O Lord, how long shall I cry for help, and you will not hear? Or cry to you “violence!” and you will not save?
Habakkuk 1:2 (ESV)
Habakkuk was a prophet who saw many unjust things happen during the Chaldean rise to power. In the verse above, Habakkuk was complaining to God and asking why he wasn’t listening; he thought God didn’t hear, because the law appeared paralysed, and justice at that time wasn’t apparent. Habakkuk’s reaction on seeing such unjust things happening caused him much frustration and anger.
Can you remember times where you weren’t listened to? Perhaps in childhood? How did you feel? How did it shape your future?
Sometimes, perhaps we don’t give as much attention to the act of listening as we ought to. If we understood the possible detrimental impact of not listening, or of not providing a safe space to enable effective listening to take place, we would do more to ensure it happened.
We all have the same fundamental psychological needs, and renowned psychologists Richard Ryan and Edward Deci have broken this down to: 1
- Autonomy: where people feel empowered when they have a sense of choice.
- Competence: the experience of mastery over a task, gift, or talent they have.
- Relatedness: social connections and a high concern for others.
If this is the foundation of our psychological needs, it’s clear not being listened to can alter our psychological foundation. Competence may be achieved on an individual basis; however, can people feel empowered or have a sense of choice if they are not listened to? Are we able to make strong social connections or have high concern for others if the basic act of listening is weakened?
The Lord answered Habakkuk’s complaint of not listening by saying, “…I am doing a work in your days that you would not believe if told.” (Habakkuk 1:5). But Habakkuk continued to question the Lord (v.13) and complained a second time and the Lord patiently kept on listening and answered Habakkuk a second time: “…write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so he may run who reads it…” (Habakkuk 2:2).
We can all feel jaded by things that are unjust, that seem too big for us as individuals to solve. We do need God’s help in such matters. Christians believe that works unseen are taking place constantly. But how do Christians keep faith in things that are not seen; can it sometimes be, because they see his work being done through others’ actions?’
In the UK and Ireland, Black History Month occurs in October; surely our vision for October and beyond can include listening to others’ stories? Our action of simply listening can itself help hope to flourish, which is surely part of God’s work being done? And we can participate in celebrating every life on this earth.
Dear Father, Son and Spirit, please help us in our busy and at times overwhelming lives to stop and listen. Help us bring your healing to those who have been marginalised and those who have not been heard. We thank you for your comfort and ask help to be the best examples we can be. Let us take heart and celebrate all of your children: our brothers and sisters in Christ. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.
Study by Rachel Montgomery
About the writer:
Rachel Montgomery is the Communications Coordinator for Grace Communion International UK & Ireland. She is also a Deaconess in the Edinburgh congregation.
Gilmerton New Church
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