By: Jon Meerdink
As a radio news reporter, it seems like sometimes my job amounts to nothing more than writing stories detailing the day to day behavior of the worst human beings in the world. In the last week alone I’ve written about a guy who murdered people at a temple, a dictator killing his own people, more drug and alcohol related arrests than I care to remember, and even a father and son tandem accused of stomping a puppy to death. But since I’m also on-air for most of the day, I can’t show any condemnatory reaction to these stories, lest I reveal some sort of bias to the audience. Day in and day out I read and write awful stories about death, murder, rape, and injustice, and the only thing I can do is keep pressing on without revealing any emotion.
To a certain extent, I think we Christians often end up doing the same thing. We see the world going down in flames around us, but we keep telling ourselves “God is in control.” And since God is in control, who are we to question or complain? Surely everything is happening for a reason, right? It’s as though we’re afraid that we’ll somehow seem ungrateful or like we’re second guessing God’s plan for the world, even by acknowledging that there’s something bad going onAnd I agree, in a sense. Yes, it’s God’s will. Yes, he’s in control. But just because something bad happens, that doesn’t mean we have to sit by and pretend like it didn’t.
Earlier this year, I was working through the latter half of the Old Testament on my journey through the Bible in a year. I admit, I’m not real familiar with most of the minor prophets, so when I came across Habakkuk I was mostly excited because it was a short book and I always felt like I was accomplishing something when I could knock out a whole book of the Bible in one day. But when I started to read, I was struck by how brutally honest the author is voicing his opinion on the world to God. From Habakkuk 1:
How long, O Lord, must I call for help,
but you do not listen?
Or cry out to you, “Violence!”
but you do not save?
Why do you make me look at injustice?
Why do you tolerate wrong?
Destruction and violence are before me;
there is strife, and conflict abounds.
Therefore the law is paralyzed,
and justice never prevails.
The wicked hem in the righteous
so that justice is perverted.
Habakkuk doesn’t pull any punches with God. In his time, Judah’s society was rotting from the inside to the point that God was about to send the entire country into exile. With idolatry and injustice rampant, things were amiss in Habakkuk’s world, and he pours out his heart to God without regard to God’s feelings. Habakkuk was not afraid that he was somehow violating God’s will by pointing out to God that things weren’t so great and that God really didn’t seem to be in a big hurry to fix it.
I think this is a good example for us in our broken modern world. Rather than remaining silent in the face of evil and injustice, we shouldn’t hesitate to cry out to God. Sure, we need to have our hearts in check when we offer up our prayers; I don’t deny that Christians can whine just as well as anybody. But as long as we recognize that things are screwed, I think it makes perfect sense to talk, or even complain, to the only one capable of truly fixing it.