Richard L. Floyd
"For there is still a vision for the appointed time;
it speaks of the end, and does not lie.
If it seems to tarry, wait for it;
it will surely come, it will not delay." - Habakkuk 2:3
We know next to nothing about the prophet Habakkuk other than that he wrestled, as many believers do, with the deep question of how a just God can remain silent in the face of all the wrongs in our world.
One of his questions to God sums it up, "Why do you look on the treacherous, and are silent when the wicked swallow those more righteous than they?" (Habakkuk 1:13) Good question!
When I was a teenager my mother was diagnosed with cancer, had some rough, final years, and then died. And my Sunday school faith was not up to the task of understanding this event in my life. It made no sense. My mother wasn’t an international arms merchant or a greedy drug dealer: she was a beloved middle-school librarian. She was kind, generous and active in her church.
So that started me on a lifetime of wrestling with the seeming unfairness of our world. And in my decades of ministry I have sometimes prayed to God in the mode of Habakkuk. In the car on the way home from a pediatric cancer unit or the graveside of a local saint, I have said to God, sometimes out loud, "You’ve got some explaining to do!"
And when I watch the news about our broken world I am full of questions, questions that can be pondered but not answered.
For me these questions make the most sense at the foot of the cross of Jesus. As a Christian I believe that Good Friday isn’t God’s final word. That word comes on Easter. And to be an Easter person in a Good Friday world means living in faith, waiting in hope.
Which was God’s answer to Habakkuk: the vision will come. If it seems late, wait for it. In the meantime, which is the time we live in, live by faith.
O God, your ways are not our ways, and your thoughts are not our thoughts. Strengthen our faith day by day as we wait and watch. Amen.
Richard L. Floyd is Pastor Emeritus of First Church of Christ (UCC) in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, and author of A Course In Basic Christianity and When I Survey the Wondrous Cross: Reflections on the Atonement. He blogs at richardlfloyd.com.