Wednesday, December 9, 2015

The Eleventh Day of Advent: Two Habakkuks at Breakfast

Though feeling a bit “under the weather” this morning, I did not want to miss the opportunity to be treated to breakfast by my friend, Vernon.  I filled in for him when he was ill and he promised me a breakfast or two.  As we talked together I soon realized that we were just like Habakkuk, the Old Testament prophet (605 B.C.).  We are both tormented  and distressed by the present rhetoric and prejudices being expressed in our society.  How can this kind of stuff prevail after our historical experiences of two World Wars in which we mistreated our German, Japanese and other U.S. citizens?  How is it that we are saying so many derogatory things that are reminiscent of those earlier times?  Why are some capitalizing on fear? We agonized over the fact that churches are not speaking out loudly enough.  And then the big question:  Why is it that God seems to tolerate such a repeat of history? Habakkuk felt the same.  Like Vernon and I, he asked, “How can this be?  How long will it go on?   Why is it going on?

Habakkuk prayed for an explanation and didn’t get one!  The darkness in the world gets darker.  The anguish in the heart goes deeper and the abhorrent “stuff” continues.  But Habakkuk didn’t give up.  He decided to wait for another encounter with God and for a more comprehensive answer to his questions:
“I will take my stand to watch
And station myself on the tower,
And look forth to see what He will say to me,
And what I will answer concerning my complaint 
(Habakkuk 2:1)

God’s answer will happen, Habakkuk affirms, and “if it seem slow, wait for it.”  Habakkuk had the power to wait and “in the fulness of time” he encounters God (not his faith in God, not his belief in God—but the living God).  In this encounter Habakkuk discovers that even though the world may be dismal, GOD IS IN IT!
“Though the fig tree do not blossom,
Nor fruit be on the vines,
The produce of the olive fail
And the fields yield no food,
The flock be cut off from the fold
And there be no herd in the stalls,
Yet I will rejoice in the Lord
I will joy in the God of my salvation 
(Habakkuk 3:17-18).”

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