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How Long, O Lord? A Meditation on Habakkuk

In Habakkuk, the prophet cries out in a lament complaint twice, only to hear back from God a very unassuring response: Wait for me to answer.

And Habakkuk's complaints are legitimate. He is one of the faithful in Israel, and even though he knows Israel has its faults and is being punished by God for their infidelity, he also knows that Israel is better than the nations around them, if for no other reason than their special relationship with God. Yet, Habakkuk sees the "righteous" being destroyed by the wicked (in the first case, Assyria; in the second, Babylon). So he cries out to God.

At first he receives a satisfactory answer: God is raising up another nation to take out the wickedness of Assyria. But in between God's answer and the prophet's second complaint, something went horribly wrong, and Israel was once again accosted by brutality. Thus, Habakkuk's second complaint.

But the answer he receives this time is baffling. It comes almost as silence. "Wait," God says. "I assure you I will do something, but wait for it. Wait for me."

How long can we wait? As Christians, we read this and are still looking for God's action. Even the coming of Jesus didn't slow down the wickedness we see all around us. And, often times, this wickedness pervades our lives and slows us down. We see:

+ A brother in Christ passed over for a promotion because he won't flirt with his female boss

+ A sister in Christ ridiculed and left by her non-Christian husband

+ Christian teenagers ostracized at high school activities because they go to youth group on Friday night and not the drunken parties

How long, O God, before you set things right?

But as with Habakkuk, all we can do is wait, and rest assured in the meantime that God is working and that the arrogant will not endure (2:5). In the meantime, the righteous will live by their faithfulness (2:4).

So we set our hearts on God, make a commitment to him based on faith, and live our lives, knowing that in the end, God will set things right and reward our faithfulness to him.

Jeremy M. Hoover writes at his Christian blog,

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