When Violence Thrives and God is Hidden
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 idly 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.-- Habakkuk 1:2-4 (ESV)
There a number of biblical texts which are pretty standard fare in the pro-life realm. Habakkuk is not one of them. In fact, until coming back to it this last week, I didn't know of any abortion-related application at all. I see it pretty clearly now, though.There are essentially two ways that actively pro-life Christians can view God's involvement with abortion. The first view holds that God hates abortion, He desperately wants to end it, but needs more time and effort from his people. The second view holds that God hates abortion, He could end it today with a thought, but has, so far, chosen not to. The first view is definitely more manageable and easier to rationalize, but the second view, for all the potential problems it creates, is the biblical one. We could find some artificial comfort in the notion that the only reason evil continues to flourish in the world is because God hasn't been able to overthrow it yet, but this line of thinking is ultimately hopeless. If God is not sovereign, then we can have no assurance that the Bible is accurate or that His promise of salvation will ever come to fruition. We do much better to understand evil as something God allows and uses for His ultimate purposes rather than something that is completely beyond His control. This, of course, is easier said than done, and the prophet Habakkuk wrestled with this very same tension. The book of Habakkuk opens with a desperate plea of frustration, a cry which could very easily be our own as we face off with abortion. It could go like this.
O Lord, how long shall we cry for you to end abortion, and you will not hear? Or cry out for these unborn children and you will not save? Why do you make us see this iniquity, and why do you idly look at it? The destruction and violence of abortion is ever before us; strife and contention arise. So the law is paralyzed, and justice goes forth perverted.
The answer that Habakkuk receives back from the Lord is one we very much need to hear today. There are at least four crucial principles that we would do well to walk away with as we seek a proper perspective in our efforts to eliminate the injustice of abortion.
1) God is working in ways that are far beyond our comprehension (in Habakkuk's case, using a wicked nation as an instrument of judgment against the waywardness of Israel).
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.-- Habakkuk 1:5 (ESV)
2) Though wickedness may flourish for a time, it will all come to account.
Then they will sweep through like the wind and pass on. But they will be held guilty, They whose strength is their god.-- Habakkuk 1:11 (NAS)
3) Those who prosper from violence will forfeit their life.
Woe to him who gets evil gain for his house, to set his nest on high, to be safe from the reach of harm! You have devised shame for your house by cutting off many peoples; you have forfeited your life. For the stone will cry out from the wall, and the beam from the woodwork respond.-- Habakkuk 2:9-11 (ESV)
4) All the world will eventually sit in silence before the perfect righteousness of the Living God.
But the LORD is in his holy temple; let all the earth keep silence before him.-- Habakkuk 2:20 (ESV)
In one sense, God's answer to Habakkuk does very little to change the desperation of his current situation. In some ways, the extra knowledge of God's intentions make Habakkuk even more apprehensive: "I hear, and my body trembles; my lips quiver at the sound; rottenness enters into my bones; my legs tremble beneath me. Yet I will quietly wait for the day of trouble to come upon people who invade us." Habakkuk 3:16 (ESV)His conclusion, however, makes all the difference in the world.
Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. GOD, the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like the deer's; he makes me tread on my high places.-- Habakkuk 3:17-19 (ESV)
To summarize Habakkuk's final declaration: Though all around me things look bleak, I will rejoice in the God of my salvation. It was the appropriate response for Habakkuk and it is the appropriate response for us. Yes, we are called to love our neighbor (Luke 10:25-37), yes, we are called to rescue those being slaughtered (Proverbs 24:11), yes, we are called to expose injustice (Ephesians 5:11), but for all we're called to do, the outcome belongs entirely to the Lord (Proverbs 21:31).
Michael Spielman is the founder and director of Abort73.com. His book, Love the Least (A Lot), is available as a free download. Abort73 is part of Loxafamosity Ministries, a 501c3, Christian education corporation. If you have been helped by the information available at Abort73.com, please consider making a donation.