Short Answer: The people of God shall live by hope, from which faith grows. But what is the question? Habakkuk carries out an animated appeal to God in chapters 1 and 2. Habakkuk begins by bemoaning the state of Judah. It was full of corruption, the Torah was forgotten and leaders failed to stop idolatry. God responds with, “Babylon will come and teach Judah a lesson”. Shock of shock. Habakkuk pleads, “But they are worse than we are.”
In the prophetic voice Habakkuk is shown that Babylon and their like [Rome, Nazis, etc.] worshiped power and evil empires are examples to the godly, for in the end they contain the seeds of their own destruction: Greed, Injustice, Pride, and Idolatry [the worship of the first three].
God, not Habakkuk has a plan. No matter what personal struggles, economic turmoils, or international conflicts may surface; it is not evil that is in control – despite how it may seem to Habakkuk or ourselves. Habakkuk is not to look at the external of the world, but is rather to trust in God. God has a plan, and Habakkuk fails to see it.
So is suffering just going to go on and on? How is that reassuring – God? Here we have a parallel with message of Job [While Job’s questions were personal, and Habakkuk’s national – they amount to the the same thing -“Why?”]. A question God does not directly answer.
Rather He says, “Trust me.” God is in control – “Let all the world be silent.”
With that Habakkuk is shook by the encounter with God:
16 I heard and my heart pounded,
my lips quivered at the sound;
decay crept into my bones,
and my legs trembled.
Yet I will wait patiently for the day of calamity
to come on the nation invading us.
17 Though the fig tree does not bud
and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
and no cattle in the stalls,
18 yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
I will be joyful in God my Savior.
It took a personal encounter with God, for Habakkuk to take his eyes off the situation, and to put them back on God. Despite the evil, God is still God. It is not by our works, or even our worries, that we can have hope. God sees what we do not. Our eyes are not to be on the “evil” about us, but on the God who controls all. That is where hope comes from, and with it the faith in Him who cares.