Sometimes I go through valleys that seem very deep. Not philosophically, but deep with depression and wondering where is The God Who Is Here. Is He here? Does He notice what is going on in the world? Does He realize my dear friend and neighbor has been getting more and more decrepit from his MS? Does He see the pain of the protesters and the greed and hatred of others? Does He understand the hardship of a world struggling with a pandemic while racial riots rock cities all around the globe?
Like Habakkuk I sit back and wonder as I noted in a : “O Lord, how long shall I cry for help,and you will not hear? Or cry to you “Violence!” and you will not save? Why do you make me see iniquity, and why do you idly look at wrong? Destruction and violence are before me; strife and contention arise. So the law is paralyzed, and justice never goes forth. For the wicked surround the righteous; so justice goes forth perverted.” (Habakkuk 1:2-4)
Then I read Father’s answer that He gave the prophet, and like our Old Testament forebear I am somewhat perturbed by His reply. He’s going to bring something terrible against the evil-doers . . . by way of others who are even worse! My wisest friend once asked me shortly after the election of 2016, “Do you think Trump could be part of God’s judgment on America?”
And whether he or Obama was the first run of this performance, are the current health and racial trials the second part of Father’s response? “You who are of purer eyes than to see evil and cannot look at wrong, why do you idly look at traitors and remain silent when the wicked swallows up the man more righteous than he?” (Habakkuk 1:13)
So Habakkuk stands and waits for God to answer to this second question, which The God Who Is Here resoundingly answers in chapter 2:
“Woe to him who heaps up what is not his own — for how long? . . .
“Woe to him who gets evil gain for his house, to set his nest on high, to be safe from the reach of harm! . . .
“Woe to him who builds a town with blood and founds a city on iniquity! . . .
“Woe to him who makes his neighbors drink . . .in order to gaze at their nakedness! . . .
“The violence . . . will overwhelm you, as will the destruction of the beasts that terrified them, for the blood of man and violence to the earth, to cities and all who dwell in them.“
Such is His fury that the prophet, who at first was demanding God do something about the evil he could see, stands and prays, “In wrath remember mercy!” (Habakkuk 3:2), and finally admits his fear: “I hear, and my body trembles; my lips quiver at the sound; rottenness enters into my bones; my legs tremble beneath me.” (Habakkuk 3:16)
And so in the quiet time of my depression I ask the protesters, the anti-protesters, the mask-wearers, the mask-avoiders, on whatever side of the political, social or cultural aisles you may be: Please, in wrath, remember mercy.
And I pray with the prophet to the God Who Is Here, Father, please, in Your wrath, remember mercy.