“How long, Lord, must I call for help, but you do not listen? Or cry out to you, “Violence!” but you do not save? Why do you make me look at injustice? Why do you tolerate wrongdoing?Destruction and violence are before me; there is strife, and conflict abounds. Therefore the law is paralyzed, and justice never prevails. The wicked hem in the righteous, so that justice is perverted.
“Lord, are you not from everlasting? My God, my Holy One, you will never die. You, Lord, have appointed them to execute judgment; you, my Rock, have ordained them to punish. Your eyes are too pure to look on evil; you cannot tolerate wrongdoing. Why then do you tolerate the treacherous? Why are you silent while the wicked swallow up those more righteous than themselves?” (Hab 1:2-4, 12-13; NIV)
This is a selected reading from Habakkuk chapter 1 verses 2-4, and 12-13. Written around 2,600 years ago, it could well have been written today following the tragedy that took place in Paris where more than 120 people were murdered as terror ripped through the heart of France. Compelled to write something in the light of recent events, nevertheless, I will seek to remain sensitive and brief in what follows.
In times like these we, like Habakkuk from so long ago, often struggle as we seek to reconcile the concept of a good, all-knowing, and all-powerful God who would permit the evil and suffering we experience in the world (theodicy). So, where is God to be found in the evil and suffering in the world? Right there in the middle of it. In suffering, God is with those who are suffering–caring for the broken hearted, binding their wounds, and saving the crushed in spirit (Psalm 34:18, 147:3).
God doesn’t say there will not be any storms in our lives, but has demonstrated that He will be there with us through the storm (Matthew 8:23-27). The concept of a good God does not depend on the absence of valleys, or shadows, or death. Indeed, we will experience these things in life as, “God makes the sun to shine on both the evil and the good, and causes it rain on the righteous and the unrighteous” (Matt 5:45). But with our hand in the hand of God, who never leaves or forsakes His people (Deuteronomy 31:6), He will guide us and lead us through the valley of the shadow death and, so, we need not fear suffering evil (Ps. 23:4).
With our hearts toward God and others, let’s continue to pray for peace, comfort, and restoration for the people in Paris, and that hearts and minds might be brought to the Lord as the presence of God becomes felt in their hour of need.