Lessons from Habakkuk, Part 5 (Habakkuk 3:16-19)

In my last blog we looked at Habakkuk’s awesome prayer of intercession for his nation. “Lord, I’ve heard of your fame;” he prayed. “I stand in awe of your deeds, O Lord. Renew them in our day.”  That prayer stirs my heart greatly. Habakkuk continued in prayer with a phenemonal recitation of God’s tremendous acts throughout Israel’s history. The language is powerful, building to a crescendo…and then suddenly in verse 16 he takes a turn.

I heard and my heart pounded,
my lips quivered at the sound;
decay crept into my bones,
and my legs trembled.
Yet I will wait patiently for the day of calamity
to come on the nation invading us.

Habakkuk 3:16

Habakkuk knows that Israel is headed for a “day of calamity” because of her sins. I didn’t blog about the meat of the prophecy Habakkuk received, but it was one of destruction for a nation that had turned its back on God. God began his description of what would happen with chapter 1, verse 6:

I am raising up the Babylonians,
that ruthless and impetuous people,
Habakkuk 1:6

Habakkuk returns to that Word from God as he ends his prayer in chapter 4, and he says his heart is pounding, his lips are quivering and his legs are trembling. “Yet, I will patiently for the day of calamity to fall on the nation that God uses to punish Israel.”  Notice Habakkuk’s confidence in God. He knows that God is true to His Word and the Babylonians would eventually be punished for their treatment of Israel. When we are confident of God’s faithfulness, we can wait patiently, without fear of the future – even when we know the future will bring calamity.

Then Habakkuk ends with this powerful prayer:

17Though 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,
18yet I will rejoice in the LORD,
I will be joyful in God my Savior.
19The Sovereign LORD is my strength;
he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
he enables me to go on the heights.
Habakkuk 3:17-19

Just as I have prayed Habakkuk’s opening prayer often, there are times when I repeat his closing prayer: “Lord, our income is low and our prospect for future work is dim. Our cupboards are being depleted and our bank account is drained. Yet we will rejoice in the Lord. We will be joyful in God our Savior. You, Sovereign Lord, are our strength. You give me strength and a lightness of foot to climb the highest mountains. I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” OK, that last line is Philippians 4:13, but it fits, doesn’t it?

Friends, we serve a faithful God! No matter how bleak our circumstances, there is cause for rejoicing in Him. There is cause for being joyful in His presence. He has made it possible for us to spend eternity with Him. He has provided all we need for life and godliness. He is our comforter and our wisdom and our strength. He is our sustainer and enabler. He loves us with an everlasting and passionate love. Jesus gave up the glories of heaven to join us on earth to teach us how to live and then die so that we might live forever. Hallelujah! He is the Alpha and Omega. The everlasting One who existed before time began. He saw me and formed me in my mother’s womb and looked upon me and said “She is my chosen one. I’m not going to let anyone or anything separate her from me.”

Wow! The next time you are facing lack in any area of your life, remember Habakkuk’s closing prayer. “Even though I don’t have anything and the prospects are dim, I will rejoice in you, Lord.” It honors God and builds your faith. Give it a try!

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