Have you ever wondered why justice is so long in coming, or maybe you’ve concluded that it will never come? After all, what justice is there in a child being raped? Adding insult to injury, why do so many perpetrators remain “free,” while their victims live lives of quiet desperation battling ongoing PTSD, betrayal, and fear into adulthood? Why do family members sometimes believe the lies of perpetrators more than the tears of their innocent victims? Where is the justice in any of this? And even more importantly, where was God then and where is He now? We were taught in Sunday School that Jesus loves the little children. How do we reconcile this with our experience? What is a woman to do when the realities of her life no longer align with her understanding of God?
These are hard questions, the kind that make many people uncomfortable and may even seem sacrilegious. Nevertheless, God has never been opposed to hard, honest questions as long as we are willing to receive honest answers that transcend our current understanding. When the realities of life shook my foundations to the core, I left behind rote prayers and learned to talk to God in new ways from my heart. Sometimes there were no words, only tears. Other times there were waves of angry questions that begged a response. But, always there remained a belief that God is and that He rewards those who seek Him earnestly. I believe that God is honored when I pour out my heart to Him, drop all religious pretense, and allow Him to reveal Himself to me in new ways that are beyond the understanding of the child I once was.
Recently, during a time when I was hurting deeply and asking God hard questions like those above, He led me to study Habakkuk. Habakkuk was an Old Testament prophet. He too asked God hard questions. Habakkuk wondered, just as we sometimes do, “Why does God often seem indifferent in the face of evil?” and “Why do evil people seem to go unpunished?” He brought his questions directly to God, and God’s initial reply was shocking. He told Habakkuk that things were about to get much worse! Has that not been my experience too? Things got much worse in my life in the aftermath of sexual abuse. Habakkuk continued to question God: “Why are you silent while the wicked swallow up those more righteous than themselves?” Habakkuk then did a very wise thing—he refused to harden his heart and positioned himself to listen, choosing to wait for God to speak again. He listened for God’s answer rather than allowing his complaints to turn into bitter judgments against God. Habakkuk, like all of us, really hoped for justice!
God again answered Habakkuk. He agreed with him that his oppressors were indeed very wicked, and He assured him that a day was coming when justice would be served! God said a very interesting thing in Habakkuk 2:11: “The stones of the wall will cry out, and the beams of the woodwork will echo it.” Remember those times that you thought no one witnessed your abuse? God says the very buildings where the crimes occurred will cry out for justice! Even if we have no human ally to seek justice for us, the creation itself will someday witness against those who harmed us!
Habakkuk began to understand that justice is not a question of God’s care and concern. Rather, justice is a question of God’s perfect timing that encompasses a plan much larger than our own. The question then becomes, “Do I really believe that God saw all, heard all, and will someday judge all regardless of what circumstances currently indicate or what anyone else thinks? Can I trust Him even when justice appears to be delayed?”
In our questioning, God invites us to know Him more intimately, as we learn to walk by faith. He assured Habakkuk that there is a day coming when the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord (i.e., when all need for questions will cease) as the waters cover the sea. God gave Habakkuk a fresh revelation of His intention to judge evil and make things right again in His own timing.
Once Habakkuk understood this, his painful questions turned into patient trust in the midst of difficult circumstances. He realized that his strength was in God alone, and his perspective changed from that of a helpless victim demanding answers from God, to that of a victor-in-waiting trusting God as his ultimate answer. Have you also become a victor-in-waiting?