Michael H. Floyd ends his introduction to Habakkuk with two excellent paragraphs that aptly describe the difficult path one travels to faithful hope in the God of history when that history (whether past, present, or future) is plagued by so much injustice.
The thematic development of the book as a whole finally focuses the reader’s attention on those contemporary situations in which injustice is so all-pervasive that it seems to derive not just from the human capacity for malice and self-deception but from the very way in which the world works. Hopefulness then expires because that world itself seems made for injustice. The revelation that God created the heavens and the earth may only aggravate such situations, particularly when God’s people move beyond the innocuous affirmation of this notion in principle and attempt to affirm it in concrete historical terms. God may then become implicated in the injustice, or the oppressors may appear to attain divine legitimation, but in any case the attitude of hopelessness is only reinforced.
There are grounds for objecting to such hopelessness, but they can only be discovered by questioning God about his apparent cooperation with injustice. In response God points to the commonsense observation that oppressors tend to overstep themselves, and to the universal if sometimes vague realization that they thereby lose their legitimacy. Such a response implies that oppressors can succeed only by usurping a sovereign power greater than their own, and this implication makes room for hope in the capacity of that power to renew the world order. Commitment to justice is thus not finally opposed to faith in the divine creator but rather ultimately springs from it. The book of Habakkuk emphasizes, however, that there is nothing self-evident about this insight. It is a hard-won realization that is reached as prophetic souls dare to let God correct what they claim to know of him, and as God’s people dare to follow suit.