How Long, O Lord?

“O Lord, how long shall I cry, and You will not hear? Even cry out to You, ‘Violence!’ and You will not save.” Habakkuk 1:2

Having Doubts

When we ask the question, “How long?”, we’re implying that there’s a delay, things are taking longer than expected. I can’t help but think of several “How long?” questions in this season of life because “things” are lasting longer than we expected.

Maybe you have questions like: 

  • How long will this last? 
  • How long until an opportunity comes? 
  • How long will this hurt? 
  • How long until a “normal” returns? 
  • How long will relationships go on unrestored? 
  • How long will disunity last? 
  • How long will I be out of a job? 
  • How long until You return?

There was a prophet who asked similar questions. His name was Habbakuk. He asked these questions and took his complaints to God because he carried a burden from all the things he saw. (Hab. 1:1)  

Habbakuk saw a lot of evil and injustice taking place, which made him question God and what He was up to. But through it all, God instructed Habbakuk to write to the people as a way of recording the answers the Lord gave him (Hab. 2:2). Ultimately, it was a message of hope and comfort through the chaos and destruction!

We know he encountered chaos because he labeled what he saw as “violence” (Hab. 1:2). This particular word used here means unjust gain; cruelty; damage; false; injustice; unrighteous, violence done against, and violence dealt with wrongly. (Strong’s) 

He continues to talk with God and then asks “Why?” questions (v. 3 and 14). 

Maybe you’re in a season right now where you’re asking the Lord, “How long?” and “Why?”. When you’re hurt, confused, sad, caught off guard, or when your “normal” is taken away, it’s only natural to ask these questions. 

Waiting Expectantly 

When Habakkuk finished asking his questions, he waited expectantly for the Lord to answer him. “I will stand my watch and set myself on the rampart, and watch to see what He will say to me, and what I will answer when I am corrected.” (Hab. 2:1). 

Did you catch what Habbakuk said at the end? “…when I am corrected.” Not when they are corrected. Because after all, wasn’t he just complaining about the people and the injustice and wrongdoing that was taking place? 

This is when revival can take place: when we start focusing on what’s going on inside of us and stop focusing on the wrongdoing of others.

With so much wrong going on around us, we have to focus on what’s going on inside of us.

A revival took place in the mind of Habbakuk in chapter 3. “O Lord, revive Your work in the midst of the years!” (v. 2). He didn’t say revive MY work, but YOUR work. “The prayer of Habakkuk shows us that revival is a work of God, not the achievement of man.” (David Guzik) 

He stopped complaining and shifted his focus on all that God was doing. This is the message of hope and comfort. 

Take a look:

  • His glory covered the heavens and the earth was full of His praise. (v. 3)
  • His brightness…(v. 4)
  • His power…(v. 4)
  • He stood and measured…(v. 6)
  • He looked and startled…(v. 6)
  • His ways are everlasting. (v. 6)
  • You divided the earth with rivers. (v. 9) 
  • The mountains saw YOU and trembled. (v. 10) 
  • You marched through…(v. 12)
  • You trampled…(v. 12)
  • You went forth…(v. 13)
  • You struck…(v. 13)
  • You thrust….(v. 14)
  • You walked…(v. 15)

His doubt from chapter 1 turned to faith in chapter 3. He accepted what was to come, believing that God was in control and justice would prevail. He was going to rejoice no matter what!

The Joy Of The Lord 

Take a look at Habakkuk 3:16. What parts of his body are affected after he saw God for who He is?

“The prophet’s heart pounded, his lips quivered, and his legs trembled. Habakkuk was about to collapse from this amazing encounter with God.” (The Bible Knowledge Commentary) 

Even though his body was weak, his confidence in God was strong.

If we continue to read the last verses in Habakkuk, we’ll find him rejoicing even through barrenness, famine, and desolation! (Hab. 3:17-19)  

“The prophet found a spirit of faith and joy born out of this deeply traumatic spiritual experience.” (Women’s Study Bible)

As believers, no matter what is going on around us, we can still know joy in the midst of chaos and wrongdoing. “The joy of the Lord is our strength.” (Neh. 8: ) 

His joy and confidence in God grew because of how God answered him, which only came as a result of his questions and complaints He took before the Lord. His relationship with God was sweeter and more intimate because he was honest about his doubt. 

Let your questions of “How long?” or “Why” lead to a quest with God and He’ll become your joy!  

  • What “How long?” or “Why?” questions do you have right now?
  • Are you sitting quietly and alone with God waiting for answers?
  • How does knowing that joy is birthed from a traumatic spiritual experience encourage you today?

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