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Call me Habakkuk.  Overwhelmed.  Stunned.  Saddened.  Dismayed.  Disturbed.  Heartbroken.  More questions than answers.  A loss for words.

That’s the way prophet Habakkuk felt 2,600 years ago as he observed what was going on in the culture of the kingdom of Judah.  All around him he saw endless heart-wrenching examples of inequity, inhumanity, and the miscarriage of justice; mistreatment and murder of those who bore God’s own image; robbery of one’s fellow man of all dignity, respect, and regard.  Just as sadly and disturbingly, he saw senseless violence, wanton destruction, and a blatant disregard for the rule of law, both God’s and man’s.  Threaded through all of it was deep-seated conflict and strife.

You would have thought that, rather than being a man of 2.6 millennia ago, Habakkuk had been sitting beside me on the sofa watching the evening news over the last several days.

Thus, Habakkuk begins his prophecy:

How long, Lord, must I call for help,
but you do not listen?
Or cry out to you, “Violence!”
but you do not save?

Why do you make me look at injustice?
Why do you tolerate wrongdoing?
Destruction and violence are before me;
there is strife, and conflict abounds.

Therefore the law is paralyzed,
and justice never prevails.
The wicked hem in the righteous,
so that justice is perverted.  (Hab. 1:2-4)

and…

Your eyes are too pure to look on evil;
you cannot tolerate wrongdoing.
Why then do you tolerate the treacherous?
Why are you silent while the wicked
swallow up those more righteous than themselves?  (Hab. 1:13)

Translation: “God, where are you?  Sovereign LORD, do you not see; do you not know?  Where are you in all of this?  How long will you let this go on?  Do something!”

Habakkuk will go on to say, “God, I’m going to keep asking these questions until I get an answer.  I’m not going anywhere until I hear back from you on this!”

I will stand at my watch
and station myself on the ramparts;
I will look to see what he will say to me,
and what answer I am to give to this complaint.  (Hab. 2:1)

God’s initial response was one of firm affirmation that he was neither unaware nor inactive.  He was at work in ways that were imperceptible and unfathomable to man.  Just as he had always acted in righteousness and mercy, so God would act again.

Look at the nations and watch—
and be utterly amazed.
For I am going to do something in your days
that you would not believe,
even if you were told.  (Hab. 1:5)

Habakkuk indeed believed that God had acted mightily in the past, and the prophet was able to recall many of the details of his wonderful deeds in ages gone by.  “Just do it again, LORD!  Please do it now!”

Lord, I have heard of your fame;
I stand in awe of your deeds, Lord.
Repeat them in our day,

in our time make them known;
in wrath remember mercy.  (Hab. 3:1)

In the meantime, as I too, like Habakkuk, await an answer from Lord, I join with the ancient prophet’s spirit of underlying confidence in God which transcends even the most dire of circumstances.

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,

yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
I will be joyful in God my Savior.

The Sovereign Lord is my strength;
he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
he enables me to tread on the heights.  (Hab. 3:17-19)

Today, I find myself struggling and fervently praying for insight into how to best speak a word from the Lord into the tumult and tempest gripping our nation.  I share the shock, outrage, and heartbreak over the malicious killing of George Floyd, yet another unarmed, subdued African American who died needlessly, senselessly, and tragically, and yet again at the hands of those sworn to protect and serve.  It also deeply saddens and disturbs me when this righteous call for justice and equality through impassioned, peaceful protest is diluted, derailed, and drowned out by those simply bent on mindless violence, destruction, and mayhem.

I suppose you can call me Solomon as well; not the wise king of renown, but the overwhelmed child of a man.

“LORD, my God, I am only a little child and do not know how to carry out my duties. Your servant is here among the people you have chosen, a great people, too numerous to count or number. So give your servant a discerning heart.”  (I Kings 3:7-9)

Please join me in that prayer for wisdom.

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