In the book of Habakkuk we get a peek inside the prophet’s prayer life. And what we see can help us as we face the inevitable questions of life that have to do with wondering and waiting for God to act. In the first four verses we get thrown immediately into lament. O Lord, how long? Why do you make me see injustice among your own people? Why are you idle? Habakkuk has been praying a long time and is disoriented by what’s going on around him. His only focus is on the present moment and how God seems to be silent.
But in verse 5 we get a reply. God doesn’t rebuke the prophet but commands him to do four things: Look, See, Wonder, Be astounded. The rest of the book is a description of this further reorienting of Habakkuk’s perspective and his heart. No wonder the first verse calls it a vision. For that is what God is aiming at in his exchanges with the prophet. He wants to give Habakkuk a bigger and broader vision of who He is and what His ways are. Habakkuk was stuck with his eyes down, frustrated that God wasn’t paying attention to what he was seeing. But all along, God wanted Habakkuk to turn his eyes upward.
By the end of the book Habakkuk’s eyes are wide open to see the glorious vision of God as a conquering victorious Savior. His perspective changed and his problems became somehow smaller. Even though the land will soon be utterly devastated by the coming Babylonians, he will rejoice. He won’t be controlled by what his earthly eyes see. He will take joy in the God of his salvation.
When we are left frustrated in prayer, wondering if God sees what’s going on, maybe we need to step back and ask God to change our perspective. What are we missing? Where are our expectations misplaced? How have we missed seeing God? And if our problems look huge and God seems absent, maybe we need to focus more on enlarging our vision of God so our problems can be put in their proper perspective.