Hard Questions In Violent Days2
The grisly murders that took place last Friday have shaken our country to the core. We all stand aghast at the perverted cruelty committed against, of all people, little children. It was a horrifying act carried out by an evil man in the most cowardly way. It makes us ask some hard questions. And it should. Thoughtful people ask questions and those questions are not signs of weakness. In fact we were designed as thinking people to ask questions.
Habakkuk was a prophet to Judah prior to the Babylonian exile. In the year 607 B.C. he asked a lot of questions. These questions where stirred up in his mind because the evil that surrounded him in a culture that had forgotten about God. He lamented…
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.
- Habakkuk 1:2-3
Have the unspeakable events of this past week made you feel like this? The term Habakkuk uses here for violence (v. 1) is not the usual term for sinful violence or the violence of natural catastrophes. This term is used in specific circumstances to describe extreme wickedness. The kind of wickedness unleashed at Sandy Hook Elementary School. There is a depth of evil and perversity to what Habakkuk sees that causes him to shudder in horror. In verse 3 we see what troubles the prophet even more than the horrible violence itself: it seems like the Lord looks on these sickening acts of evil with indifference. It can seem this way to us as well, especially in times like this when our cries for justice or some kind of resolution seem to echo back to us with no answer.
Thankfully the Lord responds to Habakkuk by announcing that He is not an indifferent spectator in the affairs of the world. Rest assured, if we are stirred up over the expressions of sin, evil and ungodliness in our culture, the Lord is all the more deeply concerned (Habakkuk 2:2-3). God is perfect in purity and righteousness; He hates evil (Habakkuk 1:13) and He will not leave it unpunished (Proverbs 11:21; 16:5; 17:5). He will destroy it (Revelation 21:4-5, 7-8).
How does Habakkuk respond to all of this? He questions, and yet his questions lead him to watch and wait for God, by faith (Habakkuk 2:4). Interestingly Habakkuk’s name comes from a root word which means to 'embrace'. Martin Luther explains his name this way,
"Habakkuk signifies an embracer, or one who embraces another, takes him into his arms. He embraces his people, and takes them to his arms, i.e., he comforts them and holds them up, as one embraces a weeping child, to quiet it with the assurance that, if God wills, it shall soon be better."
We have a lot of embracing to do in light of the horrific evil committed in Newtown Connecticut. Let’s do so with compassion and wisdom as we watch and wait for God, by faith (Habakkuk 2:4). If you are asking tough questions, good. That is a healthy thing, as long as you chase down the answers from God. As one writer put it “It is a wise man who takes his questions about God to God for the answers.” We took time last Sunday to look at what the Bible has to say about responding to extreme wickedness. If you haven’t had the chance to give it a listen, you can do that here. As we move out to care for others who are hurting, confused and afraid, let’s embrace them, weeping with those who weep (Romans 12:15) and pointing them to the One who has faced evil, suffered evil, conquered evil and will completely abolish evil some day soon (Revelation 21:4).