Texts: Habakkuk 1:1-4, 2:1-4; Luke 19:1-10
It is hard when reading or hearing Habakkuk not to identify with the prophet and his times. The anguish of historical living, or living in time, is that each one of us is endowed with a sense of justice and fairness, but often we must live with and face so much injustice that seems unchangeable or beyond our ability to change. Who among us is not affected by the relentless negative political ads that have invaded the airways in the last month? Or the all-too-familiar reports of terrorists threats? Or the violence within our own communities of children and spouses killing one another? Who isn’t affected by the reality that the Iraq War now has caused hundreds of thousands, and maybe millions, of people to become displaced from their homes? Or the increasing numbers of people in the world who are dying from hunger? Or the staggering unemployment rates all across our nation? Who among us has not wanted to lament with Habakkuk, “O Lord, how long shall I cry for help, and you will not listen? Or cry to you ‘Violence!’ and you will not save?” On the face of things, it can seem that “the law has become slack and justice never prevails.” Habakkuk’s complaint is strikingly like that of the prophets before him and those who have come after him. He voices a prayer that could be sung by any of us who have called out in earnest for God but have felt that God was absent, distant, or not interested in the prayer.