"O LORD, how long shall I cry, and thou wilt not hear! even cry out unto thee of violence, and thou wilt not save! Why dost thou show me iniquity, and cause me to behold grievance? for spoiling and violence are before me: and there are that raise up strife and contention. Therefore the law is slacked, and judgment doth never go forth: for the wicked doth compass about the righteous; therefore wrong judgment proceedeth."
Habakkuk also saw some of the things that we see now in the present days. It is very hard for anybody whose heart is turned from sin to righteousness to these things. Although he began in this note of spiritual complaint, "How long shall I cry and Thou wilt not hear! Why should you cause me to behold…" Sometimes when we see such things, we tend to get used to these things. What is the response of ordinary people? "Oh, we are only men, how can we expect righteousness? This is the way of the world." Why do God’s children complain? They have a burden and the hope for a better life. They know things need not continue like that. If we are faithful, our prayers will be heard and conditions will change. So we see Habakkuk praying for revival.
Habakkuk 2:20. So the Lord is not dead. He is there. He is saying vengeance is His, not ours. Very often we like to do what is God’s work alone. We like to surpass ourselves and enter into the realm of God. We say, "Why is God so silent? Why do the righteous suffer? Why does wrong judgment proceed?" Instead of fatality, utterances of faith should come out of our lives. We have the great statement in the second chapter. "…the just shall live by his faith.", Habakkuk 2:4. This faith makes us a loving force. My father used to tell me, tell us, of a little boy who lived very close to his father. As a little boy he heard my grandfather pray. He picked up those phrases and prayed wonderful prayers without knowing what they meant. Some people are developing that way. Are we going to be only those who know the theories? We have got the potential to do mighty things. God has given us enlightenment, the vision and the promises. But have we got the faith and the persistence? Here, we see in Habakkuk, that kind of faith. He did not give up. He did not say, "This is hopeless, this country is hopeless." He still cried for revival. He wanted to see the work of God renewed. Habakkuk 3:2,3. It is not right to be talking only of what took place ten years ago. That is not real Christianity. You must be talking of what happens to-day. "Revive Your work in the midst of the years." It means continually to see more revival. I feel so sad, that some people are good intellectual Christians. Christian habits are there. Bible reading is there. Going alone for prayer is there. But there is not vital faith. There is not that overcoming life. Is it not a very serious situation? If I had settled down to a defeated Christianity I would never have grown in the Lord. If you are excusing yourself in defeat, that is not vital faith at all. Vital faith breaks through. God must create changes. There may not be even a palm of man’s hand in the sky. But the showers must come. The blessing must come. That is faith. How many times Elijah sent his servant to look at the sky. There is no cloud. "Oh no, no, no, you must go and see again." He sent him seven times. Suppose you were that servant. Maybe you stopped after the third time murmuring about having to give the same answer: what would have happened? Elijah’s prayer would have been interrupted. He would have gone himself to see the horizon. But the servant went seven times and came back with the message, "I see a cloud as the palm of a man’s hand on the horizon." Elijah said, "That is enough. Let us warn Ahab." I hear the sound of abundance of rain. How can a little bring such a deluge? Let us look at practical things. Everyone has to learn to overcome. There is no exception, God will teach us to overcome. Only we must not short circuit our own prayers by allowing sin in our lives. We must be very careful. We must put away sin. There must not be anything that hinders prayer and faith.
When we come under the word of God, it must work on us deeply. My work in the early retreats was just prayer. I used to carry the boxes of the arrivals to their rooms and making a note of the number of people for the rationing authorities. We had rationing in those days. For the rest it was all prayer. Not a minute was wasted. Not an unnecessary word was spoken. A retreat was so precious. When we heard the Word, it brought such inspiration. Much prayer went up for the work. We never had such situations, where some young people sat under a shady tree and talked something else. We never had such things in those days. People used to gather together and pray. Soon there was revival and God’s works seen amongst us. It must be so always with us.