Habakkuk by name means "wrestle or embrace." He lived up to his name and how he wrestled! He asked all those questions we are often too afraid to ask. Why is there so much evil in the world? Why does violence always seem to win? Why cancer? Why do good people suffer and die and evil men live and prosper? Why doesn't the pain go away? Why? Why? WHY? But no answers come...not such that mends broken hearts and restores what has been stolen...it seems.
This wrestling doesn't even come close to an embrace. To "wrestle or embrace"? It doesn't make sense--one doesn't seem to line up with the other. I can't embrace someone or something I'm fighting against--especially when so often I don't even know what that is. But then I think of my children when they were small--when, as Mom, I had to persist in those dreaded tasks a mother has to do for the sake of her children...you know, pull out a sticker, give bitter medicine, hold frightened and wriggling child still while Doctor gives stitches or sets an arm, discipline when child doesn't understand, and grasp angry flailing fists to keep him from hurting self or someone else. In turn, each one of my children wrestled against me--against what was best because,in the moment, that which they fought against--the medicine,the cure, the discipline--was too painful, too distasteful, or too confining. How many times did I hear those words that almost every parent hears? The same words Habakkuk cried out to God, "WHY? IT'S NOT FAIR!"
Even though they couldn't see or understand that I was doing what was best for them, they would fight me with all they had. Being Mom and just as stubborn, I had to persevere till the task was finished. Medicine down, stitches sewn, sticker removed, even anger and vengeance abated while we wrestled and in so doing, I kept them safe. Finally, all energy spent, my little beloved one would cease his or her struggle and cling to me in need of comfort and solace. Why? Because when all was said and done, they knew that I loved them--loved them so much that I wouldn't let them go. So much that I would do whatever it takes to protect and care for them--no matter how much they fought. And in that moment, time stood still for the sweetest parent-child embrace--love endured through the wrestling.
How often I am that child wrestling against my Father and all that is-- even against the good He has for me. Why? Because in the pain and confusion of the moment, it seems that evil wins..that the odds are stacked against me and all that should be good loses. Divorce, estrangement, violence, death, loneliness, confusion, endless pain, bone-crushing weariness, and downright rebellion... Why fight the inevitable? The bigger question: Who or what am I fighting against? The world, God, evil, or myself?
Sometimes I think I fight and wrestle because I'm simply afraid to live the life I've been given. I avoid or put off what I can do because I'm even afraid of success...of what comes next. So I fill up empty time and space with empty-minded efforts and wasted energy rather than wholeheartedly pursuing God's perfect will and purpose. Not because I want to be disobedient but because I'm afraid to fail...Maybe you can relate?
But then there are those moments in the middle of all the questions. In the darkest of night, I remember what He has brought me through.
"I have heard all about You, Lord. I am filled with awe by Your amazing works. In this time of our deep need, help us again as You did in years gone by. And in Your anger, remember Your mercy." - Habakkuk 3:2
Even though I don't yet know who I am, I remember who HE is. Even though my world crumbles and I lose all that this life offers, I will endure... Even though I can't hear Him, see Him, feel Him, or touch Him, I remember what He has already done and somehow I know that He is still here. I can't see what He is doing or even imagine what He WILL do, but I know that God is--simply that He IS. And like Habakkuk, I cry out to God and I know that His "presence silences every lie." My wrestling soon fades into this Abba-Child embrace as I am wrapped in the arms of my Father... I am amazed.
"I will wait quietly for the coming day. . . 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." - Habakkuk 3:17-19