How long, O Lord, must we cry for help?

It has been awhile since I have taken the time to open the Bible, to sit with the Lord’s word and let it wash over me. Today, I opened the Bible to the Book of Habakkuk, in which the prophet cries out:

How long, O LORD, must I cry for help and you do not listen? Or cry out to you, “Violence!” and you do not intervene? Why do you let me see iniquity? why do you simply gaze at evil? Destruction and violence are before me; there is strife and discord. This is why the law is numb and justice never comes, For the wicked surround the just; this is why justice comes forth perverted.

Habakkuk 1:1-4

I am sure many of us have felt the same way many times in our lives. It is hard not to cry out now as we see what is occurring in Ukraine and in our own streets. It is hard not to cry out now when we see politicians and others encouraging the destruction of what God has created — human life in all forms and biologically distinct man and woman.

God’s response is clear. We cannot expect to understand His ways, but He always has a plan for our good:

Look over the nations and see! Be utterly amazed! For a work is being done in your days that you would not believe, were it told.

Habakkuk 1:5

In Habakkuk’s time, the Chaldeans/Babylonians were set to destroy Jerusalem. The prophet surmises that this will occur as punishment because God’s people had turned away. They had forgotten and abandoned His law. (Hmmm… sound familiar?) The people were numb to the law because it was not bringing them immediate reward on earth. The world was not enforcing the law on earth and so they saw no justice or reason to follow.

God reminds them:

Write down the vision; Make it plain upon tablets, so that the one who reads it may run. For the vision is a witness for the appointed time, a testimony to the end; it will not disappoint. If it delays, wait for it, it will surely come, it will not be late. See, the rash have no integrity; but the just one who is righteous because of faith shall live.

Habakkuk 2:2-4

God calls us to have faith. To be patient. To wait. To not turn away from Him for the passions of the world, for the cancelations of the world, or for the need for immediate gratification. By our faith, we shall live. If we are rash, if we demand what we want (or think we want) and don’t have faith that the Lord will provide what we need, neither we nor our feigned relationship with God will have any integrity. God is not a sugar daddy. He calls us to a real relationship. He calls us to a relationship that will utterly amaze us. That we would not believe even if He told us. He offers us a relationship of love and faith and trust. A relationship in which we listen to and heed His word, for He will be faithful, even when we turn away. But God will not give in to our momentary tantrums when we think things are not going our way. He will not try to appease us with things of this world, because He knows that that will not satisfy us and will not ultimately be for our good. He acts only out of love and for the love of us, even when He knows we may not yet understand or accept it. God is not like the parent who knows that giving in to a screaming child who wants to eat a whole bag of candy will ultimately result in stomach pain, but gives in so the child doesn’t hate the parent at that moment. God knows what will bring us ultimate happiness. And even though we may sometimes give in to our children, when we know we should not, God knows better and will continue to work for our ultimate good, even when we may cry out (or even lash out at Him) in the meantime.

God reminds us:

Woe to him who builds a town with blood, and founds a city on iniquity! Behold, is it not from the Lord of hosts that people labor only for fire, and nations weary themselves for nothing? For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.

Habakkuk 2: 12-14

God doesn’t call us to labor in vain. We weary ourselves when we act in the way of the world, instead of in the way of the Lord. As Jesus tells us many years later:

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Matthew 11:28-30

It is easy to get distracted by the world around us. It is easy to become overcome by the tragedy, turmoil and chaos around us. God makes it easy, when we listen to Him. Wait for it. Wait for Him. He has a plan. Learn from Jesus. Follow Jesus — even when the world says otherwise.

Lord,

I have been distracted by the world around me and my own desires and plans. I have chosen to focus on this world instead of you. Help me to listen to your word. Help me to follow your will, to take up your yoke, rather than the heavy one that the world tries to place upon me. Help me not to be rash, but to have patience and faith in your plan. I know it is for my good, even though I don’t yet understand it.

Wait for it

Is anyone else tired of it?  Tired of the constant fighting?  The discord across the country?  The blaming and name calling?  The media highlighting the bad instead of the good?  I want to scream when I watch the news and often find myself walking out of the room.  Where is God in any of it?  Where is God in our lives?

Tonight the Bible opened to the Book of Habakkuk, with the prophet complaining to God, echoing some of my own sentiment:

How long, O LORD, must I cry for help and you do not listen?

Or cry out to you, “Violence!” and you do not intervene?

Why do you let me see iniquity? why do you simply gaze at evil?

Destruction and violence are before me; there is strife and discord.

This is why the law is numb and justice never comes,

For the wicked surround the just; this is why justice comes forth perverted.

Habakkuk 1: 2-4

Habakkuk is a short book, so I read it all.  I must confess, I did not understand all of it, but the part that jumped out to me was God’s response:

Then the LORD answered me and said:

Write down the vision; Make it plain upon tablets, so that the one who reads it may run.

For the vision is a witness for the appointed time, a testimony to the end; it will not disappoint.

If it delays, wait for it, it will surely come, it will not be late.

See, the rash have no integrity; but the just one who is righteous because of faith shall live.

Habbakkuk 2:2-4

Wait for it.  It will surely come, it will not be late.  Wait for it.  The rash have no integrity. Wait for it.  For the just one who is righteous because of faith shall live.  Wait for it.

Patience is not my strength.  I read these lines over and over hoping they would lead me to some further insight.  But it still came back to these three words: wait for it.  Why can’t I know everything now?

I know the answer.  I don’t always like the answer, but I know the answer.  Because it is not my plan, not my timetable, not my vision.  I know God has a plan and I know that this year of 2020, will result in better vision for all of us.  We need faith.  We need patience.  We need to not let ourselves become victim to the ideas of the world around us.  The vision is coming.  Wait for it.  Wait for it with patience and integrity and faith.  It will  come at the appointed time.  We may think it is delayed, but it will not be late.  And when that vision comes, and it will, we need to write it down.  We need to share it.  It will not disappoint.

God,

You are mightier than anything 2020 can throw at us.  I know you have a plan and a timetable that I do not understand.  I have faith, even when the world seems to be crumbling around me, that your plan and your vision is greater than all of this.  Sometimes I just need reminding.  I just need to slow down and not be rash.  Help me to be a witness to your vision.  Help me to see the good when the world focuses on the bad.  Help me to “wait for it” with faith and integrity.