This is part of an on-going series on the Minor Prophets; a bible study I wrote two years ago. For more information on this study, including permission to use it for your own group, please read the introduction.
The final part of our study of Habakkuk looks at chapter 3.
KEY VERSE: “I stand in awe of your deeds, O LORD. Renew them in our day” (verse 2)
Chapter 3 is a song attributed to Habakkuk. It is written by one who stands in awe of who God is and what he does. The focus is clearly on GOD – his power, his justice, his greatness. This isn’t “pretty” – it is POWERFUL.
When I see God for who he is, when I meditate on what he has done, I long to see him move in power – now!!
KEY VERSE: “Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior.” (verse 18)
The final verses of the book of Habakkuk are a beautiful example of lament worship. I love laments – one of my favourite Psalms (Psalm 42) is a lament. Lament worship is when I tell God everything that’s wrong (things that aren’t going well, my hurts and frustrations and anger and all the other things those perfect Christians don’t struggle with!) and then say “BUT”. The “but” is the important part. The “but” turns complaints into worship. The “but” is when I say that while all those hard things are true, there are other true things – like the unchanging nature of Who God Is. I will choose to worship him when life is hard.
I am so tired, life has been so hard lately, BUT I know you are good.
I’ve been waiting so long, Lord, BUT I trust you. I know you are faithful.
Even if things don’t turn out the way I hope and pray they will, I will still praise you, Lord!
Lament worship encourages me. It tells me it’s okay to feel down, depressed, weary. It tells me God WANTS to hear my heart. When he tells me to cry out to him, pour my heart out to him, he actually means it! Lament worship shows me how to talk to God when I’m having a bad a day, a tough week, a hard year. Dan Allender explains the place of the lament beautifully:
“To lament – that is to cry out to God with our doubts, our incriminations of him and others, to bring a complaint against him – is the context for surrender. Surrender – the turning of our heart over to him, asking for mercy, and receiving his terms for restoration is – impossible without battle. To put it simply, it is inconceivable to surrender to God unless there is a prior, declared war against him. Christians often assume our conflict with God was finished when we converted… But the battle is not over with conversion…Sanctification is a lifetime process of surrendering as more and more intense conflicts with God and others expose and dissolve our urgent preoccupation with the self. A lament is the battle cry against God that paradoxically voices a heart of desire and ironic faith in his goodness… A person who laments may sound like a grumbler – both vocalize anguish, anger, and confusion. But a lament involves even deeper emotion because a lament is truly asking, seeking, and knocking to comprehend the heart of God. A lament involves the energy to search, not to shut down the quest for truth. It is passion to ask, rather than to rant and rave with already reached conclusions. A lament uses the language of pain, anger, and confusion and moves toward God.”
The book of Psalms is full of lament worship. The following is not an exhaustive list of lament psalms, by any means, but it’s a good place to start in learning the heart of the lament.
Psalm 10, Psalm 13, Psalm 22, Psalm 55, Psalm 56, Psalm 69, Psalm 102, Psalm 142, Psalm 143
- Think of something amazing God did in your life, or in the life of someone you know.
- How do you feel when you think about what God did?
- Sharing testimonies of what God has done in our lives (both the big things AND the small things) is a great way to strengthen our faith, and the faith of those around us. Think of a small testimony to share with others this week.
My journals are full of laments – raw emotion followed by a BUT, and a declaration of faith. I’d like to encourage you to try writing a lament of your own. Start with anything you’re sad/angry/weary/upset about – tell God everything. Then, with the same heartfelt honesty, tell God what you know to be true about him DESPITE the problems you’re facing. If you’re anything like me you may need a few pages to write your lament, but these two phrases are a good place to start:
Right now I feel…
BUT I know You…