The Righteous Shall Live By Faith

“We don’t see justice, but we know that it is coming.”

That is what Pastor McGuire said to us yesterday in our Wednesday morning Bible class. We have been studying the minor prophets, and yesterday was our turn to read Habakkuk. “O LORD, how long shall I cry for help, and you will not hear?  Or cry to you ‘Violence!’ and you will not save?” Habakkuk complains to the Lord for himself and for the people of Israel who, conquered years before by the Assyrians, are suffering under the hand of their oppressors.

The Lord’s response? “I am raising up the Chaldeans, that bitter and hasty nation.”

What?! I can just imagine Habakkuk’s self-righteous feelings of injustice at the Lord’s answer to his prayer for deliverance. Really, Lord? That’s your answer? You are going to send the Babylonians to conquer the Assyrians? No doubt, Habakkuk’s idea of true justice would have been for the Lord to raise up the Israelites to conquer their oppressors themselves, not to replace the violent Assyrians with an even more dreaded and fearsome nation.

Habakkuk complains a second time to the Lord. “You who are of purer eyes than to see evil and cannot look at wrong, why do you idly look at traitors and remain silent when the wicked swallows up the man more righteous than he?” Preach it, Brother! I confess, I have often felt similar feelings of injustice when unwed mothers and promiscuous teens get pregnant time and time again while my husband and I have still not been able to conceive in our marriage of nine years.

And, then, in one fell swoop, the Lord knocks all of us off our self-justice-seeking soapboxes with His answer to Habakkuk: “The righteous shall live by faith.”

When we read these words in class yesterday morning, I had a hard time fighting back the tears. Those words punched me and hugged me all at the same time. “The righteous (that’s me, a baptized child of God, beloved daughter made right by Christ) shall live by faith.” My response to life – to the injustices, the crosses, the unwed mothers, the failed pregnancies – is faith in God’s justice for me, not in what I think is best. Like Habakkuk and all of Israel suffering under the hand of the Assyrians, I hear the Lord’s words and know that I am to trust in God’s plan, even if it includes some Babylonians.

For, God is trustworthy. We know how it works out for the Israelites. God sends a Messiah, Jesus Christ His own Son, to suffer and die on the cross to save all of us from that greatest of oppressors, Sin. I know, in Christ, that God loves me and deals with me graciously. I get to trust in and be comforted by God’s promises, knowing that He works all things, even an empty womb, for my eternal good. Faith is God’s precious gift to me, and I get to live by it.