Conflict abounds; that was Habakkuk's appraisal of the situation in his day. Many Christian doctors today would identify with Habakkuk's feelings. As they survey the political discussion on the future of the NHS, they ponder on what kind of health service they will be working in when the dust finally settles. What will be the implications for patient care, especially the elderly, those suffering from terminal illness and other disadvantaged groups? Most are already suffering the consequences of the erosion of resources available for their care following previous governments' 'reforms'.
On a not completely unrelated front, many will be concerned by the deterioration of the moral framework that has seen this country jump to the forefront of liberal policies and attitudes to abotion and human embryo experimentation, as well as the unrelenting pressure for legalisation of euthanasia and assisted suicide. The formidable resources and aggression of the secularising campaign will remind some of the description of the Babylonian forces, 'that ruthless and impetuous people, who sweep across the whole eearth ... they are a law to themselves and promote their own honour. (1)
As we face such challenging and confusing times, the future can seem bleak but so it was for the prophet when he took his concern directly to God. It is worth noting God's perspective as he answers: 'the revelation awaits an appointed time... Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay'. (2) This categorical assurance is followed by a clear, objective appraisal of the enemy forces, (3) exposing the moral bankruptcy and self-defeating consequences of their beliefs and behaviours. The opponent may seem powerful, self-assured and even pretend ownership of the high ground, whether that might be political, scientific or humanistic. God is not impressed by what he sees there and his judgement is devastating. 'You will be filled with shame instead of glory. Now it is your turn! Drink and be exposed!' (4)
We can sometimes lose perspective and be tempted to think that God is not that interested in our society and that our efforts should concentrate on simply maintaining our own integrity towards him. This leaves us feeling somewhat isolated and powerless to influence or even expose what is going wrong around us. But the resulting ghetto mentality is challenged by Habakkuk who looks beyond circumstances to see the greater force at his side, allowing him to pray: 'LORD, I have heard of your fame; I stand in awe of your deeds, O LORD. Renew them in our day, in our time make them known,; in wrath remember mercy.' (5) His review of the historical record shows him, and us, that God's purposes are always accomplished. This allows him to conclude that however bad or uncertain things may look, (6) God's enemies will always be defeated and he will vindicate his people in accomplishing the work he as called them to. 'The Sovereign LORD is my strength, he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to go on the heights.' (7)