I am aware that sometimes an encouragement to ‘give thanks’ can seem somewhat trite or glib. This is especially true when someone is facing huge losses or personal disaster, as has been the case during this last year, when many people have lost jobs, money, loved ones, direction or just hope for their future.
Habbakuk found himself in such a time, and he had many unanswered questions going around his head. God was going to bring judgement on His people, and He was going to do it by using a very ungodly nation, the Babylonians. Habakkuk foresees the day of distress and trouble coming and ‘decay crept into his bones’. He went all ‘trembly’ and weak. Habakkuk 3:16
Then, out of nowhere as it were, he makes this amazing declaration Habakkuk 3:17-19. ‘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 saviour’.
Just amazing!! He is describing total ruin, given that this is an agricultural society with no supermarkets, no welfare state (as we know it) and no defense against this invading enemy. Yet he determines to find ‘joy’ in God. His name Habakkuk, means ‘the one who embraces’. How wonderful is that? This man is able to ‘embrace’ God and His purposes in the midst of impending disaster.
So how do we ‘embrace’ God and all He wants to be for us in times of disaster? How do we even start to ‘rejoice in the Lord’? Yet again, I believe it starts with our ‘thank you’. These times are times when we need to ‘dig deep’. Habakkuk says he will be joyful in his saviour. We need to remember more than anything else what the Lord has done for us on the cross. We can always start by thanking Him for our salvation.
We can thank Him for what we have been saved from, thank Him for undeserved mercy and grace, for forgiveness and for His suffering on our behalf. We can also thank Him for His unchangeableness, for His steadfast love for us. Lamentations 3:22. We can thank Him that He will never leave us or forsake us. Hebrews 13:5. It’s a time for digging out all the promises of God, and reminding ourselves who He is and who He wants to be for us, regardless of our circumstances.
I remember one time feeling very low and shaken. It felt like I was sinking in doubt and confusion. Mark (my husband) said ‘you need to find a rock to stand on’. By which he meant, find an unshakable truth about God to stand on. I did and it ‘stopped’ the slide.
Being able to say, ‘I don’t know what is going on, but this I do know ‘The eternal God is my refuge and underneath are His everlasting arms’ Deuteronomy 33:27, and being able to ‘thank Him’ that he will be with us, with His comfort, in the dark valley Psalm 23:4. These are the truths that we can thank Him for, and these are the truths that will ‘kick start’ our rejoicing in the Lord.
Tomorrow we will look at what happens next for Habakkuk!!