As lockdown continues, Marion Carson reflects on the need to continue watching and waiting on a faithful God.
When lockdown started, I wrote about the prophet Habakkuk and his experience of the world changing around him. In the Bible story, the Babylonians are rapidly advancing on the country and Habakkuk is terrified. Naturally, he wants God to do something and to do it quickly. But God remains silent and Habakkuk cries out, “How long, Lord, must I call for help?” (Habakkuk 1:2). God still does not reply. Habakkuk decides to watch and wait.
Over these last six weeks many of us have been doing just that – watching and waiting, wondering when it will all end. For some, life has become much busier than before while others are finding it tough to fill in the time. Some are enjoying the lockdown, relishing the slower pace of life and the opportunity for prayer and study. Others are suffering from ‘cabin fever’. People are worried about financial matters and job security and many are suffering greatly because they have lost loved ones or are unable to be with family members.
Whatever our experience we are all, in effect, watching and waiting – just like Habakkuk. We are certainly all still wondering, “how long?” How long till lockdown begins to ease? How long till a vaccine is found? How long till things can get ‘back to normal?’ We may be longing to hear a word of comfort from God, some assurance of His presence. Like Habakkuk, we are still standing on the watch tower.
In chapter 2 of Habakuk, God does speak to him. There is some reassurance. These things will end. The Babylonian empire is driven by pride, idolatry, greed and violence – and it is these very things which will bring about her downfall. Like every other empire throughout history, Babylon will collapse. The collapse will take some time and in the meantime a great deal of damage will be caused.
In the midst of the crisis God declares, “The righteous live by their faith.” (Hab 2:4).
Over these weeks as I have been watching and waiting, this verse has been sustaining me, as has this meditation on this passage from a book with the (rather weird!) title Habakkuk before Breakfast by Brian J. Walsh.
Keep faith, and you keep God.
Keep faith and you will see clearly.
Keep faith, embrace a righteous justice,
And the vision will open up to you.
Keep faith, hold each other in faith;
And we might just see hope on the other side of the catastrophe,
Hope on the other side of history.
God reassured Habakkuk that the Empire would fall eventually – as indeed it did. But while the trouble endured the people of God were to keep going, because of their faith. And the same must be true for us – we persevere because of what we know about God and His goodness, because we trust in His faithfulness and because He enables us to be faithful to Him. Our current crisis will eventually end too, but of course, we do not know when. In the meantime, let us keep faith.