The prophet Habakkuk lived in a day of uncertainty. Okay, actually, his name should probably be pronounced “HAB-a-cook,” but since I grew up calling him “ha-BACK-uck,” you’re stuck with my pronunciation. Babylon was growing as a world power, and the people of Judah were afraid they were in for hard times. Yet, for all the questions that are raised about the future, the prophet ends his writings with a confident declaration that is a song of encouragement. He writes,
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).
Do you mind if I paraphrase that for the 21st century? I think if Habakkuk were writing today, he would have said something like this:
Though the gross national product should not rise,
and there be no pay increase this year,
though the yield of the stock market should fail,
and retirement benefits should end,
though G-8 negotiations should be broken off,
and there be no hope of peace in the world,
yet, I will rejoice in the Lord,
I will be joyful in God my Savior.
I have a homework assignment for you today. Before you go to sleep tonight, I want you to find a Bible and look up the little book of Habakkuk. Use the table of contents, if you need to. Go to the last chapter in the book.
Now, I want you to write your own paraphrase of those last verses. Whatever problems you’re dealing with in your life, substitute your problems for Habakkuk’s. Then when you get to the part where Habakkuk says he will still be joyful and rejoice in spite of all the problems, bow your head and tell God the same thing. I believe your heart will be encouraged.
How was your heart encouraged?