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How long, O Lord!?

Posted by Dr. Wade Smith on

“How long, O Lord, will I call for help, and you will not hear? I cry out to You, ‘Violence!’ Yet You do not save.” And so began the oracle of the prophet Habakkuk.

He continued his lament to the Lord, “Why do You make me see iniquity, and cause me to look on wickedness? Yes, destruction and violence are before me; strife exists and contention arises.”

Can you relate to the pain and despair of Habakkuk? Destruction and violence all around. Senseless deaths! Mounting racism! Religious extremism! Sexual victimization! Political scorn! Evil! Hatred! O Lord, will You not hear our cries?

We are hurting. We are broken. We are afraid. We are angry. Why must we look upon such iniquity and wickedness?

Like Jesus on the cross, we feel forsaken! How long until You hear, O Lord? How long until You save us?

The cries of Habakkuk to the Lord not only offered him a release, they also positioned him to hear from the Lord: “Be astonished! Wonder! Because I am doing something in your days—you would not believe if you were told.”

This unexpected word of the Lord in the midst of the violence led Habakkuk to declare, “the righteous will live by faith.”

How will you choose to live? In the aftermath of Orlando, Baton Rouge, St. Paul, and Dallas we must choose. Will we choose the path of violence and let hatred and revenge be our guide? Tragically, some have chosen this path. Or, will we choose the path of the righteous, letting faith, hope and love guide us?

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. declared that “hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. Hate multiplies hate, violence multiplies violence.”

Jesus tells us to love and pray for our enemies. Romans 12 instructs us to never repay evil with evil or to take our own revenge. Rather, evil is to be overcome and defeated by good.

When violence occurs, we must grieve with the hurting, seek justice for the victim, and respond to each other with love and goodness.

The healing of our nation will not be accomplished through violence and hatred. Our healing will only be found in a mutual love that is demonstrated through justice (righteousness) and compassion for all.

Finally, are we open to the amazing possibility that in response to recent violence God is working to bring peace between the races, the religions, the sexes, and the politicians? God’s work redeems and transforms. We need both! Without this hope, we are left to despair.

Have you cried out to the Lord? If not, maybe it is time to unpack and release your brokenness and emotions to Him. In the midst of your tears, fears and despair, allow Him to speak comfort, peace and hope over you. Receive God’s love and grace. Embrace the possibility that God is initiating something new. Practice faith, hope and love and be part of God’s unbelievable response to the violence in our land.

At the height of Jesus’ forsakenness on the cross, God was saving the world. Let us not discount what God is doing today. I suspect we would not believe it, even if we were told.