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
I ask this question of God all the time. Maybe not in those exact words, but the question remains.
When will good prevail?
I know it will eventually, but what about today?
We just celebrated the holiest week on the Christian calendar. Such wide-ranging events, such wild swings of emotion:
- Jesus washing his disciples’ feet in a surprising act of servanthood. (Have you ever washed someone’s feet, or let someone wash your feet? It’s humbling, almost degrading.)
- Jesus crying out in anguish to his father, asking for the unfolding scenario not to happen. “… yet not what I want but what you want.” (Matthew 26:39)
- An unfair – and illegal – trial in the middle of the night. Jesus remained silent through most of it.
- The horrible crucifixion on Friday.
- Jesus’ life-altering resurrection on Sunday.
Wait a minute. There’s one day in that week where nothing seemingly happens. Only silence.
The day between the crucifixion and the resurrection.
Habakkuk wrote his essay about 600 years before Jesus lived, but he easily could have written it on that Saturday. Jesus promised that he would rise on the third day, but it hadn’t happened yet. There’s only the sorrow of death. Tomorrow hasn’t come yet. What about today? What do we do now?
In a very real sense, the year 2017 is taking place on Saturday. Yes, the resurrection has occurred, but the final victory hasn’t come yet. The Bible promises that it will. Eventually.
What do we do in the meantime?
In my personal journal, I concluded a Good Friday entry with this paragraph:
“It’s a nice day today, Father. I don’t feel it. Birds singing, flowers growing, window open, sun shining. A beautiful spring day. Where You die, and I sin. Sunday is coming. Eventually.”
When will good prevail? It already has, and still is. I often have a hard time seeing it, though.
It’s easy to focus on the negative, personally and globally, and live my life there. Sad. Frustrated. Disappointed. Angry, perhaps. Knowing that Sunday is coming, but not seeing it.
Our church gave us a Holy Week devotional that I found helpful. The Saturday entry includes this thought:
“The promise is clear: Jesus will rise. But the grief and pain are so overwhelming, nobody can hear the promise now. Nobody can remember the promise. Saturday is the day of such emotional pain, that it seems impossible to remember the promises of God. Isn’t it true that much of life is lived on “Saturday?” We’re so beleaguered by our circumstances that we forget what God has said … We doubt in the dark what God has said in the light … We cry out for help, but God does not listen.”
I get that. I put my head down when I’m jogging to watch for potholes and dog poop on the path, but I don’t see what’s ahead of me: a curve in the trail, deer in the woods, other walkers or joggers coming towards me. How far to the bridge over the river or to the overpass I’ll cross under? Am I paying attention?
My life expectancy and health give me another 30 or 40 years here on Earth. That’s a lot of Saturdays. Can I wait that long for Sunday?
The devotional continues this way:
Learning to live on Saturday is learning to exercise faith despite the pain, and clinging with all we’ve got to God and the promises he’s made. God will make good out of evil. God will bring joy out of mourning. God will bring light out of darkness. There will be a Sunday. Lord, I believe.
Habakkuk gets an answer from God to his plea:
“Look at the nations, and see!
Be astonished! Be astounded!
For a work is being done in your days
that you would not believe if you were told.”
- Habakkuk 1:5
Wow. Is that message relevant in 2017? Why not?
Sunday is coming. Sooner or later.
That gives me hope. I don’t have to live with Saturday’s pain.
None of us do. Sunday is promised. The resurrection is proof, and Jesus’ second coming is undeniable. No one knows when that will happen.
Until then, it’s Saturday.
Good and evil co-exist. We need discernment to discover which is which. Sometimes it’s obvious, sometimes it isn’t. Searching for good when evil often reigns is the definition of Saturday.
It can be done, but it’s hard.
I’m ready for Sunday.
I’ll conclude this essay with the final thought of the Bible:
“The one who testifies to these things says, ‘Surely I am coming soon.’
Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!”
- Revelation 22:20