1946 was a year of Polio in the United States. By August an epidemic was declared, bringing fear to neighborhoods all over the country as state fairs were canceled and public swimming pools were closed. A simple headache brought fear to the heart of the victim, starting a waiting game to see if it was Polio.
Less than one percent of those infected were paralyzed, yet it remained a possibility with every new case. Some were paralyzed from the neck down and required an iron lung to do their breathing, keeping them alive but confined to a room in a Polio ward. It wasn’t always a life sentence as some did recover, but others would spend the remainder of their life inside the breathing apparatus. There are still two Americans living in an iron lung today—victims of the disease 70 years ago.
Paralysis can take other forms beyond the physical. Some become so paralyzed by fear that they cannot do certain things. What about justice? Sometimes, justice can seem paralyzed, unable to prevail. The wait can be long.
The prophet Habakkuk experienced the long wait for justice. The Chaldeans were coming, and they were real bad guys! Their army was large, their horses strong. They were ruthless. Without God’s help, the people were doomed. Habakkuk cried out in distress; how long would the crooked way prevail?
O Lord, how long must I call for help before you will listen? I shout to you in vain; there is no answer. “Help! Murder!” I cry, but no one comes to save. Must I forever see this sin and sadness all around me? Wherever I look I see oppression and bribery and men who love to argue and to fight. The law is not enforced, and there is no justice given in the courts, for the wicked far outnumber the righteous, and bribes and trickery prevail. Habakkuk 1:2-4
Waiting on justice from God takes faith. His justice tends not to come as quickly as earthly justice, handed down in a court of law. There is much more involved in God’s plan, much that remains invisible to the earthly eye, but God’s timing is perfect. Habakkuk was willing to wait the rest of his life for God to “loosen” his answer if that was what it took:
Even though the fig trees are all destroyed, and there is neither blossom left nor fruit; though the olive crops all fail, and the fields lie barren; even if the flocks die in the fields and the cattle barns are empty, yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will be happy in the God of my salvation. The Lord God is my strength; he will give me the speed of a deer and bring me safely over the mountains. Habakkuk 3: 17-19
Waiting is a matter of faith. Will God have my trust? Will I wait for Him to release the answers I need? Faith believes that there is an answer, and that God is never late.