"Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines,the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food,the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls,yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation."Usually I try not to give spoilers to upcoming sermons, but all well.
I believe this verse is something that we, as Christians, need to take a long hard look at. The reason I believe we need to consider it (and by consider I mean think about, study and apply to our lives), is the potential it has for radically and fundamentally reshaping our entire outlook on life, especially when the Terror of Darkness comes and destroys our view of the world around us. It can show us how even in fear and destruction we can choose to rejoice in God and give Him our all, even if our all is a pittance (in our eyes) compared to what others our even our past selves have been able to offer.
You see, far too often we fall into a trap that says if what we can bring before God does not measure up to what we have been able to bring in the past, then it must not be a worthy gift.
This is a lie.
I do not recall anywhere in Scripture where God commands that if you are able to offer him 3 full grown bulls when you are 25 years old, that once you hit 35 years old you better be able to offer him 3 full grown bulls or nothing at all. Likewise I do not recall anywhere in Scripture where God commands that if you make it to the high mountains of faith and can offer Him the most amazing worship and devotion at 25, that once you hit 35 you better be able to do the same thing or nothing at all. It is just not there.
And it is a trap to believe we are called to such a thing.
Now at first glance this feels backwards. Paul says to run the race, right? In a race you make progress, right? So therefore we must make progress in our faith in order to be "running the race," right?
Right. Also, wrong.
Right because we are called to run the race to win the prize, wrong because we tend to mistake our concept of progress for faith's concept of progress.
Most humans like to think in linear terms. You go from Point A to Point B and that is progress. But faith isn't like that. Faith is messy and filled with progress going up and down, left and right, backwards and forwards. It is filled with high mountains and low valleys and horrifying enemies and beautiful allies. It is anything but linear.
In other words, it looks a lot like life.
Take Peter's progress for example. He followed Jesus, cast out demons, preached the Gospel, denied Jesus...wait, what?
Yes, denying Jesus was also a part of his progress of faith. Not a fun part, mind you, but it was a part of it. And Jesus Himself called Peter out on it. Ever stop to think what effect that may have had on Peter's outlook on life? He denied the the One of whom he said, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." He confessed Jesus to His face, then turned around and denied he ever knew Him.
Think that may have had an impact on his desire to ensure he never did anything like that again? That is progress, but it only became progress because he chose to let it become such. When Jesus told him three times to "Feed My sheep," Peter was saddened, but he still chose to say "Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you."
He chose progress after his darkest hour. He chose Jesus, even after he failed his Savior. The other path was taken by Judas.
But back to Habakkuk.
Habakkuk has just been told by God that all of Judah is about to get wrecked by Babylon, an evil, brutal nation. Then when he questions God about it God's answer is basically "Don't worry, the Babylonians will get their's too."
But that is not his response. Instead, He spends the first 15 verses of chapter 3 praising God and recounting the power He has shown the Israelites. He spends it praising God.
Then we see just how terrified he is of what God has told him when he says this in verse 16.
"I hear, and my body trembles; my lips quiver at the sound;rottenness enters into my bones;my legs tremble beneath me.Yet I will quietly wait for the day of troubleto come upon people who invade us."Habakkuk is terrified. And he admits it. He puts it out there for all to see. It almost looks as though he has given up. That he has thrown in the towel and walked away.
But that's not it at all.
Instead he has given up all his hopes and dreams and plans that were his, and latched onto the hopes and dreams and plans that are God's. He knows there is no hope left for Judah. His friends, his family, his city and his country are going to be destroyed. Judgment is coming and there is nothing he can do about it.
Save for accepting it and turning to God instead of even those things for his happiness and joy.
Hillsong United has a song called "Even When It Hurts." In it they sing,
Even when the fight seems lost, I'll praise YouThis is Habakkuk's answer to his terror. To praise and honor God, to take joy from Him, because there is nothing else he is going to be able to take joy in. It is all going to be wiped out.
Even when it hurts like Hell, I'll praise you
Even when it makes no sense to sing, Louder then I'll sing Your praise
"Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines,the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food,the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls,yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation."Terror and darkness and fear is not the end of the story for the Christian. It may look that way at times, and we may not be able to see beyond it, but we can, even if it is only in the most barely perceptible way, understand that there is something beyond it.
Because there is something beyond everything. This world. This heartache. This blindness. Everything.
There is the King.