An Earnest Heart

Bible Book: Habakkuk  1 : 1-11
Subject: Sorrow; Hardship; Peace; Prayer; Faith; Earnestness

Habakkuk 1:1-11

One question I asked myself is “when is this carnage going to stop?” The prophet Habakkuk had the same question about his day. What can we learn from Habakkuk that will help us address the problems of our day?

The book begins with Habakkuk questioning God about why the godly seem to suffer and the wicked seem to prosper. Habakkuk’s ministry revolved around the two most significant events in the last quarter of the Seventh Century B. C. in the history of the ancient Near East—the fall of Nineveh to a coalition of Medes and Babylonians and the establishment of Babylon as the greatest regional power. These catastrophic events left many people fearful and disillusioned.

However, for the prophet, the rapid political change was not the most important issue. God’s people (Judah) continued to rebel against the demands of God’s covenant. Prophetic activity reached a pinnacle, not only with the ministries of people like Jeremiah, Nahum, Zephaniah, and Ezekiel, but also with abundant false prophets.

In the midst of all this chaos, Habakkuk seeks the face of God. Habakkuk possessed an earnest heart. He sincerely wanted to understand his world from God’s perspective. What are the characteristics of someone with an earnest heart?

I. Concerned About Injustice

The person with an earnest heart is concerned about injustice. (1:2-4)

A. Evil Never Seemed to be Punished

Injustice abounded. God answered that He was about to use the Babylonians to bring judgment. It was as if God was saying, “You think it is bad now; just wait, it will get worse before it gets better.”

B. When We See and Experience Injustice,

we want to see God move immediately into action. The Bible plainly teaches us that God establishes justice, but only on His timetable. He may even use violent people as His instruments to establish justice.

C. In Our Day Things Have Not Changed Much

We see innocent people slaughtered because they belong to the wrong ethnic group.

We see executives of large corporations get rich while their employees lose all their retirement  funds. We see violent criminals loosed from our prisons while others that commit minor offenses  are held indefinitely. We see Christians who are good employees get overlooked for promotion while those who are troublemakers, who don’t show up to work on time, and who do barely enough to get by are promoted. The most natural response is to be miffed and to question God. “God are you sure you know what you are doing?”

At times we may feel like Isaiah felt in Isaiah 59, “So justice is far from us, and righteousness does not reach us. We look for light, but all is darkness; for brightness but we walk in deep shadows. We all growl like bears; we moan mournfully like doves. We look for justice, but find none; for deliverance, but it is far away. So justice is driven back, and righteousness stands at a distance; truth has stumbled in the street, honesty cannot enter. Truth is nowhere to be found, and whoever shuns evil becomes a prey (59:9, 11, 14-15).”

D. We Must be Concerned about Injustice

An earnest heart cannot help but be concerned about the injustice in the world. As we ponder this injustice and cry out for God’s help, we must be careful that all the inequities do not drive us away from the only One who can change bring true justice to our world.

II. Yearning for Establishment of Righteousness

A person with an earnest heart yearns for establishment of righteousness (1:2-4)

A. We all Experience Injustice

Every Christian has or will experience injustice, even sometimes when we have done all the right things. We do not understand why the unrighteous seem to prosper while we are suffering. We are tired of seeing and dealing with the effects of sin. We want to see it completely vanquished so that we can experience the full measure of God’s blessings. We pray like David, “O righteous God, who searches minds and hearts, bring to an end the violence of the wicked and make the righteous secure (Psalm 7:9).”

B. We Cry Out to God

We may even think, “Lord, why can’t you do this today? Why can’t you deal with those who unjustly accuse me, and those who make fun of me because I have ethical and moral standards?”

C. God’s Response

God’s response to us is found in Psalm 37:6-40,
“Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him;
do not fret when men succeed in their ways,
when they carry out their wicked schemes.
Refrain from anger and turn from wrath;
do not fret—it leads only to evil.
For evil men will be cut off,
but those who hope in the Lord will inherit the land (7-9).”

Jesus said in Matthew 5:6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.”

Paul tells us that “For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed.” (Acts 17:31)

D. Be Patient – Trust the Lord

While we yearn for righteousness now, we must learn to be patient and trust God. We need to remember the words of the apostle Paul, “In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” (2 Timothy 3:12)
Also, we need to possess a heart of joy and an attitude of thankfulness because we know that one day God is going to make everything right.

III. Appeal to God

A person with an earnest heart directs his or her impassioned appeal to god in prayer. (1:2)

A. Yearn and Pray to See God Work

Habakkuk yearned to see evil vanquished and God’s honor vindicated, so he poured out his heart in prayer. Prayer at such times and seasons is helpful. Someone has said, “Toil, pain, doubt, terror, difficulty—all retreat before the recognition of a great life-purpose wrought out in entire dependence upon Heaven.” In prayer God can shine a light on our dark clouds and help us to understand His divine plan.

B. Believe God will Work

Habakkuk lived in a time when people believed that God’s people would be blessed and protected no matter how they lived. Habakkuk knew that  this belief did not square with reality. So he dared take this matter up with the God of the universe. He confronted his God face to face and asked Him the hard questions of life. He prayed and was determined to wait for an answer from God (2:1).

C. Wrestle with God about Unfairness

A person with an earnest heart will wrestle with God about the unfairness of life. We need to go to God in prayer because only in prayer will we hear God’s answers to our concerns. We can gain insights from people like David who said he actually envied the arrogant and the prosperity of the wicked. But the light dawned on him when he received God’s perspective. He said, “When I tried to understand all this, it was oppressive to me till I entered the sanctuary of God; then I understood their final destiny. Surely you place them on slippery ground; you cast them down to ruin. How suddenly are they destroyed, completely swept away by terrors.” (Ps. 73:16-19)

D. Remember that God is Sovereign

A person with an earnest heart knows that some prayers ascend from the hearts of God’s people to which, for a time at least, no response returns. When this happens we need to remember that God is sovereign. His will is always best even when we do not understand it. God will answer our concerns in his own time and in his own way. We need to learn that God is on the side of righteousness, even when evil appears to triumph. God hears our prayers, even when he delays, to answer or appears to deny them.


A former church member found out about a year ago that she has cancer. I have learned from her. The following is one of her journal entries:

God always answers prayers. Today his answer was “Yes,” and it was a better day. Not as much pain in my side. I spent most of the day on the front porch enjoying the sunshine and reading a little. God is good to me. I talked to several friends today about this journey. I have never asked “Why me” (I'm no better than the next person to have this) or said, “This isn't fair.” We all have our journeys in life, and this is mine -bad and good - good because God has blessed me with his angels here on earth to encourage me, pray for me, listen to me, and sometimes to simply say they love me. Thank you God for your angels and answered prayers. Today was a good day.

Habakkuk’s concerns were answered when he was able to believe that the Lord was present with him and his people, even in the midst of the deep problems of life. Habakkuk learned and teaches us that “faith and fact are not always compatible in the world of sense and sight, but that is not the whole world. There is a world of justice that only God fully comprehends. His people must accept by faith what they cannot confirm in fact.”

The horrors of our day are sometimes difficult to understand. Our hearts tire of seeing evil triumph. If we have an earnest heart, we will gain the right perspective in regard to the problems we face.

Habakkuk’s name means “one who embraces.” This is an apt name for a man who rested in the Lord and waited patiently for Him through very dark days. We need to learn to embrace whatever comes our way and wait patiently for God.