I wonder when the last time you really longed for something was. I pre-ordered John Grisham’s latest book months before its release date and spent time eagerly anticipating its arrival (by the time you read this, I’ll have long since read it!). I remember a trip to the Northern Areas in Pakistan, and I spent the long journey back to the capital longing for a shower (perhaps those around me wished I’d had one sooner…) And during the respective pregnancies, I’ve longed for the birth of our two boys.
Perhaps you’ll guess from my Twitter name that there’s something I’m longing for even more.
I read Habakkuk and see a man who is longing for things. He’s longing for answers. He’s longing for justice. He’s longing for peace. But he’s not sat in a corner quietly waiting, twiddling his thumbs and keeping his head down, he’s actively longing. He’s crying out to God. “Why?”, he asks. “How can you stand it?” He’s a lot more blunt with God than I tend to be.
Lord how long must I ask for help and you ignore me?
Why are you silent while the wicked swallow up those more righteous than themselves?
WHAT ARE YOU PLAYING AT?
(Ok, so that last one was a paraphrase…)
But through all this questioning, there’s a sense in which Habakkuk is patient. He’s encouraged to wait for the revelation – ‘Though it linger; wait for it’. His crying out isn’t simply despair – it’s calling on a God whose character he knows. He appeals to God’s justice. The past shapes his understanding of the present, as he patiently waits for the future. There’s a balance to be had here – calling on God for justice and peace, whilst knowing that justice and peace will come.
And Habakkuk rounds off with one of my all-time favourite phrases in the Bible.
Though we live in a world that is steeped in violence, sin and apparent hopelessness, we still worship a God who ‘cannot tolerate wrongdoing’ and we look ahead to a day when He will bring it to an end. In our lives, online and off, do we cry out for justice, while at the same time looking and pointing ahead to a time when injustice will be brought to an end? Do we dare to rail against God, while patiently knowing that our complaints will be answered, and justice will come?
Will we, like Habakkuk, cry out as we wait patiently?