After voicing his concerns to God over the impending Babylonian conquest of Judah, and after accepting the fate that God had in store for the Jewish people at the hands of the Babylonians, the prophet Habakkuk wrote these words found in the latter half of the third chapter of the book that bears his name:
Though the fig tree should not blossom,
nor fruit be on the vines,
though the produce of the olive fail
and the fields yield no food,
though the flock be cut off from the fold
and there be no herd in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the Lord;
I will take joy in the God of my salvation.
God, the Lord, is my strength;
he makes my feet like the deer’s;
he makes me tread on my high places.
Even though God assured Habakkuk that the Jewish people would eventually be delivered from the Babylonians, he knew his people were in for some very harsh and difficult times in the not too distant future. Because of their disobedience, the Jews would have to endure decades of cruel treatment before deliverance and restoration finally came. It certainly caused Habakkuk a great deal of despair. Yet in spite of that despair, he still rejoiced in the goodness of God.
If you happen to be reading this on the 3rd day of February, it was nine years ago on this day that we lost our precious grandson Ian. (He passed away on February 3rd of 2007 to be exact.) For those who may not know, Ian was my son’s youngest child and was only a little over a month away from his third birthday when the Lord took him home. The loss of a child or a grandchild is, without a doubt, the worst pain anyone can go through. Yet God was greater, greater than the pain, greater than all the sadness in the months that followed. That’s what Habakkuk concluded. That’s what I know to be true.
This does not suggest that we shout for joy in the middle of our pain. That’s not what the scripture is saying at all. These inspired words of Habakkuk are a reminder to us that God is by our side always. They’re a reminder that God is the source of our strength in the darkest hours of life. No one takes joy in the thing that causes pain. We take joy in the knowledge that we never go through pain and sorrow alone.
Whatever sorrow or pain you’re facing, or might face tomorrow or one day in the future, remember this: God is good.