Even though the fig trees have no blossoms,
and there are no grapes on the vines;
even though the olive crop fails,
and the fields lie empty and barren;
even though the flocks die in the fields,
and the cattle barns are empty,
yet I will rejoice in the Lord!
I will be joyful in the God of my salvation! (NLT)
When things turn against us we can go to a couple of extremes. One is the extreme of despair. We are in the pit and there is no way out. Hopelessness takes over. We either groan in anguish or shrug our shoulders with a sort of grim fatalism.
Or we can put on a happy face and practise pious denial. After all, we must not let the side down by appearing gloomy. Those problems are really illusory so we just go on whistling a happy tune and all will be well.
There is a better way, and it is the way of this prophet with an odd name. He admits things are grim, he does not pretend otherwise. Then again, he doesn’t give up. He rejoices. Note that rejoicing is not the same as being happy. Happiness is an emotional response to favourable circumstances, joy is glad confidence in the goodness of God.
Habakkuk can rejoice because God remains good even if circumstances are far from good. His faith in this good God is summed up in that one little word: “yet”. For him and for us it is the “yet” of faith.
Evildoers might triumph, my dreams might be dashed, others let me down, the bank account falls, the body creaks with aches and pains. The past may haunt me and the future may worry me. Yet I will stand firm through all the tears and laughter that litter the landscape of my life. Through the sadness and the gladness I will yet hold on to the one who has hold of me.