character vs. circumstance: the resolution of (now greater) faith
The end of Habakkuk (3:16-19) is profound and beautiful...
16 I heard and my heart pounded,
my lips quivered at the sound;
decay crept into my bones,
and my legs trembled.
Yet I will wait patiently for the day of calamity
to come on the nation invading us.
17 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,
18 yet I will rejoice in the LORD,
I will be joyful in God my Savior.
19 The Sovereign LORD is my strength;
he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
he enables me to go on the heights.
After weeks 1, 2, and 3 of our study of Habakkuk, we wrap up with a happy ending-- not in terms of circumstance (which turned out worse than expected) but in terms of faith and character.
In 3:2, 16, we see (what my pastor in Texas labeled as) Habakkuk's "trembling adoration". The combo is difficult to keep in balance, typically degenerating into or settling at:
-"begrudging fear"-- spiritual paralysis
-"mild respect"-- spiritual presumption
In 3:2, we also see Habakkuk's "repentant praying" (Job 42:5-6)
-in 1:2-4, he prays for God to begin working
-in 1:12-17, he prays for God to revise his working
-in 2:1, he prays for God to explain his working
-in 3:2, he prays for God to accelerate (not just renew) his working
Then, back to 3:16-19, where Habakkuk...
-squarely faces life's brutal realities (3:16-17)
-feasts solely on God's character (3:18)
-continues by God's empowerment (3:19): He is my strength and He gives me a sure-footed confidence in the midst of difficult circumstances
C.S. Lewis drew an analogy between faith and a rope: "You never know how much you believe anything until its truth or falsehood is a matter of life and death. It is easy to say you believe a rope to be strong and sound as long as you are merely using it to cord a box. But suppose you had to hang by that rope over a precipice. Wouldn't you then first discover how much you really trusted it?...Only a real risk tests the reality of a belief."
As we face life's difficulties, may we take our problems to God and trust in His goodness and power. Indeed, the just shall live by faith...