By the Rev. Derek Scalia, Deacon
Presence of God
“O Lord, how long shall I cry for help, and you will not listen?” (Habakkuk 1:2)
This past week, a student group that I advise showed the film “Breakthrough.” This major motion picture tells the true story of a young person that fell through the ice and pronounced dead after more than an hour without breathing or any sign of a pulse. As his mother enters the hospital, she prays to God over her lifeless son. Suddenly with no medical interference, his heart begins to beat and shallow breathing revives the lifeless body. In just two short weeks after the accident, the boy walks out of the hospital fully recovered with no long-term health impairments. It is nothing short of a miracle.
This powerful film is a beautiful story of the power of God. There is no doubt that God was present in this miracle. However, this film also draws us into a deeper theological question. Why was this boy saved and not others? There are countless stories of innocent people facing unbearable hardships. There are even more stories of horrific diseases taking the lives of young and old alike. I am sure that countless prayers were offered to God during their moments of strife and suffering. Why were these prayers not answered to save their lives?
When we pray, we give ourselves to God for God to do what is best. As a person of faith, I cannot possibly explain or understand fully the complexity of God. I cannot easily explain why some are saved and others suffer. For ages, great theologians have struggled to explain these great questions of our faith.
In our Old Testament reading for this Sunday, the prophet Habakkuk shares an oracle that struggles with these questions. Lamenting over the pain, suffering, violence, and injustice around him, Habakkuk cries for the presence of God. However, instead of turning from God, Habakkuk leans into faith. “I 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” (Habakkuk 2:1).
I believe that this act of faith opened the heart of Habakkuk to receive the eternal hope in the message of the Lord. When the Lord answered him it was a message that said, “For 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” (Habakkuk 2:3). This message from the Lord is a reminder that the Lord is always with us, in the good and the bad. Even in our moments of distress, the message of the Lord is without delay. For the vision of God has never wavered.
Even within the midst of our own suffering or the suffering of the world, Scripture reminds us of the ever present Lord. Though I cannot explain all suffering and its existence, I do know that the Lord calls us all into servanthood to work for justice and to be a source of God’s healing mercy.
May the presence of the Lord always be known to you.
Our readings for this Sunday are HERE. Note that in ordinary time, we’re using the readings form Track 2.