Habakkuk couldn’t understand why his country had been taken over by Iraq (called Babylon in those days). After all, they were counting on promises from God that they would be his special people and he would look after them. And so in today’s reading we hear him complaining that God is powerless or, at best, that he doesn’t care.
Today our television screens are equally full of pictures from modern-day Babylon. Suicide bombers, roadside bombs, people cruelly cut down at the whim of others who crave power or have a warped sense of religion. Sometimes it can seem overwhelming and our minds cannot cope with the enormity of the horror.
On a different level we can find our own lives taking a direction that we don’t want them to. We might lose our job, find ourselves unable to make ends meet, suffer the death of a loved one or the breakdown of a marriage. All these are stressful events that can leave us reeling.
If our view of God is mechanical then we can blame him. Why doesn’t God appear on his white horse with a magic wand and stop all these things from happening? Why doesn’t he make the world a better place? If God exists then why does he allow earthquakes and famines? Why do innocent children continue to suffer?
But maybe our view of God goes further than this? Maybe we see a God who has created us with the freedom to behave as we choose. Perhaps God would be doing violence if he interfered every time we made mistakes, every time we turned our back on our own humanity and treated others inhumanely.
Maybe our God is one who in Jesus Christ has established a Kingdom on earth that is in process of being completed and that requires our gradual compliance and understanding. Could our purpose for existing as humanity be to discern the will of God and his purpose for history? Could it be that a God who overrode our decisions and the patterns of nature would be nothing more than a puppeteer, pulling our strings and making us think that we were making the decisions? Is it conceivable that God is able to bring good from what seems to us like pure disaster?
When we create havoc in our own world, and when catastrophes strike, it is easy to blame God. But maybe we have to take a closer look at what we think God is.