Prayer and Perseverance
O Lord, how long shall I cry for help, and you will not hear? Or cry to you “Violence!” and you will not save? Why do you make me see iniquity, and why do you idly look at wrong? Destruction and violence are before me; strife and contention arise. So the law is paralyzed, and justice never goes forth. For the wicked surround the righteous; so justice goes forth perverted (Habakkuk 1:2-4).
Of all that we might learn from Habakkuk, let me mention two things. First, in the midst of the corruption and injustice of his own nation, Habakkuk prays. Abortion is so removed, so hidden, in the places it is carried out and in the language we use to refer to it, that it is easy for abortion to become an “issue.” Habakkuk sees evil, and prays like many in the Bible—heartfelt and urgent and loud. Look through the Psalms, or hear the prayer of the prophet Jeremiah: “O that my head were waters and my eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people” (Jeremiah 9:1). But we don’t weep. Most of us would rather hold a principled, informed stand on issues of life. Prophets weep.
Secondly, Habakkuk never gets the answer to his question. This is not unusual. “How long?” is a painful question that pervades the Scriptures (see, e.g., Psalm 13, 35, 79; Job). But Habakkuk does not lose heart. Although he hears that the Lord will bring judgment, he trusts that the Lord will once again be the savior of His people. How long? He is not told. Pro-life work can feel that way—hours and days and weeks and years, and yet death persists, and little progress seems to be being made. How long will it be this way? We are not told.
As always, the righteous shall live by his faith (Hab. 2:4).