Habakkuk proclaims at the end of his prophecy, “Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior” (Hab. 3:18). He had seen God at work in some difficult times. In the beginning, however, he had cried out impatiently, “How long, O Lord” (1:2) lamenting, “Destruction and violence are before me; there is strife, and conflict abounds. Therefore, the law is paralyzed, and justice is perverted” (1:3). What happened?
In this brief book, we see that the prophet – like us – was learning to wait – “I will wait patiently” (1:16 BST – Bible Speaks Today). He was learning to live by faith, being “transformed from an impatient prophet into a calm and expectant one” (2:4 BST). With so much that did not make sense, he declared, “I will stand at my watch and station myself on the ramparts; I will look to see what he will say to me and what answer I am to give to this complaint” (2:1).
Now at the end of his prophecy, he responds with, “yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior” (3:18 BST). Habakkuk was able to rejoice even though he was living through a time of devastation. “It is one thing to rejoice in our blessings; it is quite another to rejoice when blessings have been removed” (BST).
Habakkuk’s prayer could be a model for us in the days to come. Much of what we take for granted will be removed. Even the church will suffer. There will be some difficult times ahead. Could Habakkuk be expressing what we might experience in the days to come? “I trembled inside when I heard this; my lips quivered with fear. My legs gave way beneath me, and I shook in terror. I will wait quietly for the coming day when disaster will strike the people who invade us” (3:16 NLT). We may very well have to wait quietly, knowing there is little else we can do.
Habakkuk was prepared to rejoice in God no matter what happened around him. “Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the live crop fails, and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the sheepfold and no cattle in the stalls,” he was learning rejoice, even in the midst of starvation and loss (3:17 BST).
Habakkuk concludes by declaring, “The Sovereign Lord is my strength (3:19). The prophet’s secret to enduring devastation was the strength he found in the Lord. He declares that the Lord “makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to tread on the height” (3:19). David also bore witness to the ability to move nimbly as a deer in the midst of danger (Ps. 18:33), “but whereas David composed his psalm at a time of victory, Habakkuk uses the words to express a faith which trusts God while it is still very dark” (BST).
Like us, Habakkuk was learning to live by faith and not be sight (2:4). This is the kind of “see through” faith that will be needed in the days to come. I encourage every man reading this blog, to recommit today to trust Jesus more and more. Take Paul’s words to heart: “I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.” (Phil 4:12-13 NLT).