In my first Advent devotional I talked about how the book of Habakkuk starts with a question: how long? Maybe that’s how your Advent started as well. And maybe it’s not the only question you’re asking this season. As we go on to read the rest of the book, we see a series of questions that Habakkuk fires off. Why was God letting bad things happen? Why was he remaining silent? Why was he tolerating wicked things?
The questions are many and maybe that’s where you find yourself this Advent season too. But as I read through this chapter, I realized that questions don’t always demonstrate a lack of faith; at times, they can be evidence of our confidence in it. Habakkuk was questioning his surrounding circumstances and why God was letting them happen, but he was not questioning God’s character. And because of that distinction, his questions don’t draw him away from God – they draw him closer to God.
When Pierce and I argue, I often ask him later if he still loves me. In asking that, I fully expect him to say ‘absolutely.’ If I actually had any doubt in my mind that he loved me, I probably wouldn’t want to know the answer to that question. But because I trust him and because deep down I know he loves me, I’m not afraid to ask because I am not afraid of his response. I wonder if it was like that for Habakkuk. Habakkuk wasn’t afraid to ask bold, blunt questions because deep down, he knew God still loved him and his toughest questions wouldn’t change that.
This doesn’t give us permission to question everything God does because his ways are indeed higher than our ways. But I think it gives us permission to sit in the wondering and not feel guilty when we do ask God questions about what’s going on around us. It’s possible to ask questions without letting them negatively influence our view of who God is. If we let them, they might even help us to know God’s love for us on a deeper level. As we’ll see in the coming chapters, Habakkuk’s questions led him to “stand in awe of God’s deeds” once more (Habakkuk 3:2).
While questions can start as a symptom of doubt, they can become a catalyst for increased faith. It’s an exercise of our faith to ask a question and then sit and wait for a response, knowing it might not be the one we want. Knowing it might require us to trust more. Asking questions can also be an act of trust because they put you in a vulnerable position. They often reveal the desires of our hearts, expose our doubts and fears, and demonstrate just how little control we have over circumstances.
But if we let them, our toughest questions can birth the sweetest reassurance that even if our circumstances don’t make sense, God’s character is still good. That even if God isn’t responding in the way we thought he would, he still loves us deeply and has our best interest at heart. That in and of itself is the best possible answer we could hope for.
So this Advent season, may we be free from the guilt of asking questions. May we practice asking questions from a place of faith and trust, not doubt or manipulation. And, if and likely when God does not respond in the way we think he should, may we trust that he still loves us and he is still good.