Even though the fig trees have no blossoms, and there are no grapes on the vine; even though the olive crop fails, and the fields lie empty and barren; even though the flocks die in the fields, and the cattle barns are empty, yet I will rejoice in the LORD! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation. The Sovereign LORD is my strength! He will make me as surefooted as a deer and bring me safely over the mountains. —Habakkuk 3:17-19, NLT
Habakkuk wrote those words about 607 BC, when Judah was in its final decline and Babylon, the new world superpower, was making threats. It was a time of intense political crisis and spiritual bankruptcy. The dire predictions of prophets like Habakkuk had fallen on deaf ears, and in just a few short years the armies of Nebuchadnezzar would march in and take the rulers of Judah captive.
If ever there was a time to be pessimistic, this was it. But at the end of his short book, knowing full well what lay ahead for Judah, Habakkuk declares his faith in God’s faithfulness.
At some point, life will knock you flat. When it happens, what will you say to God?
There is a school of thought in some Christian circles that we strike something of a bargain with God—we honor him with our religious devotion, and he in turn blesses us with wealth, health and success. Quid pro quo.
Arguing against that is Stephen, the faithful disciple who was stoned to death for his faith; Paul, the faithful disciple who lived out the end of his life in prison before being executed in Rome; John the Baptist; the unnamed martyrs of Hebrews 11…
So what do we do when life throws its worst at us? Do we blame God? Curse God? Or praise God?
I hope that I would be able to follow Habakkuk’s example, but who can know how he’ll react when he is tested?
This I do know: only a fool puts his faith in his own resourcefulness, or in good luck, or good karma, or in a well-managed investment portfolio.
Like Habakkuk, the Lord is my strength.
He will make me as surefooted as a deer and bring me safely over the mountains.