Shekinah Glory

When God Is Silent


Sermon on Habakkuk 1:1-4, 2:1-4

The other day I was confronted again by humanity’s injustice to humanity on a rather grand scale. At Carol’s church an international human rights worker and labor leader talked about his trips to Burma and the current situation on the ground there. It is quite an amazing, surprising and compelling story of young Buddhist monks who turned their alms bowls upside down in protest against the leaders of the military Junta. These robed, bald men are committed to peace and the end of suffering. They marched from key religious site to key religious site and were permitted to pass by the democratically elected Aung San Suu Kyi who has been under various types of imprisonment by the military leadership since her election as Prime Minister in 1990. The recipient of the Nobel Peace prize she has fused the philosophy of Mahatma Gandhi with her own Buddhist traditions. You can see the danger that a democrat like her poses to business class oligarchs and a military government when she makes statements like:

It is not power that corrupts but fear. Fear of losing power corrupts those who wield it and fear of the scourge of power corrupts those who are subject to it.

Yet, in the midst of this repression there was the optimism for change. Buddhist monks marched through Rangoon’s streets and chanting “Peace, Peace, Peace!”

When the banner of a banned democratic Burmese student group was raised amongst the monks the iron fist of authoritarianism raised its ugly head. Between 700-1000 peaceful protestors were shot or beaten to death. Over 2,900 protesters join the 1000’s of political prisoners already in Burmese jails. Many of the dead, injured or refugees are the same peaceful monks who yearned for a society free from the harsh treatment that they received from those military leaders who would actually carry out the orders of their government. In the next 24 hours there were terrifying images being beamed from cell phone cameras and video’s smuggled out of Burma through the internet around the world. Bullhorns screamed for protestors surrounded on all sides by heavily armed military men to disperse. Long batons cracked over cowering heads of defenseless protestors. Real bullets were fired into crowds who had merely said the words “peace” and “Democracy.”

In the shower, during my private prayers I rail at God. “Where are you when such cruel injustices occur!” “If we cannot depend upon your beneficence in the face of such clear evil then what good are you!?” “Are our prayers falling fallow, is they’re anyone even listening to us!” “Darfur, Rwanda, Bosnia, Baghdad, Tibet…drought, Famine, AIDs, Cancer, Malaria and Dysentery? Why must the innocent suffer in the face of your silence?” They are words eerily similar to the prophet Habakkuk. His is only a long list of Old Testament prophets, philosophers and poets railing against the silence of their creator in the face of injustice. Like Jacob, we are called to wrestle with our God and demand of him a blessing.

God did however answer me. Do you think that the skies opened up and the secrets of almighty were lavished upon me, that a booming voice with an angelic chorus backing it explained the intricacies of the universe or maybe as I was walking someone whispered the solutions to suffering in my ears? No, I do not have such an elaborate connection with the almighty. Sometimes my reception is dim at best. Yet, I have been given a glimmer of our creator’s purpose through the words of the Lord through Habakkuk and a crowd of marching children. As I reflected on the words that Yahweh says through the prophet I was given a moments reprieve from my rage. To Habakkuk the Lord talks about an end, a vision of hope in the future that will surely come. Yet, instead of us waiting for some good in a future tense the Lord commends those who live. How do they live? They are made righteous by living by faith.

I grew up thinking that faith consisted of saying a simple prayer in which Jesus was a commodity. I ask for a piece of Jesus to come into my life, but the faith that Lord is advocating sounds active and alive. This faith requires walking, shouting, advocating, gleaning, feeding, holding, crying and loving.

Ask and Ye shall receive seek and ye shall find. As I returned from writing the first part of my sermon I saw a group of 50 children walking with a handmade banner held in front of them. On it read in bright red letters, “Help the Homeless!” I rolled down my window, honked and held out up a thumb to these young people living faith.

Faith is not passive “spirituality.” It is the groan of unmet expectations, the healing touch in the midst of suffering, it is righteousness lived by faith. This is not something that you can dial in. It takes more than a moderate attendance in worship services or writing gifts to charity, faith is the commitment to action. Who knows if any of us will ever be called on to suffer like the Burmese monks, but this doesn’t slacken our responsibility to the oppressed, poor, orphans, widows and suffering in our midst. We are responsible to live our faith and extend the presence of the creator through our good works.

Picture by falang_bah2002


9 Comments so far
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Evening Brian~

Boy…I hope to hell you use this as one of your Sunday sermons.


I too “rail” at God (not in the shower…but walking down the street like some crazy person).

But you know…I think He likes that.

Doesn’t seem as though the closer you get to God…the more “faith” comes into play? As my relationship to Him grows deeper…He wishes me to rely on Him more.

I become more powerful…because of my weakness.

To know faith…is to live faith, I guess.

It’s always a pleasure to stop by here, and feel your loving relationship with God.

Thank you Brian!


Comment by ron

[…] Sermon on Habakkuk 1:1-4, 2:1-4 The other day I was confronted again by humanitys injustice to humanity on a rather grand scale. At Carols church an international human rights worker and labor leader talked about his trips to Burma and the current situation on the ground there. It is quite an amazing, surprising and compelling story of young Buddhist monks who turned their alms bowls upside down in protest against the leaders of the military Junta. These robed, bald source: falang_bah2002.jpg […]

Pingback by falang_bah2002.jpg — Biography. writers and their biography


I increasingly find myself talking out loud to God. I had a friend once say, “was that in my head, or did that just come out of my mouth.” Sometimes I feel the same way with God.


Comment by pastorofdisaster

I haven’t been by here to visit in some time, Pastor. And this was just the best post in the world for me to find today. I just this morning posted something I was struggling with: Someone tried to tell me that bad ‘karma’ was heading my way because I’ve been known to rant a few times about things like the war, or Swaziland, or impeachment, or killing dolphins 🙂 I’m really trying to keep my language..uh..presentable. And to keep the vitriol down. But how can I possibly be quiet in the face of so much horror? Would God have me be silent? (I asked this commentor this question). Can I do good works AND be vocal?

So..thanks for this.

Comment by Grace


It is so good to hear from you again. I was just reading someone commenting about you and wondering what had happened. It has been a troubling few weeks for me both personally and politically. So, this sermon was boiling underneath the surface. I always believe that God can take whatever we dish out and if not then maybe our God needs a change.

Comment by pastorofdisaster

Oh, Pastor…. My heart goes out to you. I know the struggles that I have in my own heart…and I don’t have the responsibilities that you do. My view of God has changed in such slight and dramatic ways over the last few years. I believe we are GOD on this planet…if WE don’t do something, Why would God?

For some reason I’m remembering something that my daddy used to say about giving a person enough rope to hang themselves! LOL

Pastor, I pray that the Peace of God would strengthen you as you walk in the fullness of His plan for your life. I pray that the Holy Spirit will fill you to overflowing with assurance…with love…and with grace.

It’s good to share space with you again. And I hope all is well with your wife and family. Namaste.

Comment by Grace

Thanks Grace! I appreciate your kind words.


Comment by pastorofdisaster

A Buddhist layman thanks you for your compassion and mindfulness. 🙂

Comment by paperfrog

Peace and mercy be with you paperfrog.

Comment by pastorofdisaster

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