The prophet Habakkuk, in today’s First Reading, stresses the power of faith — he also gives us a clearer idea of what exactly faith is.
Habakkuk lived in the 6th century BC, when Israel had been conquered by the Babylonians and the majority of Jews had been deported. It was as if a hurricane, like Katrina, had swept over not just one city, but the entire country. Habakkuk is in the middle of it all, he sees the devastated city and countryside, strewn with corpses, burned and barren.
Habakkuk feels the pinch of poverty and destruction. And he does the most natural thing in the world: he complains to God about it:
How long, O Lord? I cry for help, but you do not listen!
Habakkuk’s prayer teaches us an important lesson: Having a strong faith doesn’t mean we won’t suffer and be confused in life. Faith doesn’t take away our crosses, but a strong faith does show us where to turn when the crosses come: to God, our all-wise, all-powerful, all-lovingFather.
God answers Habakkuk’s prayer.
He promises that he will act, that he will restore Israel’s fortunes. Though, he doesn’t give all the details. In fact, he even seems to imply that it may take longer than Habakkuk would like:
“If it delays,” God says, “wait for it.”
God shows that he is not aloof from our sufferings. He is watching over us, no matter what. He promises that if we continue to have faith in him, in spite of suffering and hardship, we “shall live”.
Faith isn’t a “trouble-free philosophy.” Faith is strength which endures — it’s the power to persevere through difficulties — the power that comes from knowing that our Father’s in charge.