8. A Vision of Hope: Habakkuk
Both hardship and flourishing can deepen our hope and empower us to live faithfully.
Though the fig tree should not blossom
And there be no fruit on the vines,
Though the yield of the olive should fail
And the fields produce no food,
Though the flock should be cut off from the fold
And there be no cattle in the stalls,
Yet I will exult in the Lord,
I will rejoice in the God of my salvation.
The Lord God is my strength,
And He has made my feet like hinds’ feet,
And makes me walk on my high places.
Habakkuk serves as a prophet to Israel right before the southern kingdom of Judah is taken into exile as punishment for their unfaithfulness to God. Already, other Israelite prophets have confronted Israel in their sin, but Habakkuk is different: he confronts God. Habakkuk complains to God about how horrible life is in Israel: God’s law is being neglected, violence and injustice are rampant, and the leaders are corrupt.
God hears Habakkuk’s lament, and he responds. He says he is going to use Babylon to bring justice on Israel.
But this is not what Habakkuk had in mind! He continues his confrontation, arguing that Babylon is even worse than Israel! How could the invasion of a ruthless army make things right in the land? The people of Babylon have no regard for human dignity or life, and they worship idols instead of God!
God responds to Habakkuk this time with a vision, showing him that he will one day defeat evil, bring justice to all, rescue the oppressed, and save his people.
This vision leads Habakkuk to respond in faith! He concludes that even when the world is falling apart all around him, he can still find strength and joy in God. “Yet I will triumph in the Lord, I will rejoice in the God of my salvation. The Lord God is my strength, and He has made my feet like deer’s feet, and has me walk on my high places,” Habakkuk declares (Habakkuk 3:18-19).
Though he may not fully understand how all the pieces fit together, Habakkuk can depend on God’s justice and wisdom to make things right in the end. He realizes that God is not apathetic towards evil and suffering; God has never abandoned his plan of restoration, and he never will.
Like Habakkuk, we can be prone to doubt God in hard times.
God, do you see my pain?
God, do you care about the brokenness in this world?
God, your ways don’t make sense to me!
Habakkuk was able to possess joy and strength in his hard circumstances because he found hope in God. We can do the same!
The cross is proof that God’s plan of restoration has already begun: with his death and resurrection, Jesus defeated death and God’s renewing power broke into history! This power will see God’s plan through to the end at the dawn of the new creation. As one theologian says, “The resurrection is something of a foretaste, a movie trailer or commercial for God’s ultimate future.” In the new creation, all will be restored, and we will live forever in the all-satisfying presence of God.
So, when you face pain and brokenness, let these circumstances deepen your hope! Let them serve as a contrast to God’s glorious future, making it shine even brighter.
And when you encounter goodness or receive blessings, let these circumstances also deepen your hope! Let them serve as a foretaste to God’s glorious future, making you long even more for this coming reality.
In times of both hardship and flourishing, new-creation hope motivates faithful living. It directs our efforts towards the things that truly matter, and it gives us the power to persevere.
RESPOND: Take a moment to ask God to give you a fresh sense of hope in your circumstances, that you might be invigorated to live faithfully.