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from despair to worship: Habakkuk 3:3-19

It’s not fun being stuck in the “Do you care, God? Where are you? Why don’t you do something!” mud.

Habakkuk decided to try to break out by remembering God’s past faithfulness. “God came … His splendor covered the heavens, and the earth was full of his praise. His brightness was like the light; rays flashed from his hand; and there he veiled his power … the everlasting hills sank low” (Hab 3:3-6).

In the past, we’ve seen God blow into our life like a thunderstorm to light up our world. We remember “sinking low” (bowing down) and worshiping him. It was exhilarating and yet the full extent of his power remained hidden to us.

“The sun and moon stood still in their place at the light of your arrows as they sped, at the flash of your glittering spear. You marched through the earth in fury …You went out for the salvation of your people, for the salvation of your anointed” (Hab 3:11-13).

God does have a track record in our lives. How many times has he changed circumstances and moved mountains to rescue us? “God, you did it before! Now, do it again!”

Nevertheless, Habakkuk is frightened. His heart pounds in his chest; his lips quiver; he feels exhausted—and “yet I will quietly wait,” he says, and rest in the Lord (3:16). And that’s when Habakkuk picks up a brush and paints three scenarios, each containing a matching pair of images.

1) “Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines.” Blossoms and fruit represent our future hopes. When there are no buds, no grapes, no visible signs of what you hope for will ever come to be, Habakkuk encourages us to say, “Yet I will rejoice in the LORD; I will take joy in the God of my salvation” no matter what!

2) Though “the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food.” Olives and fields refer to the things we trust in the present. All our hard work, all our effort, and the “crops” disappoint. When all that you are counting on in the present lets us down, Habakkuk exhorts us to say, “Yet I will rejoice in the LORD; I will take joy in the God of my salvation” no matter what!

3) Though “the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls.” Sheep and cattle signify trusting in our reserves. To put it in today’s terms, when there is no money in the bank and credit cards are maxed out, and you have nothing to fall back on, Habakkuk inspires us to say, “Yet I will rejoice in the LORD; I will take joy in the God of my salvation” no matter what!

Habakkuk found that he could rejoice in God and take joy in God when everything goes to pot because, as he put it, “GOD, the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like the deer’s; he makes me tread on my high places (3:18).

In Hannah Hurnard’s book, Hinds’ Feet on High Places, a girl named Much-Afraid had lived in the Valley of Fear all her life. It was all she had ever known. But in faith she embarked on a new journey. The path is marked by much sorrow and suffering along the way, but through it all she learns to trust God no matter what. And where does the Lord lead her? To higher, deeper places of fellowship with him that she had never known.