This morning I read the book of Habakkuk. It’s an appropriate book to read in a time of fear and suffering. As I watched the news last night and communicated with my Ukrainian student in class, I realized in a fresh way the suffering happening. And I thought about how it might not get better. In fact, things might get worse.
Are we prepared? Are we strengthened in our spirits to persevere through whatever hard things come our way?
As I asked these questions, I remembered Habakkuk. He is writing in fear and confusion about the “day of trouble” when war and invasion threaten God’s people. Nothing makes sense. Why is God allowing this? Why is there suffering? In the midst of such existential questions, we learn of God’s sovereignty and the need for our patience and trust. We learn that God sees what we don’t see and works out a plan we cannot understand yet. So Habakkuk concludes with, not anger, frustration, or despair, but with rejoicing.
He writes these words in Habakkuk 3: 17-19 that can apply in a profoundly personal way (when we have personal suffering and disappointments) but also in a larger way to what may happen to us as a community, nation, or world in days to come.
Though the fig tree should not blossom,
nor fruit be on the vines,
the produce of the olive fail
and the fields yield no food,
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.
I pray we feel like deer on high places today.