Reflection for Today ▶️ ⏩ ⏹️
Shouting Bitterness by Naikos N
For, lo, I raise up the Chaldeans, that bitter and hasty nation, which shall march through the breadth of the land, to possess the dwellingplaces that are not their's.
— Habakkuk 1:6
Habakkuk requests—indeed, almost commands—judgment and righteousness to counter the violence and injustice he sees around him. God's response is to send even more violence and injustice in the form of the Babylonian army, well known for its abject brutality. Justice would follow—eventually, but in God's time, not Habakkuk's. God had figured that the leaders and citizens of Judah needed to fall much further before they would seek redemption for themselves. It wasn't enough to have a spokesman. The nation as a whole, each individual, needed to seek a different way.
We often think we know what we need to fix a current problem, but as the ancient middle eastern proverb reminds us, man plans, God laughs. A more recent proverb tells us, be careful what you pray for—you might get it! Habakkuk, so confident at the start of his book, finds that he doesn't know all he thought he knew. Maybe this sounds as familiar to you as it does to me. Caught up in our own wants and needs we can quickly lose sight of the bigger picture, letting our commanding self 1 run the show, rather than stepping into our observing self 2, and making more measured, thoughtful choices.
Habakkuk gets there. The book ends with his prayer of understanding and acceptance, beginning, O Lord, I have heard thy speech, and was afraid: O Lord, revive thy work in the midst of the years, in the midst of the years make known; in wrath remember mercy.3
Those last four words are perhaps both an observation of God's recent action, and a hope for his own—and our own—future behaviour.
1 This term comes from The Commanding Self by Idries Shah, 1997
2 This term, used to describe an innate human resource in the human givens approach to psychotherapy, is influenced by the work of Arthur J. Deikman, in particular his book The Observing Self: Mysticism and Psychotherapy, 1983
3 Habakkuk 3:2