IN THIS Sunday’s First Reading (Habakkuk 1:2-3; 2:2-4), the prophet was complaining to the Lord why, despite his persistent prayer, violence, destruction, strife, and discord kept prevailing in the Jewish society of his time. He must have been wondering why God seemed not to listen to his prayers. Obviously, God, who is good, must not be happy seeing evil. But what was taking him too long to intervene?
Oftentimes, do we not see ourselves in the same situation? We see wickedness around us and we implore God for justice – for evildoers to be punished, and for believers to be redeemed and protected. And when the answer to our prayer is out of sight, don’t we become frustrated and then ponder why God would allow disdainful things to happen?
God’s answer to Habakkuk finally came. God said, “For the vision still has its time. It presses on to fulfillment, and will not disappoint; if it delays, wait for it. It will surely come, it will not be late. The rash one has no integrity; but the just one, because of his faith, shall live (Habakkuk 2:3-4).”
A study of the entire book of Habakkuk will show the nature of the vision referred to, that is, in what form God answered Habakkuk’s prayer. There we will see that because of their sins the Jews were punished; they were invaded by the Chaldeans and were treated cruelly.
God is not sleeping – he is alive. His delay in executing judgment, as perceived in human terms, is never a delay in the Divine perspective. In 2 Peter 3, St. Peter explains, “...in the last days scoffers will come scoff, living according to their own desires and saying, ‘Where is the promise of his coming?’ From the time when our ancestors fell asleep, everything has remained as it was from the beginning of creation (v. 3-4).”
He continues, “Do not ignore this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years and a thousand years like one day. The Lord does not delay his promise, as some regard ‘delay,’ but he is patient with you, not wishing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (v. 8-9).
God wants everyone to experience not his wrath, but his love. What he requires of us is to have faith in him, for he, himself is faithful. He is a good Father who will not hand his son a snake when he asks for fish, or a scorpion when he asks for egg (Luke 11:11-12).
From him come all good things (James 1:17). Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame (Romans 10:11).
Like the apostles in the gospel (Luke 17:5-10), we ought to pray, “Lord, increase our faith.” If it does indeed increase, we have so much to gain, for in the very words of our Lord Jesus Christ, “If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you would say to this mulberry tree, 'Be uprooted and planted in the sea,' and it would obey you.”