…”yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.
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 3:18-19 (NIV)
Habakkuk had received bad news from the Lord. The justice and moral purity of God’s people that he so much desired and prayed for was a long way off. God explained to Habakkuk that the worst was yet to come.
The context for our verses have the prophet talking about crop failure and other disasters happening. Then the Lord’s servant inserts the word “yet” into his prophecy.
It is as though the man of God was determined to find something or someone good in his life in spite of everything being disastrous. How can you be joyful in the context of unending sorrow and tragedy? What does the suffering person do to have their spirits lifted from the depths of despair?
Habakkuk gives us the answer. He has already made it clear that there is nothing that he can be joyful about in his life as he surveys the horizon. Everywhere there is darkness, suffering, unending misery to be seen.
It is when this life is clearly observed as hopeless that the prophet looks heavenward and sets his eyes on the Lord. When everything else is a mess he can still see the beauties of his Creator and find cause for hope and joy.
Many of the people I counsel in my ministry have problems so big and frightening that I can only imagine how they must feel when they get up in the morning to face another day of sorrow. This is why I seek, by any means possible, to get them to look at God and find the stability, strength, and comfort that escapes them as they survey their lot in this world.
We must get our eyes fixed on eternity and the hope of justice returning to the Lord’s creation or else we despair of life entirely.
When I was in Malawi a few years ago I went far off into the wilderness over back roads, across fields, and finally came to a village where I wanted to see a man who suffered from leprosy.
The man’s appearance broke my heart. He had lost the fingers on his hands, the toes off his feet, he was blind, and the meagre bit of food he received each day hardly gave him enough nourishment to survive and continue his suffering.
Yet this man was joyful and enthusiastic because of his assurance that the Lord was waiting to welcome him into heaven at the end of his sad journey through this life. We gave him food, blankets and words of encouragement. He prayed the most beautiful prayer of thanksgiving for all he had in this life and especially the life to come.
He thanked the Lord for our visit and expressions of love to him. However, his real hope was indeed in the Lord. May you have the spirit of Habakkuk and countless other believers who have suffered greatly and you too will hope in the Lord.