Reflection for Today ▶️ ⏩ ⏹️
Perplexity, by Miquel Angel Pintanel
The burden which Habakkuk the prophet did see. O Lord, how long shall I cry, and thou wilt not hear! even cry out unto thee of violence, and thou wilt not save!
— Habakkuk 1:1-2
God is perplexing. God's ways are perplexing. Faith in a perplexing God with perplexing ways is even more perplexing. For Habakkuk this perplexity felt like a burden, as it does to many today. When we lose a loved one, or when there is a natural disaster, a terrorist attack, another school shooting or any mindless violence ending in death the faithful balk. Why God, why? they ask. Why me, why her, why them, why us? We are perplexed because we still have the primitive idea that God is some kind of micro-manager, supervising and controlling every action and interaction, doling out rewards and punishments to each of his reports as he sees fit. This is not God's way though. If it were there would be nothing for us to do, ever, we'd be parts of a great machine, with no thought, no ideas, no mind. No life.
The God of Abraham is not such a God. He is a God of love and release. Humans are on this earth as stewards. We are trusted to do the right thing, for the earth, and for one another. So often we stray—so very often in fact that the straying behaviour begins to feel normal. Our disasters, our wars, violence, hatred are all things we have made with our straying behaviour. We are lured off the path towards wealth, and we take from others to achieve this end. We are lured by power, and we destroy people, cities and whole nations to get it. There's nothing perplexing about it, in fact it is very simple to achieve clarity: we follow God's law. That's it.
Habakkuk starts in perplexity, but he quickly figures this out, as did all the other prophets. Perhaps, really Habakkuk knows this all along, but wants us, the reader, to think more deeply about the question. Why are we perplexed? We are perplexed because we do perplexing things. We misalign with God, look at the world upside down, and then blame God for the perplexity. It's another case of look to thyself.