Those tough questions
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 paralysed,
and justice never prevails.
The wicked hem in the righteous,
so that justice is perverted. Habakkuk 1:2-4
Don’t ever try to tell me that the Bible is irrelevant. Listen to these words of Habakkuk. He’s looking around in disbelief at all the suffering in his land. He’s overwhelmed by all the destruction and violence in his world. He’s crying out to God for help. He’s raging about injustice.
When you watch the ten o’clock News, do you not feel this way?
When you see pictures on the internet of suffering and violence and destruction, do you not cry out in helplessness and hopelessness?
When you watch a documentary about the clothing factories in India, do you not feel rage at the injustice of exploitation bubbling up inside you?
When someone you know is suffering beyond belief, are you not consumed with questions as you try to make sense of it all?
If it’s the language of the Bible you struggle with, here’s the same passage in the Message, a more contemporary version of the Bible –
God, how long do I have to cry out for help
before you listen?
How many times do I have to yell, “Help! Murder! Police!”
before you come to the rescue?
Why do you force me to look at evil,
stare trouble in the face day after day?
Anarchy and violence break out,
quarrels and fights all over the place.
Law and order fall to pieces.
Justice is a joke.
The wicked have the righteous hamstrung
and stand justice on its head. Habakkuk 1:2-4
Justice is a joke.
The need for the fair trade movement to stand strong is greater than ever.
The need to address the ever-growing divide between rich and poor in our country is greater than ever.
The need to show compassion and protection for all living things is greater than ever.
At the heart of Habakkuk’s prayer is a barrage of questions and accusations addressed at His God. This God that seems to be refusing to listen. This God that seems to be refusing to respond.
This outpouring is essential all about unanswered prayer. When we cry out in despair to God and are met with silence.
Interestingly Habakkuk never questions the existence of God. His faith in God’s existence never falters. It’s what God is doing and no doing that Habakkuk has issues with. I can understand that. There have been very few occasions in my life where I have had serious doubts about the existence of God, but plenty of times when I have struggled to understand what God is playing at.
God, help me! Are you even listening? I’m at the end of what I can handle. I’m drowning in anxiety here. I’m reaching out to you. Make it stop.
You can see what’s going on in my world, in the world that you created. You can see the violence and suffering. Why aren’t you doing anything about it? Why are you allowing innocent children to suffer and die in this way? Why are you allowing people to bring about such evil atrocities?
You’re the only one who can stop all this and yet you don’t. How can you put up with seeing all this unnecessary destruction day after day after day? What don’t you do something?
We can’t beat this. The rich are too powerful. The evil will always find a way. The greedy will never change. I feel so helpless and hopeless.
I can’t stand watching those around me suffer. Why don’t you take their suffering away? We’ve prayed and prayed and prayed to you. Why won’t you do something?
It’s breaking my heart.
Why is it not breaking yours?