By Marry Kassian, Cross Cards
“Though the fig tree does not bud and there is no fruit 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 triumph in Yahweh; I will rejoice in the God of my salvation!” Habakkuk 3:17-18 (HCSB)
This past week, I had the opportunity to catch up with a friend who’s been going through an extremely difficult time because of a wayward, drug-addicted son. When I asked her how she was holding up, she exclaimed, “It’s just one thing after another!”
My friend went on to explain that in addition to the challenges with her son, she had been hit with all sorts of other troubles, too.
Her problems ranged from inconveniences like her washing machine breaking down, to heartaches like her dog dying, to serious medical issues like her husband being rushed to the hospital with a heart condition. “Every time I think things might get better,” she lamented, “they take a turn for the worse.”
Have you ever experienced a season like that? I have. So did the prophet Habakkuk.
In today’s key verse, he describes a series of problems that hit the nation of Israel. Like my friend, Habakkuk and his fellow citizens were caught in a “one thing after another” scenario. Helplessly, they watched the situation in their country escalate from bad to worse.
First, the fig tree didn’t blossom.
That meant no figs. Figs served as a delicacy, so losing them posed more of an annoyance than anything else. The people missed out on something they enjoyed, but not on something essential.
Next, they lost the grapes.
Grapes provided the daily beverage, so losing them posed a major inconvenience. Losing the produce of the olive was worse. They had no oil for cooking or for lighting lamps. That significantly hampered their ability to function.
Even more critical was the loss of grain.
That meant starvation for large segments of the population. The final blow was the loss of the livestock, as this not only deprived them of food, but also of their ability to produce it. Given a catastrophe of this magnitude, things looked very bleak indeed.
However, regardless of how bad it got, Habakkuk was determined to keep his heart from sinking into despair. How? By focusing on the bigness of God rather than the bigness of the problem. Habakkuk responded to the escalating crisis by rejoicing in God. Even in the most horrible bad-to-worse situation, he knew that the God of his salvation would be faithful to see him through.
It’s not easy to be grateful when we face challenging circumstances. It’s even tougher to be grateful when things go from bad to worse. And when the problems pile up and seemingly have no end, that’s when it’s the most difficult to be grateful. It’s also the time when we need gratitude the most.
After my friend finished recounting her distressing laundry list of problems, she threw her hands up in the air and burst into a big smile. “But Mary, guess what?” she concluded, “I’m actually doing alright … I’m so grateful that even when the tornado rips everything from my hands, I still have Jesus!”
I smiled back and nodded in agreement.
Gratitude enabled Habakkuk to triumph in a bad-to-worse situation. It’s helped me through some tough times. It’s helping my dear friend surmount her difficulties. And it can help you with any challenging situation you are facing, too.
Figuratively, when the fig tree in your yard doesn’t bud. When your olive crop fails. When your fields produce no food. When things seemingly go from bad to worse. Even then, you can triumph in the Lord and rejoice in the God of your salvation!
Heavenly Father, please help me be grateful instead of grumbly when hard things come my way. I want to be overcome by Your greatness, not by the size of my problems. Thank You that You are with me and will see me through. Like Habakkuk, I choose to triumph in Yahweh and rejoice in the God of my salvation! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
1 Thessalonians 5:18, “Give thanks in everything, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (HCSB)
Colossians 3:15a, c, “And let the peace of the Messiah … control your hearts. Be thankful.” (HCSB)