Those who follow the common lectionary are not often exposed to the writings of the Minor Prophets, but they are filled with gems. Serious students of scripture would do well to study them.
We know little about the minor prophet Habakkuk whose oracles are likely from the late seventh and early sixth century BC. We do know that Israel and Judah at the time were under foreign rule; the chosen people wondered where God was in this, their time of need. The prophet’s writings, complaints and questions, are answered with “God, the Lord, is my strength.”
From the Book of Habakkuk 2:1-4
I will stand at my watchpost, and station myself on the rampart; I will keep watch to see what he will say to me, and what he will answer concerning my complaint. Then the Lord answered me and said: Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so that a runner may read it. For there is still a vision for the appointed time; it speaks of the end, and does not lie. If it seems to tarry, wait for it; it will surely come, it will not delay. Look at the proud! Their spirit is not right in them, but the righteous live by their faith.
Truly, there is nothing new under the sun. Just as our ancestors in faith cried out to the Lord in their times of trial, millions cry out today with questions if not complaints. Graphic images of the miles long convoy of military equipment, video coverage of shelled homes and bombed out hospitals, and steams of women and children fleeing for safety are unmistakable signs not to be missed.
Try as we might to make sense of the senselessness, we are unable to do so. We do, however, look on in wonder as relief efforts abound and once again human generosity (divinely inspired, I believe) offers assistance and aid through financial and practical gifts.
The vision Habakkuk writes on tablets is to be so clear that even those in a hurry will read and understand. However, one still has to look for it.
Look to the signs – at a Polish border town’s railway station rows of strollers and baby carriages awaiting the arrival of refugee mothers and children; soldiers at the border of Belarus welcoming the same with lilies, the flowers of spring and hope for new life; townspeople welcoming strangers into their homes; children smiling and laughing, even playing, clutching a newly received stuffed animal. Mothers sighing with relief as they arrive at a safe place, shedding tears as they worry about their loved ones left behind.
Even in this age when a people are overwhelmed with information, these few signs are plain enough to see.
What’s not so plain, not so easily seen but even more heartening, are the signs of our faith that have been posted from the beginning of our faith story. Take heart in the story of the faithful; Abraham and Sarah, their descendants, the prophets, apostles, disciples, the women who found the empty tomb, and all who lived (and live) a righteous life.
Join the millions who offer signs, those who are in earnest prayer for peace in our time, for “God, the Lord, is our strength.”
Pastor Jim Faile