by Marla Bentien
When All Is Gone
How would you like to be named Habakkuk? I wonder if his pals called him Hab? When my friend Meg mentioned to me that some of her favorite verses are found in the Old Testament book of Habakkuk, I was intrigued. I hadn’t visited ol’ Hab for quite a while, so I thought I’d take a fresh look at what he had to say.
This prophet lived during the time of Jeremiah, and, like him, had the unenviable task of delivering a message from God of doom and gloom to the people of Israel. Initially, Habakkuk is perplexed and distressed by the wickedness and violence surrounding him, and even more disturbed that God doesn’t seem to be paying attention.
After the prophet takes his complaints and questions to the Lord, and then listens to His explanations, Habakkuk settles his heart, and in the final chapter it is wonderfully recorded for us that he puts his trust in “God my Savior,” and he worships “the Holy One…the Sovereign Lord.”
Though God reveals to Habakkuk a coming invasion by the “ruthless” Babylonians, we see this man stand firm on the fact that God alone can be truly depended on. “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. The Sovereign Lord is my strength; He makes my feet like the feet of a deer, He enables me to go on the heights” (3:17-19).
Did you catch that? No food, no wine to drink, no olives for oil, no animals for meat and milk and wool….Everything gone, the economy completely wiped out, devastation and disaster all around! Habakkuk knew this scene could very possibly unfold in the near future; what does the prophet do? He doesn’t whine or cry or throw a tantrum. He doesn’t withdraw or give up on God. He affirms, “I will be joyful in God my Savior.” He doesn’t just cling to God in desperation with a grin-and-bear-it attitude, but rather declares that he will REJOICE! Food and crops and animals and the everyday blessings in life bring us joy, but when those are gone, God is still there, and we can rejoice because of who He is. Food and crops and animals give us strength from day to day, but if we don’t have them, God is still with us and for us, and He Himself is our strength. The day may come, Habakkuk