Yet will I rejoice in the Lord…
Habakkuk’s prayer in Habakkuk 3 is a song of affirmation. Refreshingly honest. Resoundingly positive. He’s come from a place of a lot of questions to one of assurance that His God is God and knows what He’s doing. If anyone ever says to me that they don’t understand why God allows the suffering in the world, I would send them to the book of Habakkuk. Never expected to hear myself saying that!
So here’s the prayer in its entirety for you to read and be inspired by. God will speak to each one of us differently through it, so you need to read it for yourself. Then I’ll share with you what stood out for me.
Lord, I have heard of your fame;
I stand in awe of your deeds, Lord.
Repeat them in our day,
in our time make them known;
in wrath remember mercy.
God came from Teman,
the Holy One from Mount Paran.
His glory covered the heavens
and his praise filled the earth.
His splendour was like the sunrise;
rays flashed from his hand,
where his power was hidden.
Plague went before him;
pestilence followed his steps.
He stood, and shook the earth;
he looked, and made the nations tremble.
The ancient mountains crumbled
and the age-old hills collapsed –
but he marches on for ever.
I saw the tents of Cushan in distress,
the dwellings of Midian in anguish.
Were you angry with the rivers, Lord?
Was your wrath against the streams?
Did you rage against the sea
when you rode your horses
and your chariots to victory?
You uncovered your bow,
you called for many arrows.
You split the earth with rivers;
the mountains saw you and writhed.
Torrents of water swept by;
the deep roared
and lifted its waves on high.
Sun and moon stood still in the heavens
at the glint of your flying arrows,
at the lightning of your flashing spear.
In wrath you strode through the earth
and in anger you threshed the nations.
You came out to deliver your people,
to save your anointed one.
You crushed the leader of the land of wickedness,
you stripped him from head to foot.
With his own spear you pierced his head
when his warriors stormed out to scatter us,
gloating as though about to devour
the wretched who were in hiding.
You trampled the sea with your horses,
churning the great waters.
I heard and my heart pounded,
my lips quivered at the sound;
decay crept into my bones,
and my legs trembled.
Yet I will wait patiently for the day of calamity
to come on the nation invading us.
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 sheepfold
and no cattle in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
I will be joyful in God my Saviour.
The Sovereign Lord is my strength;
he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
he enables me to tread on the heights. Habakkuk 3:2-19
What a beautiful piece of descriptive writing!
So what spoke to me?
I stand in awe of your deeds, Lord.
That is where I need to stand. Always. In awe. I must never forget the immensity of who God is. His incredible power sits alongside His incredible love: I cannot have one without the other. There is nothing or no one to compare – never has been, never will be. God deserves my total respect.
Repeat them in our day, in our time make them known.
This follows on from that. People need to hear who God really is and what He’s really like and it’s my job to tell them. Not just through the things I say, but by the things I do and the things I write. There’s a warped, small-minded view of God being put about out there. People can’t tolerate hearing about God because the God that has been presented to them has been so much less and so much more damaging than the reality of the one true God. It’s up to me to put that right.
Power like no other power. Creative power, destructive power: two sides of the same force. The power to create the whole universe, matched by the potential power to destroy the whole universe. That’s what we’re dealing with here. There is no other power that comes even close. This power inspires awe: an awe simultaneously encompassing wonder and fear. That’s why Habakkuk describes plagues and pestilence and mountains crumbling and distress and anguish alongside splendour and praise and victory.
Habakkuk describes the creative energy that brought the world into being as an invading army – splitting the earth with rivers, mountains writhing, the sun and moon pinned in place by arrows…..this power then used to deliver God’s people, a power that Habakkuk is now waiting for God to use again against the enemy.
He’ll wait for however long it takes.
Though the fig-tree does not bud…yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Saviour.
I used to sing this when I was a kid. It was a worship song back in the day – anyone else remember it? I had no idea of the context. I don’t know how this meant anything to me at the time, but in its context, it’s dynamite! Whatever happens, whether God provides or not, whether God protects or not, I will rejoice, I will give thanks, I will trust, I will be joyful. That takes strength of character and faith. This faith is not dependent on what happens, this faith cannot be shaken, this faith endures whatever happens.
I want a faith like that.
So however narrow or unsteady or high or dangerous the path, God will give me the strength and the ability to walk that path. Like a deer.
What a great place to end this chapter and this book with such an affirmation as this.
We have no idea what is in store for us. All we can know is that the God of the universe is with us always. Every step of the way.
Incredible but true.