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 stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior. | Habakkuk 3:17-18
Recently I was in New York with family and friends and this question came up:
“What was one valuable lesson that you learned this past year?”
My husband and I looked at each other and we couldn’t figure out what that lesson was. Then one word changed it all.
This past year we wanted to make something of ourselves. We wanted to handle everything and not surrender anything to our Lord. We saw that He was breaking our knees, and we needed Him more than ever.
Habakkuk was no different from us—he went through the steps of complaining and questioning and wanting things to go his way. However, through it all, the Lord was softening his heart, so let’s dig in and look.
Habakkuk’s First Complaint
How long, Lord, must I call for help, but you do not listen? Or cry out to you, “Violence” but you do not save? Why do you make me look at injustice? Why do you tolerate wrong doing? Destruction and violence are before me; there is strife, and conflict abounds… | Habakkuk 1:2-3
Habakkuk was very upset with God. He didn’t like how there was so much sin, violence, and destruction going on in the lives of the Babylonians. Habakkuk was questioning everything; he wanted to know why God wasn’t stepping in to help. Why aren’t you saving? Why are you tolerating wrongdoing?
Isn’t that what we ask ourselves when we are going through a rough phase in our life? I know that was the first stage I went through when I was diagnosed with a pre-cancerous condition.
Why me God?
Why aren’t you making me feel better?
I cry out to you, but you are not saving me.
I didn’t like how God was handling it His way. Habakkuk felt the same way.
The Lord Answers Habakkuk
Look at the nations and watch and be utterly amazed. For I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe, even if you were told. I am raising up the Babylonians that ruthless and impetuous people… | Habakkuk 1:5-6
The Lord tells Habakkuk to watch and be amazed. “I am going to do a great work in these sinful people, I’m not giving up on them.” The Lord is encouraging Habakkuk not to give up either, that these people are worth saving.
Isn’t that true of ourselves? We once were lost sinners, wanting to gain everything in this world. However, our Lord says we are worth it. He saved us from our lowest pit. Despite the sin, the violence, the destruction, He finds us beautiful and worth saving. That everlasting love is deserved among everyone. So why don’t we believe that?
Habakkuk Complains Again
Lord are you not from everlasting? … Your eyes are too pure to look on evil; you cannot tolerate wrongdoing. … Why are you silent while the wicked swallow up those more righteous than themselves? | Habakkuk 1:12-13
Watch and be amazed? These people are bringing honor to themselves, they don’t care about your ways or your commandments. They only take pleasure in their own enjoyment. Habakkuk couldn’t accept the Lord’s answer. He wanted to give up on the Babylonians. They aren’t worth saving.
That is our attitude, right? We believe that whatever circumstance we go through the Lord is going to do a great work, but when we live through the circumstance we boil up with anger, we try and make things go our way. How can my Lord let me go through this pain and suffering and say He’s going to do a great work?
When I went through my treatments, I was questioning everything and pushing God away. I was too overconfident about handling things my way. I didn’t have an ounce of humility. However, a huge part of my heart was using this experience as way to tell others about Christ. My pain and suffering in turn was for the extension of God’s kingdom. Remind you of someone?
The Lord Answers Habakkuk Again
Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so he may run who reads it. For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end, it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay. | Habakkuk 2:2-3
The Lord says, “If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay.” Wow, such encouraging words. This season of life might seem really slow right now, but even when we are faithless, He is always faithful.
His ways won’t delay. The timing couldn’t be more perfect.
The Lord is telling Habakkuk that He understands what he’s feeling. He is telling Habakkuk, “Even though the Babylonians are bringing dishonor to my name, I will still love them and not forget them. There will be a time that amazing things will happen, and their hardened hearts will soften, mercy will come upon them. Until then take heart and be encouraged that I will take care of it. Trust me to take care of it, surrender your heart, get on your knees and pray.”
Habakkuk’s Prayerful Surrender
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…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, through there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, 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: 2, 17-19
You may be going through a sickness, a broken heart, a death in the family, a community that lives in sin…the list is endless. But I am here to tell you not to be discouraged. Even if you feel the Lord is being silent in your life, don’t question the wonder and amazement He is working in your circumstance.
He is using you to bring glory to His name.
His love will never leave your side and will always produce strength even in dark times.
Habakkuk realized how much He needed to surrender, how much he needed to get on his knees with humility and pray. The fig tree may not bud, there may not be any sheep in the pen, the fields may produce no food, but through it all the Lord is our confidence that everything will be okay. So rejoice and be glad, for He hears your cry and will not delay in the wondrous plans He has for you.