What should one do when disaster strikes? When one’s own nation is sinking and enemies are about to invade, when total crop failure are imminent and the financial system collapses? No, this is not about the present day (though it very much applies!). It’s about the situation in the Jewish nation of Judea 2600 years ago, shortly before it was overthrown by Babylon. Habakkuk, God’s prophet, complained first about the corruption in his own nation and then about the drastic measures (foreign invasion) God was going to use to address it.
At the end of this short book of the Old Testament, Habakkuk acknowledges God’s power and wisdom, and he prays a beautiful prayer. I want to adopt for myself his threefold response to impending disaster:
1) Wait patiently for God to set things right.
2) Rejoice in the Lord.
3) Find my strength in God no matter what the circumstances.
(Notice how God is the focus in all of these!)
I will wait quietly for the coming day
when disaster will strike the people who invade us.
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. (Habakkuk 3:16b-19)
Two metaphors represent our hopes for our children as well as for ourselves: roots and wings. We need both! And both are found most beautifully in the Lord.
Roots—Who I am, where I belong, who I connect to.
Let your roots grow down into [Christ], and let your lives be built on him. (Colossians 2:7 NLT)
Wings—What I was made to be, growing, developing, achieving my potential.
But those who trust in the LORD will find new strength.
They will soar high on wings like eagles.
They will run and not grow weary.
They will walk and not faint. (Isaiah 40:31 NLT)
We all know about David’s victory over Goliath (1 Samuel chapter 17). But I am struck with the parallels between this and Jonathan’s daring assault on the Philistines which took place before that (chapter 14).
In both cases, King Saul (Jonathan’s dad) was paralyzed with fear in the face of the threatening Philistine army on one side and his own demoralized and dwindling troops on the other. Twiddling his thumbs and wringing his hands, he was taken unaware when Jonathan took the initiative in an act of faith. And it was the same scenario when David appeared on the scene in answer to Goliath’s challenge.
I love their bold statements:
Jonathan (to his armor bearer): “Let’s go across to the outpost of those pagans. Perhaps the LORD will help us, for nothing can hinder the LORD. He can win a battle whether he has many warriors or only a few!” (14:6)
David (to Goliath): “You come to me with sword, spear, and javelin, but I come to you in the name of the LORD … whom you have defied. Today the LORD will conquer you, and I will kill you and cut off your head… And everyone assembled here will know that the LORD rescues his people, but not with sword and spear. This is the LORD’s battle, and he will give you to us!” (17:45-47)
Jonathan and his companion killed 20 Philistines. The rest panicked and fled, and God sent an earthquake to further terrorize them.
David killed Goliath. The whole Philistine army fled and was totally devastated.
Jonathan recognized in David a man who, like him, who was totally sold out to the God who alone is victorious against all odds. May I follow in their footsteps today, on God’s side and taking each step confident in His guidance, protection, provision and power.