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.
Habakkuk 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 stalls …”
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.
But 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
It’s 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.