Habakkuk 3:18-19 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.
I have long had a warm spot in my heart for Habakkuk, not only for this beautiful prayer but also for 2:1-3, which has been given to us and to this church on three separate occasions by three different people who didn’t know each other. And of course, 2:4 contains the famous line that sparked the Reformation: “The righteous shall live by faith.” All of that is to say that the “Minor Prophets” are called that strictly because of the length of their books, and not as a reference to their importance. These closing verses of Habakkuk’s brief book are a moving and powerful encouragement to any believer. We all tend to get caught up in our circumstances, rejoicing in physical peace and plenty and being distressed at turmoil and lack. Habakkuk was writing in a time of war and famine, which have killed hundreds of millions of people down through the centuries. Verse 16 indicates that he was very reasonably scared witless, and then we come to this powerful declaration of faith: “Yet.” He doesn’t deny his circumstances, but he declares that in spite of them he will rejoice in the Lord. I want to be that kind of “yeti!” (Not a brand name, but what is also called “the abominable snowman.) That is the opposite of what are called “snowflakes,” people who melt at the slightest hint of difficulty or opposition. Snowflakes have no idea what it is to rejoice in the Lord! This is the purest form of faith, agreeing with Paul: “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:18)
This is certainly applicable to me! I have certainly had some tight times, and some tumultuous ones as well. I have indeed learned that God is the very definition of faithfulness. However, my faith is still far from perfect. I need to learn better to rejoice before I see God’s deliverance! I need to remember the story of the Bible smuggler in the days of the Soviet Union who was very anxious going into customs inspection, knowing he could be arrested and jailed indefinitely for all the Bibles in his bag. However, the customs inspector seemed completely blind to the Bibles that were in plain sight, and the man rejoiced as he crossed to the exit area. However, the Lord said to him, “You’re rejoicing on the wrong side of the room.” He should have rejoiced in faith before he saw what God would do! That story has come back to me many times since I first read it. I know that I won’t enter into the full joy of my Lord (Matthew 25:21) until I do so in faith, regardless of what my senses and my intellect tell me. Thinking about it, I know that the day of my physical death will be the day of my greatest joy, because I will go to meet with my Lord! With that assurance, I need to rejoice at every lesser hurdle as well, in growing faith.
Father, thank You for this strong reminder. Help me indeed walk in anticipatory joy, knowing that Your plans are indeed for my good, (Jeremiah 29:11) whatever I am going through at any given moment. May I be so assured of You and Your goodness that I am totally obedient to You in every detail, for Your will to be done in and through me for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!