How Long, O Lord?

Like a lamb led to the slaughter, or a sheep before the shearers, He was silent and uttered no cry. (Is. 52)

The sufferings of this world are as numerous as its sins.  Each day brings more and more it seems; the weight of it crushing our souls.  The greatest evil, and the most difficult suffering to bear, is the suffering of the innocent.  

On April 5th, U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley addressed the UN Security Council about the Assad regime’s chemical attacks against its own people in Syria.  She said, “Yesterday we awoke to pictures of children; foaming at the mouth, suffering convulsions, being carried in the arms of desperate parents.  We saw rows and rows of lifeless bodies, some still in diapers, some with visible scars of a chemical weapons attack.  Look at those pictures!  We cannot close our eyes to those pictures.”  A cry of helplessness rises in one’s heart, “How long, O Lord!”

“How long, O Lord, must I cry for help and you do not listen?  Or cry out to you ‘Violence!” and you do not intervene?  Why do you simply gaze at evil? Destruction and violence are before me; there is strife and discord.” (Hab. 1: 1-3)

The suffering endured by the innocent is utterly incomprehensible. We could harden our hearts and turn away our face from what is happening–numb our minds, and anesthetize our unpleasant thoughts with distractions. Or we may fall to our knees and ask God the same question that atheists mockingly ask of Christians; the same question the prophet Habbakkuk asked of God in faith:

“Are you not from of old, O LORD, the holy God, immortal?   LORD, you have appointed them for judgment, O Rock, you have set them in place to punish! Your eyes are too pure to look upon wickedness, and the sight of evil you cannot endure.  Why, then, do you gaze on the faithless in silence while the wicked devour those more just than themselves?”  (Hab. 1:12-13)

“How long O Lord!” we will cry. And no answer is heard The response will be, as it was from the Lamb of God on the Cross–silence.  There are no other questions.

“I know now, Lord, why you utter no answer.  You are yourself the answer.  Before Your Face questions die away.  What other answer would suffice?” –C.S. Lewis (Till We Have Faces)

Pieta by Carlo Cavelli

 

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