How Long Oh Lord! 14

The prophet Habakkuk, in today’s First Reading, stresses the power of faith — he also gives us a clearer idea of what exactly faith is.

Habakkuk lived in the 6th century BC, when Israel had been conquered by the Babylonians and the majority of Jews had been deported. It was as if a hurricane, like Katrina, had swept over not just one city, but the entire country. Habakkuk is in the middle of it all, he sees the devastated city and countryside, strewn with corpses, burned and barren.

Habakkuk feels the pinch of poverty and destruction. And he does the most natural thing in the world: he complains to God about it:

How long, O Lord? I cry for help, but you do not listen!

How Long Oh Lord?

How Long Oh Lord?

Habakkuk’s prayer teaches us an important lesson: Having a strong faith doesn’t mean we won’t suffer and be confused in life. Faith doesn’t take away our crosses, but a strong faith does show us where to turn when the crosses come: to God, our all-wise, all-powerful, all-lovingFather.

God answers Habakkuk’s prayer.

He promises that he will act, that he will restore Israel’s fortunes. Though, he doesn’t give all the details. In fact, he even seems to imply that it may take longer than Habakkuk would like:

“If it delays,” God says, “wait for it.”

God shows that he is not aloof from our sufferings.  He is watching over us, no matter what. He promises that if we continue to have faith in him, in spite of suffering and hardship, we “shall live”.

Faith isn’t a “trouble-free philosophy.” Faith is strength which endures — it’s the power to persevere through difficulties — the power that comes from knowing that our Father’s in charge.

14 comments

  1. Pingback: How Long Oh Lord! | Parchment Paradigm+

  2. Thanks for an excellent reflection. It hit home. It can be hard to trust in God’s plan–and His timing for it–when things don’t go the way we hoped and prayed for.

    • I had been thinking about this passage from Habakkuk all week, and then I had this reflection on Saturday after hearing the Gospel at Mass, when Jesus said to his disciples: “Rejoice because your names are written in heaven.” This is where we ought to place our faith and hope.

      Our hopes are easily dashed when things in this world, big or small, let us down. And it isn’t easy just to say, this is all part of God’s plan too. A lot of times it’s our plans, expectations, and desire for quick results that cause the frustration — it’s not God’s fault. Other times, we are find ourselves faced with a difficult trial we have to suffer, and it seems unfair. This is precisely when we need to exercise our faith. Faith, rather than removing our crosses, is the virtue that allows us to embrace them.

      This is what I like about Habakkuk’s prayer. At first glance, it may look like he’s shaking his fist at God. In actuality, he turns to God and embraces the reality of the cross.

  3. Thank you. The Old Testament speaks of suffering beyond what we have known, and it speaks of people who strove to stay true. Remembering their struggles give us hope.

    I have been told and begun to learn that when we become Christians that is when our troubles begin. For then we are called upon to stand and do battle as soldiers of Christ Jesus — in times such as these.

    The explanation seems to be in Hebrews.

    Hebrews 12:3-11 English Standard Version (ESV)

    3 Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. 4 In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. 5 And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons?

    “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord,
    nor be weary when reproved by him.
    6 For the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
    and chastises every son whom he receives.”

    7 It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? 8 If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. 9 Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? 10 For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. 11 For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

    Fortunately, if we ask for it, Christ Jesus gives us the armor (Ephesians 6:10-20) we need to endure.

    • My good friend and fellow servant of the Lord, Citizen Tom. Today I wrote about gratitude, and I’d like to thank you for your reflection here, which I did not notice until today (I also wrote about being caught off guard).

      In addition to the virtues of faith, obedience, and gratitude, which go hand in hand, we must also remember the virtues of patience and hope — thanks for reminding us that we also need to grow in our hope.

      God bless you and Happy Sunday!

  4. Pingback: Habakkuk 2. God Answers Habakkuk. The Just Shall Live By Faith. God. | GodLovesBummyla

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