Season After Pentecost: The Old Testament Passage – Going to the “Compliant Department”

The oracle that the prophet Habakkuk saw.
O LORD, how long shall I cry for help, and you will not listen? Or cry to you “Violence!” and you will not save?
Why do you make me see wrong-doing and look at trouble? Destruction and violence are before me; strife and contention arise.
So the law becomes slack and justice never prevails. The wicked surround the righteous– therefore judgment comes forth perverted.” (Habakkuk 1:1-4)

I could have used the passage last week. It could have been my chief song and compliant! But it was the passage for last week, and would have emoted all over – I don’t think I would have moved forward and through the experience. And come out the other side. There is value in mourning and grieving, in naming our pain and our situation. But if we dwell there, and get stuck there, then we will never see hope and possibilities.

The writer of Habakkuk at the opening of the book naming and explaining his pain, and expressing it to his God. There is nothing wrong with venting to God, and asking God why these things are allowed to happen. And, why God won’t do anything about it. Words of lament have as much to be said as words of praise. In fact, words of lament are what makes words of praise so wondrous when the situation is remedied.

“I will stand at my watchpost, and station myself on the rampart; I will keep watch to see what he will say to me, and what he will answer concerning my complaint.
Then the LORD answered me and said: Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so that a runner may read it.
For there is still a vision for the appointed time; it speaks of the end, and does not lie. If it seems to tarry, wait for it; it will surely come, it will not delay.
Look at the proud! Their spirit is not right in them, but the righteous live by their faith.” (2:1-4)

The writer of Habakkuk received his answer fairly swiftly; or at least it seems so as he moves from his compliant to God’s action. But even so, the writer of Habakkuk is told he must be patient. Sometimes a great deal of time passes before issues and situations are resolved; and the resolution itself can take time. One must be patient. Wait on God.

I have learned in my own life to wait three days when something happens that I lament about. Wait three days before I think all is lost. Waiting allows the full event to be understood. It forces me to come to God, and see what God has to say. I have found it a blessing many times to have three days to process something.

But as I said before, don’t allow yourself to get stuck in the situation. Do not assume the sorrow, misery, suffering etc will be unending. Yes, name the pain. Yes, speak of the hurt. Yes, come to God and express the vehemence of your feelings. And then wait for God’s action and response. It may come in three days, three weeks, three months, or three years. Or even decades. God hears your pain and sorrow. God is with you. And God will sustain you. Selah!