Even though the fig trees have no blossoms, and there are no grapes on the vines; even though the olive crop fails, and the fields lie empty and barren; even though the flocks die in the fields, and the cattle barns are empty, yet I will rejoice in the Lord! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation! The Sovereign Lord is my strength! He makes me as surefooted as a deer, able to tread upon the heights.
Habakkuk 3:17-19, NLT
This past month, I had the opportunity to catch up with a friend who’s been going through a challenging season. She told me that for the past few years it has been one thing after another. Her difficulties ranged from the things like COVID, unrest in the world, returning to the workplace, a serious medical condition for a family member, and inconveniences like her washing machine breaking down, finding new daily rhythms in life as her kids still do a mix of in-person and online schooling and feeling a lack of energy. She told me every time she thinks life is going to get back to “normal” something else happens.
Have you ever experienced a season like that? I have and so did the prophet Habakkuk. In chapter 3, we read that Habakkuk is watching as the country he lives in keeps experiencing one setback after another. First, the fig trees didn’t blossom, which meant no figs to enjoy. Maybe not a huge problem, if you are like some folks who don’t like figs to begin with. Then they lost the grapes, which meant no wine to be had. Again, if you are not a wine drinker, you can live with this loss. However, losing the olive crop started impacting everyone because that meant no oil for cooking or lighting lamps. Then the grain fields didn’t produce, which impacts the food supply chain and the last blow is they lost their livestock. Things looked bleak. Yet, Habakkuk doesn’t end his writings with despair, but rather with delight.
What caused him to have remarkable hope even though the world seemed to be falling apart? Habakkuk knew that his hope was not rooted in his circumstances, but rather in his Creator. Even though the crops and everything else may fail, Habakkuk knew that God never fails. Habakkuk drew joy and strength from his hope in the God of His salvation.
Habakkuk’s hope was not built on wishful thinking or just positive affirmations, but on God’s character, acts and promises. So, what can you do if you are in a season in your life when things seem to be falling apart all around you and things on the horizon don’t look any better?
- Refocus on the Bigness of God: On my water bottle is a sticker that reminds me to “set your mind on things above, not on earthly things” (Colossians 3:2, NLT). I use it as a daily reminder that all of my “even thoughs” are just temporary and that even though they may seem impossible for me, for God they are not. The truth is, the challenges that we are dealing with might linger on longer than we desire, but God cares deeply about the hurts, the frustrations, and the annoyances we feel. However, we must intentionally choose to refocus on the bigness of God not the bigness of our problems or emotions. How do we refocus? By remembering who God is and the promises He gives like: that He is loving, that He cares about the details of our lives, that He promises to rescue us, that He is ever-present. As we hold onto and declare these truths, we can then refocus on the bigness of God who promises to always be with us no matter what season we are going through.
- Yield to Yet: In verse 18 Habakkuk utters three little letters, but together they produce a powerful word–”YET”. He says that even though all these challenges were happening “YET, I will rejoice in the Lord.” He creates a new perspective. So, the next time your day is falling apart, try this practice. Grab a scrap of paper and write out: Even though ___ and _____; even though ___ and _____; YET I will rejoice in the Lord! It might sound something like this: “Even though I am losing my job and income; even though my hot water heater needs to be fixed and I cannot get a repair man here until Friday; even though my kids are fighting and not getting along; YET I will rejoice in the Lord!” This can be your way of declaring your trust in the Lord and His faithfulness, even when you are feeling afraid and out of control.
- Grab on to Gratitude: I was listening to Brene Brown’s “Unlocking Us” podcast recently and her guest talked about how she had been practicing gratitude for many years and because of this habit she was able to find something to be grateful for even as her family dealt with the tragedies from hurricane Harvey. She said that even though her house was filling with water, there were kind friends who opened up their house and gave them shelter from the storm. Gratitude allows us to turn our focus away from our problems and turn our attention to the ways that God is providing for us in the midst of the storm. Gratitude enabled Habakkuk to rejoice in a bad-to-worse situation. I know it has definitely helped me through some tough seasons. And it can help you with any challenging situation you are facing, too.
There have been a lot of “even thoughs” these past two years globally and personally, but we don’t have to lose hope. Even though there is war, even though there are gas shortages, even though we may be experiencing loss or failure, YET we can return to joy in God and be lifted to new heights.
Heavenly Father, please help us to remember that nothing is too big for you to handle. Help us to be grateful instead of grumbling when hard things come our way. Remind us of your greatness so we are not overwhelmed by the size of our problems. Thank you that you are with us always and that our strength lies not in ourselves but in you. Like Habakkuk, we choose to root our joy in you and rejoice in the God of our salvation! In Jesus’ name, Amen.