Habakkuk 1:1-4; 2:1-4 (NRSV)
Chapter 1The oracle that the prophet Habakkuk saw. Verse 2O Lord, how long shall I cry for help, and you will not listen? Or cry to you "Violence!" and you will not save? Verse 3Why do you make me see wrong-doing and look at trouble? Destruction and violence are before me; strife and contention arise. Verse 4So the law becomes slack and justice never prevails. The wicked surround the righteous- therefore judgment comes forth perverted.
Chapter 2I will stand at my watchpost, and station myself on the rampart; I will keep watch to see what he will say to me, and what he will answer concerning my complaint. Verse 2Then the Lord answered me and said: Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so that a runner may read it. Verse 3For there is still a vision for the appointed time; it speaks of the end, and does not lie. If it seems to tarry, wait for it; it will surely come, it will not delay. Verse 4Look at the proud! Their spirit is not right in them, but the righteous live by their faith.
My insides were doing somersaults as I sat with my wife inside a dimly lit office in a Tashkent (Uzbekistan) subway station. Two military officers had detained us. We looked "foreign." They asked for our passports and why we were in their country. I said, "I am an English teacher from the United States." One of them quickly asked, "Oh, you're American. Where is your gun?" I snapped in anger at this unfounded judgment!
We had done nothing to draw attention to ourselves; it was based only on our appearance. It wasn't fair. It wasn't "just." But because we were from the U.S., we were released. Were our cries for help answered? Now, returned to the U.S., do I turn a deaf ear to the cries for help? Am I numb to the violence on my phone and TV? Maybe the Lord is imploring me to listen.
God of justice, guide us in times of fear, and grant us courage to stand up for the oppressed. Surround us with strength when all hope feels lost. In your name we pray. Amen.