Rottenness enters into my bones, and my steps tremble beneath me. I wait quietly for the day of calamity to come upon the people who attack us. Habakkuk 3:16
Habakkuk today echoes so many of the psalms, calling for calamity and ruin to fall upon the oppressor – those who attack us. I have always struggled with that idea of retribution and ruin for the ungodly.
When I was a child I imagined all the “bad” people of the world locked up and kept helpless and watchful as all the “good” people of the world made everything better. I would wonder how the wicked would feel, seeing all their evil undone, and the beauty of a world where only the good had power.
Well – I did mention that I was a child!
I laugh at that image now. It’s a close cousin to my childhood thoughts about Eve: “If only she hadn’t listened to the snake, everything would be different today!” It never occurred to me that any one of us might have been Eve; in fact, probably would have been (as we often are!).
I understand now that being human means being flawed and frail and subject to the lure of the apple. But still I struggle with retribution and ruin for the sinful. Perhaps that’s because I know the state of my own soul, and understand it’s all only a matter of degree. I still hope for change and not ruin – for transformation and not retribution.
I believe we can’t sit and wait for God to do all that changing and transforming though. God is waiting for us to be a part of that work. God is waiting for all of us to participate, and providing all that we need. Maybe some of us require a bit of ruin and retribution; I still hope the end of even that can be renewal. But I know that if the ills of the world are to be corrected, I must – we must – be part of that.
If ruin and retribution come upon us, it will likely be of our own making, or our own refusal to act upon God’s grace. There is no grace inwaiting quietly for the day of calamity to come. Not when God has given us the means to drive that day from our horizons.