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. (Habakkuk 3:17-18 NIV)
Initially we might not identify with this passage very well. Many of us do not grow figs, vines, or olives. But, use your imagination for a moment. If you were a sustenance farmer (you live off of what you grow instead of living off of what someone pays you) and you had no crop, how would you feel? Or what if there were no animals around? Eating is difficult when there is nothing to consume. Photo by DMahendra
Perhaps we would understand this statement by Habakkuk if we changed the lingo:
Though the company I work for declared bankruptcy, though the HR department has put a freeze on any benefits, though my paychecks are no longer being sent, though my stock investments have declined to nothing, though there is no money in the bank account, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior. (Free Contemporary Craig Version)
Now we understand that, right? Job loss, inability to pay bills, and economic weakness. We also know what those events do to our faith. They challenge it. They shake us to the core. And yet, we too can say regardless of all that, “I will rejoice in the Lord.”
We do need to keep in mind that this conclusion comes at the end of Habakkuk’s book, and I think it also comes at the end of a faith struggle.
Here is a brief outline of Habakkuk:
Complaint #1: Good things are happening to the bad guys and bad things are happening to the good guys.
The Lord’s Answer: I have a plan.
Complaint #2: God, you are too slow with your just response. Hurry up and punish these guys.
The Lord’s Answer: I am in my temple. I am on the throne. I am in control.
Habakkuk’s prayer: You are right. You are God, and you are in control.
When we go through financial difficulties and struggles like a job loss, our emotional response is fear and our faith question is – God are you still in control? Even beyond finances, when life gets hard we struggle. The important thing is to remember:
But the Lord is in his holy temple; let all the earth be silent before him.” (Habakkuk 2:20 NIV)
When your times of difficulty come I pray that you will remember that God is in control.
Anyone recently been through an economic trial? How did you remain faithful to God? What helps you when you are in a deep valley of faith?