One thing I appreciate about God’s Word is its realism. Neither narratives nor instructional passages sugarcoat human sin or suffering. How special to me are those texts that include both lament to and praise of God by someone hurting, even when there seems to be no circumstantial basis for trust!
Such a passage is Habakkuk 3:17-19: “Though the fig tree should not blossom, and there be no fruit on the vine; though the yield of the olive should fail, and the field produce no food; though the flock should be cut off from the fold, and there be no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the God of my salvation. The Lord God is my strength.”
Habakkuk could write those words because no matter what, He knew God. He knew that nothing could shake or alter his salvation. Perhaps he understood that this life is not all there is. There is no doubt that despite his current trial, he knew from experience that the Lord would sustain him.
A few years ago, after reading these verses, I wrote my own personal version of Habakkuk 3:17-19. Obviously, my writing is not divinely inspired in the same way as the prophet’s, and this is not an attempt to “improve Scripture.” Rather, it’s my attempt to apply this text to what I was experiencing at the time.
No Matter What
Though I often stand just a step away from the abyss of crippling depression,
and emotional frailty dogs all of my days,
and hypersensitivity makes me easily hurt;
Though my relationship with my adult son with Aspergers isn’t as close as I want it to be,
and I fail to apply in relation to him the knowledge I’ve accumulated about his disorder, leaving me frustrated;
Though I often don’t sleep well and it’s difficult to make it through the afternoons at work;
Though sharp pain sears through my spine daily, and it’s tough to stand as I teach,
and I can no longer handle our yard work…
Yet I will exult in the Lord who weans me from earthly comforts
and cultivates in me more of a longing for heaven.
I will rejoice in the God of my salvation,
for no kind of pain can eclipse or void what Jesus did for me on the cross.
In all this, no matter what, the Lord is my strength.
If you were writing your version of Habakkuk 3:17-19, what trails or setbacks would be in your lines beginning with “Though…”?
What reasons for rejoicing could you add to my final lines?
Update: Since I wrote this in 2013, an exercise regimen (especially swimming) to strengthen my core and back muscles, plus a 30-pound weight loss, have alleviated a majority of my daily back pain. The spinal degeneration still limits what I can do, but the burden of pain is far less. Whether it’s emotional or physical issues, I will never stop striving for better health. Nor will I stop thanking God for the benefits He gives that no circumstance can take away (see Psalm 103 and Ephesians 1:3-14).
As John Piper put it, “A Christian is as secure as the blood of Christ is precious.”
May you revel in the Lord’s love this week–no matter what.