Not every message is made for every season. Often our understandings of God and how God functions limit God’s speech to platitudes and orthodoxy. While some patterns of behavior persist in every age, the unexpected happens. Our lives shift in seasons, and the world changes in astonishing and sometimes grievous ways. We all respond differently to these large swings. Some people depend on old modes of being and others find it necessary for a fresh response to the situation.
Habakkuk’s story reflects the need for a fresh word in new and difficult times. The prophet is discontent with the political and economic institutions of Jerusalem; he is vexed by the persistence of corruption in God’s sacred space. So he is ensconced in an existential question: If God is just, where is God in an unjust world?
For many people this question leads to doubt and disengagement with God. However, Habakkuk realizes his obligation to engage with God even when that dialogue is fraught. Today’s readings present two complaints the prophet lobs at God and two responses. The prophet demands from God an answer to the question of how long the suffering will persist. God’s initial answer is insufficient and so Habakkuk persists. He first persists in his petition but then the prophet declares: “I will stand at my watchpost . . . [and] keep watch to see what [God] will say to me.” Habakkuk is persistent in his desire to be faithful to God’s response.
Too often we lob complaints at God without understanding our responsibility to stand at our watchpost and see how God will respond. Habakkuk calls us to be steadfast in our determination to make the world better and to seek justice by continuing to actively wait for God’s message. God’s response is pointed. Don’t be passive. God tells the prophet to “write the vision; make it plain.” God’s deliverance of God’s people requires each of us to listen for God’s voice and then actively participate in redemptive moments.
God, help us to be active as we wait for and carry out your message. Amen.
This week includes All Saints Day, when we remember those who have come before and handed down the faith to us, especially through trials. Habakkuk reminds us that our predecessors sometimes suffered discouragement, but the righteous have always lived by faith. The psalmist also has experienced hard times, but he knows that God’s commandments are true and lead to life. The Thessalonians have experienced persecution as well; yet through their strength their faith and love continue to grow to the glory of Christ. May the same be said of us and our church communities! The famous story of Zacchaeus illustrates that the crowd of faithful witnesses that we celebrate on All Saints Day includes those who have been lost—outsiders—for Jesus comes to seek and save the lost.
Read Habakkuk 1:1-4; 2:1-4. How can you wait actively for God’s response to your prayers and complaints? How will you enact God’s response when it comes?
Read Psalm 119:137-144. How do you persist in following God’s commandments in the face of injustice and corruption?
Read 2 Thessalonians 1:1-4, 11-12. The work of the church has never been easy. How does your faith community work to exude God’s love in a time when many reject or feel rejected by church institutions?
Read Luke 19:1-10. When have you run to Jesus? How can you share your experience so others pursue Jesus as well?
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