This prayer was sung by the prophet Habakkuk:
I have heard all about you, Lord.
I am filled with awe by your amazing works.
In this time of our deep need, help us again as you did in years gone by.
And in your anger, remember your mercy…
Even though the fig trees have no blossoms,
and there are no grapes on the vines;
even though the olive crop fails,
and the fields lie empty and barren;
even though the flocks die in the fields,
and the cattle barns are empty,
yet I will rejoice in the Lord!
I will be joyful in the God of my salvation!
The Sovereign Lord is my strength!
He makes me as surefooted as a deer,
able to tread upon the heights.
(For the choir director: This prayer is to be accompanied by stringed instruments.)Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Habakkuk 3:1-2, 17-19 (NLT, my emphasis)
I frequently mention J. Lee Grady and his articles in this devotion place. He wrote another good article, When Life Gets Tough, It’s Time for Shigionoth! from this third chapter of Habakkuk.
Habakkuk is praying. He looks around at the world around him and he hears God tell him that the consequences of the choices the people have made mean that it’s going to be a while before there is restoration. Habakkuk is struggling. He reminds God of His mercy. Then Habakkuk tells God â€“ â€œI’m going to praise You, LORD!â€
I can read this passage and nod my head. I know that Habakkuk is right. It is much easier to nod and agree when I don’t paste my life into those last verses…
Even though there’s no money for birthday presents or power bills or gas or rent, I will rejoice in God!
Even though I am praying for ______, who has cancer and we’ve heard no encouraging report, I will rejoice in God!
Even though I am alone, I will rejoice in God!
(These are all prayer requests I’ve heard this week.)
WHY would I or should I praise God in these situations? Am I delusional?
I praise God â€“ because He is. He was. He will be. I mean that God was here before the difficulties in my life. He didn’t ignore me. Based on history, He probably prevented worse and strengthened me to make it to this point. God is still here today. Right now, He is holding out His hand to guide me through these days, up the rocky paths, and comfort me in the darkness. And tomorrow, whatever comes next, He will be there, too.
Jesus set the example that we come together as His Body to praise God and support each other in tangible ways (Acts 2:42-47). He did not mean for church to be a superficial social club where everyone is â€œfineâ€ but a â€œclinic or hospitalâ€ where He, as the Great Physician, would prescribe treatment and we would carry out that plan through the giving of our time, talents, tithes, and offerings. We have been given â€œfreelyâ€ and so Jesus told us to give to others just as freely (Matthew 10:8).