Authored by Mike Krick, Senior Director of Advocacy I have been studying the book of Habakkuk lately and have found myself going through some similar patterns as this prophet. God, how long before you listen? Do I have to yell before you come to the rescue? Why am I forced to look at evil and stare trouble in the face day after day? Justice is a joke, and the wicked far outnumber the righteous so that justice has become perverted.
As I read this book, I am reminded of a writing by Pastor Siva Moodley, the leader of one of our church partners in South Africa, Christian Life Centre. Here is a portion of what he wrote, a modern day psalm, a modern day prophet questioning why:
Oh love! how BEAUTIFUL you are, YOU are my refuge and my strength. The new dawn arrived nestling as a lake of HOPE. Can a million words suffice the elation of my HEART? Oh how I recline under the shelter of love’s wings. LOVE, your pledge of SHELTER, your pledge of REFUGE, and your pledge of HOPE overwhelm my spirit.
Aids you thief, you peril, why have you chosen me to rob. You defile the comfort of the bed of love. With a heart of remorse I ASK, WHAT is your grief with ME? LOVE, where is my refuge and my strength? Love, have you abandoned me? Where are those promises you made? LOVE, tell me, is Aids your master? Is death your master? Is pain your master? Love, answer me! Have you abandoned me? I am standing all alone in a sea of death and misery.
AIDS, I submit that you are the victor. I am broken, I am defeated, I am wounded, I surrender. Love has abandoned me. Aids, I confess that you cannot be defeated; your weapons are indestructible. There is no mercy in your weapon of death. Your form of surprise is ABHORRED. Love, you have been defeated. A new victor REIGNS, AIDS.
But the Lord spoke with a gentle voice and said, you know that my compassion and my love for you is eternal. I am a God of love and love can NOT be defeated.
At the end of Habakkuk, the prophet prays to God. He says that “he stands in awe of God’s deeds.” He proclaims hope by sharing how God has delivered his people, saved his anointed ones, and crushed the wicked. He states how he will “wait patiently for the day of calamity.” He proclaims God as his “strength” and “enabler.”
As I have wrestled through this book and personally seen some overwhelming suffering, tragedy and evil, it can easily have the appearance of hopelessness, similar to what Habakkuk experienced and what Pastor Siva is currently experiencing with such a high percentage of AIDS victims in his community.
But God is NOT silent! There is hope for the hopeless. Psalm 10:14 says,
“But you do see, for you note mischief and vexation, that you may take it into your hands; to you the helpless commits herself; you have been the helper of the fatherless…O Lord, you hear the desire of the afflicted; you will strengthen their heart, you will incline your ear to do justice to the fatherless and the oppressed, so that man who is of the earth may strike terror no more.”