We in the West have a tendency to count our temporal blessings far more often than we do any of the spiritual ones. Yet if we had not one temporal blessing to speak of, we would still be blessed beyond measure.
Habakkuk knew this truth; the question today is . . . Do we?
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, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.
Let us fully understand what Habakkuk, who was a member of an agricultural culture, was saying. I’m sure that many of you reading these words are urban dwellers like I am, and we might not immediately realize the horror Habakkuk was describing for anyone in that culture. If all the crops failed and the herds had all died off or fled, the people of Israel would be facing ruin and an awful, lingering death. And yet Habakkuk was saying that even in the midst of utter disaster—when everything around him failed and fell to the ground—he would still be blessed because God was his ultimate blessing.
The condition of Habakkuk’s soul would be marked by rejoicing and joyfulness. Habakkuk would look past his temporal provision to his eternal promise . . . God would always be his Savior.
The only way that we will truly know if we are able to respond like Habakkuk is when we actually lose some blessing of value. When something we value is taken away, how do we respond to God and those around us? When the sky is blue and the clouds are fleecy and the sun is brightly shining, it is easy to speak of the glory of our God. But what happens when the storm winds begin to blow our way? What happens when what we have been holding on to so tightly in this life slips through our clenched fists?
Habakkuk knew the secret to true joy on this side of the grave. He kept his focus on the One who had given him every blessing. Habakkuk knew that everything he had was a gift from his God, and he also knew that the Giver of every gift was infinitely more valuable than all the gifts added up together. Even in losing every temporal blessing, Habakkuk still had the only thing he truly needed: his God!
Sadly, many in the church today find this truth hard to accept. We get so caught up in the temporal blessings God gives us that we begin to look for our identity, hope, purpose, and meaning in the gifts . . . rather than in the Giver. Then when one or more gifts are taken away, we feel like we are adrift out on the open ocean, with no safe harbor in sight.
Where does this find you today? Are you in a season of abundant blessing? Pause and name those blessings one by one, thanking God for all of them. Are you in a season of scarcity and lack? Pause and remember that God has promised to meet your needs, not your wants, and what God has promised He will always fulfill. You are blessed far beyond temporal blessings, so learn to look past the gifts to the Giver of every good and perfect gift. That’s when you will begin tapping into a joy that simply cannot be shaken.
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!