Text of the Week
This week’s Unlikely Hero is someone from the Bible you may not have heard of, whose name you can’t pronounce even if you have (even though his portrait is found among the stained-glass windows in your sanctuary): Habakkuk, the 8th “minor” prophet of Israel.
Habakkuk, who lived in the 7th century before Christ, about whom almost nothing is known, was a minor prophet only in the sense that his book was short (3 chapters), not in the sense that what he had to say was unimportant. On the contrary, it was so important that Habakkuk’s words have resounded through the centuries to people of faith, including to such religious lights as St. Paul and Martin Luther. And what did he say? Among other things: “The just (righteous) shall live by their faith (faithfulness.)”
If you have ever said, “How long, O Lord?” - if you have ever expressed frustration with God at the state of affairs in the nation or in your life - you’ll want to hear what Habakkuk has to say about that this Sunday. – David Haley
Things you didn't learn in Sunday school...
One of the things you probably did learn in Sunday School was never to express doubt or “question” God. So it came to be that most of us kept our mouths shut, never expressing doubt in the unbelievable things we were hearing (Jonah and that whale?) or the disconnect between what we hearing and what we were experiencing in our lives. Wasn’t the Golden Rule really that “Those who have the gold make the rules?”
And yet, one of the most distinctive things about the Hebraic tradition of faith is that not only did they feel unconstrained to show their saints and heroes with warts and all (as you have seen in the Unlikely Hero series), but that those saints were also often outspoken in their arguing with and questioning of God. Whether it was Job in his sufferings, Abraham and Sarah in their questioning, Moses or Jeremiah in their calling, or even Jesus (“My God, why have you forsaken me”) none of them were shy in occasionally shaking their fist or raising their voices to God.
The prophet Habakkuk is firmly in this tradition:
O Lord, how long shall I cry for help, and you will not listen? Or cry to you “Violence!” and you will not save? Why do you make me see wrongdoing and look at trouble? Destruction and violence are before me; strife and contention arise. So the law becomes slack and justice never prevails. The wicked surround the righteous — therefore judgment comes forth perverted.” (Habakkuk 1: 2 – 4)
Never be hesitant or afraid to express doubt or ask questions, not even to God. Not only is it part of our religious tradition, it is how we grow, both in faith and reality. – David Haley