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LORD, how long do I have to call out for help? Why don’t you listen to me?

Part 1

January 15, 2010

LORD, how long do I have to call out for help?

Why don’t you listen to me?”

How often go we hear or read that Christianity isn’t relevant any more? The title line sounds like something from today – where people are wondering if God even exists. Continue reading the chapter that this comes from and you see:

“How long must I keep telling you that things are terrible? Why don’t you save us?
Why do you make me watch while people treat others so unfairly? Why do you put up with the wrong things they are doing? I have to look at death. People are harming others. They are arguing and fighting all the time.
The law can’t do what it’s supposed to do. Fairness never comes out on top.
Sinful people surround those who do what is right. So people are never treated fairly.”

That sounds pretty relevant too. It’s a comment anyone could make after watching just a few minutes of the evening news.

Or, “Google” a few of these and see what you get.

Feel free to look up others – but there’s no doubting that the questions are quite relevant today.

The thing is, these lines were written about 2,700 years ago! Yes – about 700 BC. They are from Habakkuk, considered a “minor” prophet, who gets to do something pretty major – talk to God and get an answer!

The lines above are from the NIRV, which is more in line with styles of writing / speaking today. I normally prefer to use the NIV which would be

Hab 1:2 How long, O LORD, must I call for help,
        but you do not listen?
        Or cry out to you, “Violence!”
        but you do not save?
Hab 1:3 Why do you make me look at injustice?
        Why do you tolerate wrong?
        Destruction and violence are before me;
        there is strife, and conflict abounds.
Hab 1:4 Therefore the law is paralyzed,
        and justice never prevails.
        The wicked hem in the righteous,
        so that justice is perverted.

In either case – this is someone who is clearly not happy with what’s going on around him, and also clearly not happy with what he thinks God isn’t doing about these things. Both of these are situations that many of us feel we are in all too often. Sounds pretty relevant to me. 2,700 years and things haven’t really changed all that much. There’s still death and destruction – although we can now carry it out on a much grander scale than ever before. There’s still injustice, strife and conflicts in the world, but thanks to the Internet we can see more of it and see it so much quicker than ever before. There’s still too much violence, the law isn’t always followed or is perverted to the point where it isn’t recognizable any more and true justice often does not prevail – but thanks to 24 hour cable news we can constantly be reminded of all these failures on a scale never seen before.

And there’s no shortage of people willing to tell us that they know how to “solve” all these problems – they can bring order and justice and resolve all these conflicts – if we will only put them in power over us. For most of us though – we don’t claim to be able to fix all of these problems. Just some of them – if we were in charge of these things. And we wonder why God can’t seem to take care of even our “little” problems. Some wonder if God even exists. Some claim He is dead. Some claim He never existed.

No matter which group we’re in – the “I can fix everything”, or the “I know how to solve that one issue”, or even the “I can’t take it any more and don’t know what to do” group – the questions that Habakkuk asks are the same questions that are on many people’s minds and lips (and blogs) today. And for all those asking “How long” or “Why don’t You listen” – there’s an implicit acceptance of one critical thing – that God in fact does exist. Reaching that first step can lead to further investigation. Habakkuk had no doubt that God existed. Obviously – I believe He exists as well. So why doesn’t God listen and how long will He put up with all the wrongs in the world? Or – are those the wrong questions?

Just to give a clue of what comes next, God does answer Habakkuk:

Hab 1:5 “Look at the nations and watch—
        and be utterly amazed.
        For I am going to do something in your days
        that you would not believe,
        even if you were told.

Uh Oh. That sounds pretty ominous.

And now – in the manner of TV drama and news alike – it’s time to say: “Stay tuned for more, after this break.”