“Trust in Jehovah with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding.”—PROVERBS 3:5.
1. Why do we all need comfort?
WE ALL need comfort. Perhaps our lives have become full of worries, disappointments, and anxieties. We may be suffering because we have an illness, because we are getting older, or because someone we love has died. Some of us are being treated badly by others. Additionally, people around us are becoming more and more violent. True, these “critical times” prove that we are living “in the last days” and that each day we are getting closer to the new world. (2 Timothy 3:1) Still, maybe we have waited a long time for Jehovah’s promises to come true, and we may be experiencing more and more difficulties. So where can we find comfort?
2, 3. (a) What do we know about Habakkuk? (b) Why will we examine the book of Habakkuk?
2 Let us examine the book of Habakkuk to find the answer to that question. Even though the Scriptures do not give us many details about Habakkuk’s life, his book is truly encouraging. The name Habakkuk probably means “Ardent Embrace.” This could refer to Jehovah’s warm embrace that comforts his worshippers. Or it could also refer to the way that his worshippers tightly hold on to Jehovah. Habakkuk spoke to God and asked him some questions. Jehovah inspired Habakkuk to write down the conversation because He knew that we would benefit from it.—Habakkuk 2:2.
3 This conversation between the distressed prophet and Jehovah is all that the Bible tells us about Habakkuk. But his book is part of “all the things that were written beforehand” in God’s Word, “so that through our endurance and through the comfort from the Scriptures we might have hope.” (Romans 15:4) How can the book of Habakkuk help each one of us? It can help us to see what it means to trust in Jehovah. And Habakkuk’s prophecy assures us that we can have peace of mind no matter what problems or trials we have.
PRAY TO JEHOVAH
4. Why was Habakkuk distressed?
4 Read Habakkuk 1:2, 3. Habakkuk lived in a very difficult time. The people around him were wicked and violent, and this made him extremely sad. Everywhere he looked, he saw the Israelites treating one another cruelly and unfairly. Habakkuk wondered: ‘When is this wickedness going to end? Why is Jehovah taking so long to do something about it?’ He felt helpless. So he begged Jehovah to do something. Habakkuk may have started to think that Jehovah no longer cared about His people or that He would not act. Have you ever felt the same way?
We must not be afraid to tell Jehovah our concerns or doubts
5. What can we learn from the book of Habakkuk? (See opening picture.)
5 Did Habakkuk ask these questions because he had stopped trusting in Jehovah and his promises? Not at all! Habakkuk was asking Jehovah for help with his doubts and problems, which shows that he had not given up hope but still trusted in Him. Habakkuk was clearly worried and confused. He did not understand why Jehovah was waiting to act and why He was allowing him to suffer so much. The fact that Jehovah inspired Habakkuk to write down his concerns teaches us an important lesson. We must not be afraid to tell Jehovah our concerns or doubts. Actually, he kindly invites us to pray and to tell him exactly how we feel. (Psalm 50:15; 62:8) Proverbs 3:5 encourages all of us: “Trust in Jehovah with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding.” Habakkuk applied these words in his life.
6. Why is it important to pray?
6 Habakkuk trusted in Jehovah, his Friend and Father, and took the initiative to draw close to him. Habakkuk did not just worry about his situation and try to fix it on his own. Rather, he prayed about his feelings and worries. This is a good example for us. Jehovah, who is the Hearer of prayer, invites us to show that we trust in him by praying and telling him our concerns. (Psalm 65:2) When we do this, we will see how Jehovah answers our prayers. We will feel his warm embrace when he comforts and guides us. (Psalm 73:23, 24) He will help us to understand how he views our situation, no matter what trials we suffer. Praying to Jehovah is truly one of the best ways that we show we trust in him.
LISTEN TO JEHOVAH
7. How did Jehovah react when Habakkuk told Him about his concerns?
7 Read Habakkuk 1:5-7. After Habakkuk told Jehovah about his worries, he may have wondered how Jehovah would react. As a loving Father, Jehovah understood how Habakkuk felt. He knew that Habakkuk was suffering and begging for help. So Jehovah did not rebuke Habakkuk but told him what He would soon do to the unfaithful Jews. In fact, Habakkuk may have been the first person whom Jehovah told that their punishment would be very soon.
8. Why was Jehovah’s answer not what Habakkuk expected?
8 Jehovah explained to Habakkuk that He was ready to act. He would punish the violent and wicked people of Judah. By saying that this would happen “in your days,” Jehovah showed that this judgment would come while Habakkuk or the Israelites around him were still alive. Jehovah’s answer was not at all what Habakkuk expected. The Chaldeans, or Babylonians, were brutal. They were more violent than the Israelites, who at least knew Jehovah’s standards. So why would Jehovah use this cruel pagan nation to punish his people? This would only cause more suffering for Judah.* (See footnote.) How would you have felt if you were Habakkuk?
9. What other questions did Habakkuk ask?
9 Read Habakkuk 1:12-14, 17. Even though Habakkuk understood that Jehovah was going to use the Babylonians to punish the wicked people around him, he was still confused. But he was humble and was determined to continue trusting in Jehovah. In fact, he said that Jehovah continued to be his “Rock.” (Deuteronomy 32:4; Isaiah 26:4) Habakkuk was convinced that God is loving and kind, so he was not afraid to ask Jehovah some more questions, such as: Why would Jehovah allow things in Judah to get even worse and his people to suffer even more? Why would he not do something right away? Why would the Almighty “keep silent” and tolerate wickedness everywhere? After all, Jehovah is the “Holy One,” and his “eyes are too pure to look on what is evil.”
