Advent Hope in the Book of Habakkuk

“I heard and my heart pounded,
    my lips quivered at the sound;
decay crept into my bones,
    and my legs trembled.
Yet I will wait patiently for the day of calamity
    to come on the nation invading us.
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.

The Sovereign Lord is my strength;
    he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
    he enables me to tread on the heights” (Habakkuk 3:16-19, NIV).

It’s hard for me to comprehend that for so many centuries, people lived and died and based their hopes on the promise of something far off in the distance. People hoped in a Messiah whose name they did not know. They would die without seeing the promise fulfilled, but they chose to trust in the promise for all who would follow after.

Habakkuk in particular held onto this hope. Basically, he stated that even in the worst case scenario of total crop failure and loss of everything, he would still rejoice in God his Savior. Not even the threat of death was enough to dissuade him from the promises of the prophesies he had heard about all his life. Some he had been privileged to write out and proclaim himself.

Hope deferred makes the heart sick, as it says in one of the Proverbs. It’s one thing to wait, but quite another to wait well and wait in hope. It’s much easier to fall into cynicism and bitterness instead of choosing the joy of a hope not yet seen. It feels a bit like going against the current and defying our human nature to keep trusting in and praying to a God we can’t see, believing in a future we can hardly begin to grasp with our very finite minds.

But the very God who made those promises is more than able to keep us and hold us fast against our own frailties and unbelief. He is able to strengthen our hearts and minds so that we can continue to believe all He has said to us. He will keep us safe against any and all uncertainty and doubts the world can throw at us. Thus we can be joyful, no matter what.

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