Though the fig tree does not bud
and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
and no cattle in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
I will be joyful in God my Savior.
The Sovereign Lord is my strength;
he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
he enables me to tread on the heights. (Habakkuk 3:17-19 NIV)
It is easy to be thankful and rejoice when everything is positive. When work is good. When everyone in the family is getting along. My health, and that of my family, is good. There are no problems with neighbors and co-workers. When the government is performing as I think it should. In those circumstances, most people would likely be happy.
But what about when you are living in the midst of a country western song? Your dog has run away, your car has died, and the ones you love no longer love you. It is much harder to rejoice and be joyful when the circumstances seem to be conspiring against you.
That is what makes Habakkuk’s message here stand out. He was committed to rejoicing in the Lord, regardless of the circumstances. Even when the world around him was falling apart, and there was no silver lining that he could see; still he was committed to being joyful in God, his Savior.
This may seem like a deluded approach. But as Habakkuk goes on to say, “the Sovereign Lord is my strength . . . he enables me to tread on the heights.” Habakkuk was not rejoicing that his circumstances were bad. He was rejoicing in the Lord, who was his strength, and who enabled him to walk unbowed by his circumstances. What a wonderful example of keeping one’s eyes fixed on God rather than the chaos of the world around us.
This article was first published on October 31, 2018