10. Why may we sometimes feel just like Habakkuk?
10 Sometimes we may feel just like Habakkuk. We listen to Jehovah. We trust in him and read and study his Word, which strengthens our hope. We also hear about his promises when we listen to what his organization teaches us. But we may still wonder, ‘When will our suffering end?’ We can learn from what Habakkuk did next.
WAIT FOR JEHOVAH TO ACT
11. What was Habakkuk determined to do?
11 Read Habakkuk 2:1. Habakkuk’s conversation with Jehovah gave him peace of mind. It made him determined to wait for Jehovah to act. Habakkuk repeated his determination when he said: “I quietly wait for the day of distress.” (Habakkuk 3:16) Other faithful servants of God also kept waiting patiently for Jehovah to act. Their example encourages us because it proves that we can do the same.—Micah 7:7; James 5:7, 8.
We should wait patiently for Jehovah to act and trust that he will relieve our pain in his own time
12. What can we learn from Habakkuk?
12 What can we learn from Habakkuk’s determination? First, we must never stop praying to Jehovah no matter what problems we have. Second, we need to listen to what Jehovah tells us by means of his Word and his organization. And third, we should wait patiently for Jehovah to act and trust that he will relieve our pain in his own time. If we imitate Habakkuk, we will have peace of mind and be able to endure. Our hope will help us to be patient and happy no matter what problems we have. We are confident that our heavenly Father will act.—Romans 12:12.
13. How did Jehovah comfort Habakkuk?
13 Read Habakkuk 2:3. We can be sure Jehovah was pleased that Habakkuk decided to wait for Him to act. The Almighty knew exactly what Habakkuk was suffering, so He comforted the prophet and lovingly assured him that He would answer his sincere questions. Habakkuk would soon get relief from all his worries. It was as if Jehovah told Habakkuk: “Just be patient and trust in me. I will answer your prayer, even if it seems to take a long time.” Jehovah reminded Habakkuk that He had already decided when He would fulfill His promises. So he encouraged Habakkuk to keep waiting. In the end, the prophet would not be disappointed.
14. What should we be determined to do when we suffer trials?
14 We too need to wait for Jehovah to act. We also need to listen carefully to what he tells us. Then we will have confidence and peace of mind no matter what trials we suffer. Jesus encouraged us not to focus on “the times or seasons” that God has not told us about. (Acts 1:7) We need to trust that Jehovah knows the best time to act. Therefore, we should not give up but should be humble and patient and have faith in God. And while we wait, we should use our time wisely and serve Jehovah as best we can.—Mark 13:35-37; Galatians 6:9.
JEHOVAH GIVES LIFE TO THOSE WHO TRUST IN HIM
15, 16. (a) What promises can we find in the book of Habakkuk? (b) What do these promises teach us?
15 Jehovah promised: “The righteous one will live by his faithfulness,” and “the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of Jehovah.” (Habakkuk 2:4, 14) Yes, Jehovah promises to give eternal life to those who are patient and trust in him.
16 That promise found at Habakkuk 2:4 is so important that the apostle Paul quoted it three times in his letters! (Romans 1:17; Galatians 3:11; Hebrews 10:38) We can be sure that no matter what difficulties we suffer, we will see Jehovah’s promises come true if we trust in him. Jehovah wants us to focus on our hope for the future.
17. What does Jehovah assure us he will do for us if we trust in him?
17 The book of Habakkuk has a powerful lesson for all of us who are living in the last days. Jehovah promises eternal life to any righteous person who trusts in him. So let us continue to strengthen our trust in God, no matter what problems and worries we have. What Jehovah said to Habakkuk assures us that He will support us and save us. He kindly asks us to trust in him and to wait patiently for the time that he has already set for his Kingdom to rule the earth. At that time, the earth will be filled with happy and peaceful people who worship Jehovah.—Matthew 5:5; Hebrews 10:36-39.
TRUST IN JEHOVAH AND BE JOYFUL
18. How did Jehovah’s words affect Habakkuk?
18 Read Habakkuk 3:16-19. What Jehovah told Habakkuk affected him greatly. Habakkuk meditated on the amazing things that Jehovah had done for His people in the past. Now his trust in Jehovah was strengthened. He was sure Jehovah would act soon! That comforted the prophet, even though he knew that he might still suffer for some time. Habakkuk no longer had doubts. Rather, he had complete faith that Jehovah would save him. In fact, what he says in verse 18 may be one of the greatest expressions of trust we read in the Bible. Some scholars believe that it means: “I will jump for joy in the Lord; I will spin round for delight in God.” What a powerful lesson for all of us! Jehovah has not only given us wonderful promises for the future, but he has also assured us that very soon he will fulfill those promises.
19. How can we be comforted by Jehovah, as Habakkuk was?
19 The vital lesson we learn from the book of Habakkuk is to trust in Jehovah. (Habakkuk 2:4) To keep trusting in Jehovah, we need to strengthen our relationship with him. So here is what we must do. (1) Keep praying, telling Jehovah about all our worries and concerns. (2) Listen carefully to what Jehovah tells us in his Word, and follow the direction he gives us through his organization. (3) Be faithful and patient while we wait for Jehovah to fulfill his promises. That is what Habakkuk did. Even though he was very distressed when he began his conversation with Jehovah, in the end he was encouraged and joyful! If we imitate Habakkuk, we too will be comforted by the warm embrace of our heavenly Father, Jehovah. What greater comfort could we get in this wicked world?
Habakkuk 1:5 uses “you” in plural, showing that the destruction would affect all the people of Judah.