to realize that the situation was bad. The MRI showed a tumor that measured about 2.4 centimeters. The doctor told us that it appeared to be a highly aggressive, malignant tumor. After surgery, we found out that the tumor was much larger than anticipated. It was about the size of a tangerine. The pathologist confirmed our worst fears. It was a grade four (highly aggressive) glioma (malignant) tumor.
My mother is an active 59 year old woman. She just completed her bachelors degree a few years ago and had just taken a new teaching job a few weeks earlier. She is one semester away from completing her masters degree. She has had an almost perfect 4.0 GPA through all that. She has four grand-sons. She derives as much joy from “her boys” as any grandmother I have ever seen. She has a set of twin grandchildren on the way. They will no doubt be as precious to her as the others. I could point out many other things, but I am sure you get the idea.
This should not have happened to her. She has followed Jesus for a long time. She has given much of her life to service along side my dad in the church. Her trust in and reliance on God has been unwavering through circumstances both good and bad, easy and difficult. As far I can understand fairness, this is not fair. Not even a little bit.
But I need to rethink fairness. When I do, I realize that I don’t really want fairness. If God were completely fair, he would completely punish all of us. God does not always treat us fairly. He does much better than that. He treats us graciously. He has graciously kept my mother for 59 years. He graciously let her tumor be diagnosed in time to operate. He graciously gave her a skilled surgeon and others to provide medical treatment. He graciously gave her a large family that loves her and supports her completely. The Bible says that every good gift and every perfect gift comes from God and only God. There are some gifts from God that we would deem as not being good. Again, I think this is due to our not having a complete understanding of what “good” is. The Bible also says that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. That perfectly describes my mother. I cannot comprehend how this awful illness will work for her good, outside of taking her to heaven, but I trust God and his word that he will somehow work things together for her good.
It is the last few verses of the book of Habakkuk that bring me the most comfort and peace during this time. Even though the prophet still does not understand the mysteries of the way the Lord chooses to work, he still has confidence in God. He describes the devastation that he sees coming and expresses his faith. I pray God will grant me that faith as the storms of confusion and doubt come. Habakkuk 3:17-19 says: “Even though the fig trees have no blossoms, and there are no grapes on the vines, even though the olive crop fails, and the fields lie empty and barren; even though the flocks die in the fields, and the cattle barns are empty, yet I will rejoice in the Lord! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation! The Sovereign Lord is my strength! He makes me as surefooted as a deer, able to tread upon the heights.”