“Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive fails and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls . . .” (Habakkuk 3:17)
I confess this is not my favorite verse. Especially not right now. I want the fig tree to bud. I want grapes on the vine. I want olives and sheep and cattle. I want God to set things right. I want the huge hole in my heart to be filled with Joy again. Maybe you know where I’m coming from. Something has rocked your world and left you in pain. Someone walked away. Someone passed away. You received a scary diagnosis. Your workplace shut down. You got a foreclosure notice in the mail. And all you can do is beg God to fix it.
I’m not a Pollyanna by nature – I don’t gravitate toward optimism. Neither did Habakkuk. In the opening of the Old Testament book that bears his name, he said, “How long, O Lord . . .” (1:2). How long until you answer and rescue your people from their enemy? How long will you tolerate these wicked people? How long will you let us suffer? Sounds a lot like me right now – “How long God will you let this drag on?”
But somewhere along the way, something changed in Habakkuk’s message – and in his heart – and I think I know what it is. “The Lord is in His holy temple . . .” (2:20). God is still on His throne and very much in control. The Sovereign of the universe has not let anything – not figs or grapes or olives or sheep or cattle – or little girls – slip from His hands. And that is why, even when there is nothing in Jerusalem to rejoice over, Habakkuk can say, “ . . .yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be Joyful in God my Savior” (3:18). Because God is always God.
In this hard season of my life, I am learning that God is worth rejoicing over even when my heart is heavy. God is still good. He is still able. He is still faithful. He is still God. Beloved, that is something to rejoice about.