Note: I apologize for sending this so late, but my morning didn’t quite work out as planned.
1The burden that Habakkuk the prophet saw.
2How long, YHWH, must I call for help,
and you do not hear me?
Must I cry out to you, “Violence!”
Yet you don’t save?
3Why do you make me see disaster,
and look at trouble?
Destruction and violence are before me,
Strife and quarelling rise up!
4Therefore law (Torah) becomes weary,
And judgment doesn’t win in the end.
For the wicked surround the righteous,
so the judgments that are issued are confused.
. . .
1At my watchpost I will stand,
I will take my position on the rampart.
And I will watch to see what he will say to me,
And what answer he will return to my complaint.
2And YHWH said, “Write the vision,
and make it plain on the tables,
so that a runner may read.
3Because the vision is yet for an appointed time,
It gives witness to the end.
It does not lie.
If it delays, wait for it,
because it will surely come, and will not tarry.
4Look at the arrogant person!
He is not right inside!
But the one who is righteous will live by faith. — Habakkuk 1:1-4; 2:1-4
If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a hundred timesâ€”I don’t really like to wait. It’s a four letter word. I don’t like to say it, and I don’t like to do it. I’m pretty sure Jody has said it a few times in these devotionals as well.
Now you might think that a person who was extremely patient would be God’s ideal. He would just hang out and announce piously, â€œWhenever the Lord wants to work is OK with me!â€ That’s a peaceful picture, but I’m not so sure it’s some kind of divine ideal.
In fact, there are quite a few examples in scripture of God’s servants being quite impatient. In this text, taken from the lectionary for this coming Sunday, Habakkuk is anything but patient. He wants God to explain to him why he has to continue to wait. Why does he cry for help, but it seems that the Lord is not hearing him? Not only does he complain, but he takes a stand and stands his ground, challenging God to explain himself. Sometimes this passage is read quite piously. Habakkuk is watching and doing his best while he waits for God, or he’s standing against he enemy. But I believe he’s standing up to God and saying, â€œThings are bad, and you’re supposed to do something about it!
There’s a time and a place for patience and waiting, but then there is also a time and a place for impatience. When things are wrong, badly wrong, patiently waiting may be the worst thing to do. Habakkuk’s concern is the violence and destruction done by the wicked to the righteous. Being â€œpatientâ€ with thisâ€”waiting apathetically as though it didn’t matter, would be very wrong.
It’s good not to be a whiner, complaining at every hardship. At the same time, there are quite appropriate times to stand up to God and say, â€œHow long?â€ Are you driven to challenge God by the site of injustice as Habakkuk was?