PFOA: Habakkuk 1
"How long, O LORD, must I call for help? But you do not listen! "Violence!" I cry, but you do not come to save" (v. 2). We have all, at one time or another felt like Habakkuk. Now, the prophet was not crying out because he was suffering or sick. Sure he had problems, but these were not personal problems.
He was reading the Jerusalem Times. There were reports of crimes and violence; the poor and the honest were cheated and could not find justice. Corruption was rampant. The greedy and arrogant plundered the weak, exploited their victims, worshipped and trusted in their ill-gotten wealth. To Habakkuk, God seems to be absent and unconcerned. So he cried out and complained, "How long?"
Today, we don't have to look far to see injustice, exploitation of the helpless, aggression by the rich and powerful, corruption in politics, and repression in governments. The conflagration in the Middle East is fanned by ISIS. Nations are dealing with terrorism in their backyards and there are dry tinderboxes in Ukraine and the South China Sea. Then there is the Ebola virus threatening to spread beyond Africa. Where is God in all these?
In "low crime" Singapore we seemed to be insulated from much of these, but are we really? We have a busy port, Changi has frequent and high capacity air links to all parts of the world. We like to think our financial and communications infrastructure are world-class. These facilities are also accessible to those who mean to harm society, for the movement of terrorists, illegal funds and propaganda. Does God not see?
Christians are driven out from their homes and land, singled out for persecution and killed in the Middle East conflict and elsewhere. In the name of tolerance, secularism has circumscribed the freedom to worship, pray and witness in public spaces like schools, hospitals and the courts. Often because of our own failings, Christians and churches have become the subject of scorn and ridicule by the world. Does God not hear?
Personally we have laboured long in prayer and petition for unsaved relatives and friends. We have sought relief from sickness and release from difficult or abusive situations. We have committed our hopes and desires, and even our lives into God's care. Does God not care?
This may be our complaint. This was Habakkuk's complaint to God. God seem to be be unconcerned and silent. But God is there in our world. And He is active - His purpose will not be thwarted. He will accomplish his plan.
In v. 4 onwards, God replied to Habakkuk, "Look at the nations and be amazed! Watch and be astounded at what I will do! For I am doing something in your own day, something you wouldn't believe even if someone told you about it." In other words, "You've been looking around, that's good; but you've been looking around in fear of men. Now look and watch, and you will see Me working out my purpose. It will surprise you, may even come as a shock. These atrocities you see, these threats you anticipate, these adversities you now face, even though they seem to be orchestrated by evil men and forces, are working according to my plan to purify and restore the people I love, my chosen people".
In the following chapters, we will learn with Habakkuk how to watch by faith and see the hand of God shaping life of the people he prophesied to and by reflection, our own lives. Let us continue to pray, trusting in the goodness of our God.