How Long?

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. So the law is paralyzed, and justice never goes forth. For the wicked surround the righteous; so justice goes forth perverted.
Habakkuk 1:2–4
How Long?
Addressing God directly, Habakkuk demands to know how long the Lord, who promises to hear the prayers of believers, will remain silent. Not unlike Job, the prophet cries, “Violence!”, but his prayer for deliverance goes unanswered. Trouble and angst settle deep into the heart of the prophet as God seems to tolerate iniquity and wrong, obvious wrongs such as destruction, violence, strife, and conflict continue unabated, and God does nothing about it. The land is covered in sin. Habakkuk echoes the sentiments of many faithful people of God who wonder why God does not deal immediately and directly with the evil that surrounds them. From the prophet’s perspective, the law has become ineffective because of the Lord’s failure to act. He experiences firsthand the oppressive policies of Jehoiakim, king of Judah, and he feels surrounded by unchecked evil because of failure to enforce God’s Law. Habakkuk grumbles against God. Just as we grumble against God when our prayers are not answered according to our timeframe. It behooves us to remember that God hears our prayers and that, though we struggle when facing life’s perplexing questions, nothing can separate us from His love. A love so profound that God gave His only Son to die for us. His innocent blood cleansed our sin-soaked souls. Therefore in times of struggles and pain, we wait patiently as God carries out His will in our lives in His own good time.
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