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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Wednesday, October 2, 2019           

Today’s Scripture Reading | Habakkuk 1:1–4, 2:1–4

The oracle that the prophet Habakkuk saw. 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 wrong-doing 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.

I will stand at my watchpost, and station myself on the rampart; I will keep watch to see what he will say to me, and what he will answer concerning my complaint. Then the Lord answered me and said: Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so that a runner may read it. For there is still a vision for the appointed time; it speaks of the end, and does not lie. If it seems to tarry, wait for it; it will surely come, it will not delay. Look at the proud! Their spirit is not right in them, but the righteous live by their faith. (NRSV)

Reflection
Destruction and violence are before me;
strife and contention arise.
 . . . judgment comes forth perverted.

I can’t imagine how the prophet Habakkuk’s words could feel more relevant than they do in Chicago in 2019. The risk of becoming numb to the “strife and contention” around us is real, as we are, every day, pummeled with news of another young person killed violently, another mass shooting in a school or mall or place of worship, another natural disaster that scientists tie to climate change. It is so tempting to pick up a book instead of the newspaper or watch a sitcom instead of the news.

Write the vision; make it plain.
If it seems to tarry, wait for it.
 . . . the righteous live by their faith.

Neither can I imagine a clearer or timelier response from our God. Engage with the world as it is; think about it, write about it, speak about it. But do not lose hope in the world as I created it to be. Be in right relationship with God, neighbor, creation. In the words of Pope Paul VI, “If you want peace, work for justice.”

Prayer
How long, O Lord? Grant me a righteous spirit, plain words, and tireless faith so that I may love the world as you do and participate in its healing. Amen.

Written by Susan Quaintance, Director, Center for Life and Learning

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