Thursday, September 01, 2005

Habakkuk's got it!

My great relationship with a man who has been with Jesus for the best part of 2700 years began a few years ago when I was asked to speak on something from the Old Testament. I had quite a choice but in order to narrow it down I enquired of the erstwhile Mr. Bish to see what he thought might be a good idea. I wasn't dissapointed, as a day or so later a brief (and very good) outline of Habakkuk arrived in my inbox. And I was hooked! But there is one thing particularly that stuck out in my mind. We pick up Habakkuk speaking in 3vv17-19 (ESV)

"Though the fig tree should not blossom,
nor the fruit be on the vines,
the produce of the olive fail,
and the fields yield no food,
the flock be cut off from the fold
and there be no herd in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the LORD;
I will take joy in the God of my salvation.
GOD, the Lord, is my strength;
he makes my feet like the deer's
he makes me tread on high my places"

I found in these verses something amazing, an attitude I didn't think possible. Habakkuk rejoiced while all around him things went decidedly pear shaped. Habakkuk's situation (which wasn't good to begin with in chapter 1) had got worse, and now he had the threat of a Babylonian invasion on the horizon if not already coming into view. But he rejoiced.

I didn't understand this. How could he be happy when his world was falling to pieces, I thought. But then the Holy Spirit helped me see where his joy was. He rejoiced in the LORD. He would take joy in the God of his salvation. He was in control and over all these things though it might not look like it. He was in His holy temple (2v20) and He would come again in person to judge and to save his people, just as he had done in the past (chapter 3vv1-16)

Habakkuk was filled with joy even in the darkest circumstances becasue his joy wasn't dependent on what he could see around himself. His joy was rooted in the faith which he had in the one true God. He could see past reality to the greater reality of a universe ruled by God who promised that the righteous would live by their faith (2v4). And Habakkuk had faith in his God, that in His wrath He would remember mercy (3v2), that Yahweh was his salvation (3v18) and his strength (3v17). Habakkuk's vision of God was the source of his joy.

This for me was the first step on the path of Christian Hedonism, for I saw what it meant to have joy in God. A joy that nothing on the outside can take away, and a joy that increases as I find out more and more of all God is for me in Jesus Christ. It's a joy that we need to work hard at cultivating with the strength God supplies, but that we don't need to manufacture. And as God is constant so our joy can be as well.

I'll be honest, I don't always feel wonderfully joyful about how good God is and I think that's becasue I lose sight of him and look too much to the world. I go after There are things in the world that promise me joy and fail me. I chase short term happiness becasue I feel it might be better but I get bored of. I place my faith in other things and not God and it all goes pear shaped. But every time I come back to him and see his supremecy in all things in my life and the world about me the joy comes flooding back.

Habakkuk got it. He found that joy came to those who had faith in an awesome God. I want to grow in my faith and know Jesus more so that when the fig tree does not blossom in my life, I can rejoice in the LORD and that when the fruit isn't on the vines in my garden I will take joy because God is in control and will be my strength. I want to get it and enjoy it too.