“O LORD, how long…?!”
“Deliver Us From Evil,” by Shin Maeng
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 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.
These words from the prophet Habakkuk express the cry of many hearts right now. From Prince William County to Washington, D.C. to Buffalo, New York, to Laguna Woods, California to Mexico City to Nigeria to Afghanistan to Ukraine…. Daily we are buffeted by the news of injustice and suffering, violence and death. I am grateful that Scripture does not shy away from confronting these bitter realities. The histories, prophets, letters, and psalms remind us that God sees, hears, and enters into these realities, and they direct us to cry out to him in lament and intercession. A friend of mine wrote these words just yesterday:
[T]he psalmists pray repeatedly for justice in light of such violent acts because they understand that a world full of broken people and sin-warped conditions results in destructive powers that damage a world which God so loves, and they plea repeatedly to the God-of-the-Angel-Armies to set things right. (The Rev. Dr. W. David O. Taylor)
I encourage you to read the rest of David’s blog post, especially since he provides a variety of prayers that he has composed entitled, “Prayers for a Violent Word.” Choose a few of them to shape your prayers over the next several days. Or open your Bible to the psalms, and pray your way from Psalm 52 through Psalm 63.
Even as you join with the Holy Spirit’s groans in the midst of “the sufferings of this present time” (Romans 8:18-28), remember the Lord’s response to Habakkuk’s words:
Look among the nations, and see;
wonder and be astounded.
For I am doing a work in your days
that you would not believe if told.
Our awesome Father in heaven is ever-at-work in the midst of the awful things occurring among his creation on earth, redeeming, restoring, renewing. The greatest evidence of this Truth is what we continue to celebrate this Easter Season: The Resurrection of the One who enters the awful depths of our unjust, violent, dying world. “What we believe is this: If we get included in Christ’s sin-conquering death, we also get included in his life-saving resurrection. We know that when Jesus was raised from the dead it was a signal of death-as-the-end. Never again will death have the last word. When Jesus died, he took sin down with him, but alive he brings God down to us” (Romans 6:8-10, The Message).
As always, you are welcome to join us in prayer on “Thursdays at the Office” (see below), as well as for our Sunday gatherings. I look forward to interceding and worshiping with you.
Your Pastor in the Resurrected Christ,
P.S. Remember you are invited to join us on May 25 at 2pm at our Mission Outpost and Worship House (7075 Hoadly Road) to inscribe Scriptures and prayers on the sanctuary floor. Wear closed-toe shoes and ok-to-get-dirty clothes, and park in the parking lot. We won’t be able to tour the whole building, but we will get to enjoy the nave and sanctuary. Please be responsive to the guidance of Jeff, the job site superintendent, as he ensures our safety and the safety of the building.