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Habakkuk 1:2 – How Long Shall I Cry for Help and You Will Not Listen?

Summary

If God is not attentive to injustice, there is no safety. The lament calls out for God's attention.

Analysis

The basis for Habakkuk's question goes back to the foundational story of Israel, the exodus. Exodus 2:23-25 is at the core of all lament. God hears the mourning and the cry of the enslaved and afflicted. The confession of faith has fundamentally asserted that when God looks upon the afflicted, God notices. And "noticing" means acting to deliver (Exodus 3 and following).

The logic of this confession means that if injustice and affliction persist, God is not paying attention. The question of "how long" arises from within this confession. The received tradition and confession assert that God notices and delivers. A lament demands that God act according to the confession--a confession shaped by God's past characteristic action. Biblical lament is an act of faith, not of depression, despair, or doubt.

Habakkuk 1:2

The Prophet’s Complaint


2Lord, how long shall I cry for help,
   and you will not listen?
Or cry to you ‘Violence!’
   and you will not save?

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10 February 2011

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