How can someone find joy after they’ve lost everything? That’s the
mystery in the last verses of Habakkuk. It seems both impossible and
unthinkable to find joy when everything we’ve worked for is gone.
3:17 begins with, “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 pen and no cattle in the
This verse is about total loss and abandonment. No
figs. No fruit. No olives. No food. No sheep. No cattle. No livelihood.
This passage is about losing everything. Having nothing to eat. Nothing
to sell. Nothing to build a life on.
What does Habakkuk say to
the Israelites about this devastating situation? One would think he
would tell his people not to fear because God will restore their
fortunes. Or remind them of God’s future deliverance. Or perhaps mention
God’s great plans for them as Jeremiah does in in Jeremiah 29: 11: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Words like that would give them incentive and comfort to press on.
that is not the comfort that Habakkuk brings. He is not looking past
the circumstances of today towards a better day when God will redeem
everything. Habakkuk offers hope in the midst of the wreckage, not
simply hope for the future. Habakkuk says that even in the middle of
this terrible situation, he will find joy in God. After detailing the
utter destruction that Israel is experiencing, he declares in Habakkuk
3:18-19: “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.”
We must choose to focus on the Lord
not easy. It will not just happen naturally. For me, what happens
naturally is resentment, frustration, envying others with easier
situations and wondering why God hasn’t delivered me yet. Naturally I
imagine that the worst will happen. Naturally I feel sorry for myself.
Focus on God, ask Him for help sincerely and wholeheartedly. You’ll emerge better.