Though the fig tree should not blossom,
nor 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 my high places. Habakkuk 3:17-19a ESV
But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. II Corinthians 4:7-11 ESV
Dog Monday belonged to a young man named Jem, and Dog Monday was a faithful dog who was devoted to his master. When Jem went off to fight in World War I, Dog Monday waited at the train station every day for Jem to come home. Jem’s brother Walter died in the war, and the day he died, before the word reached his parents or anyone else in town, Dog Monday howled mournfully, as if he knew what had happened. Jem was reported to be missing in action, and his parents knew that there was almost no hope that he would come home safely from war and imprisonment with the Germans, but Dog Monday kept on waiting at the train station every day. Jem’s family continued to hope that Jem would come home again, because they saw Dog Monday’s faithfulness, and trusted that he would continue to wait as long as he knew that Jem was alive.
This is only a story. The prophet Habakkuk had seen terrible violence and injustice and unfaithfulness to God among his people, and he had heard words of terrible judgment from God. Habakkuk knew that there was little hope for peace or good times, but he still had hope in the Lord. He closed his book with a beautiful poem that talked about fig trees and grape vines withering without their fruit, crops in the fields failing, and flocks and herds of animals dying. This would completely ruin the people of God and their land, and show that the Lord had taken away his blessing from them. But Habakkuk still had hope, because he trusted in the faithfulness and love of God rather than in the terrible circumstances he knew he would soon see. He compared his trust in the Lord to God bringing him to the top of high mountains like a sure-footed deer.
We also sometimes face terrible circumstances that seem hopeless. We can’t see anything good coming out of the sad times we face, and God doesn’t seem to hear or answer our prayers. When we face a situation like this, God sends us his Holy Spirit to help us to see beyond our circumstances and to find hope in God’s faithfulness and love. The Lord showed us his faithfulness in the worst of circumstances, when his Son Jesus faced a terrible death on the cross. When Jesus died, it seemed as if there could be no hope, but Jesus didn’t stay dead. He died so that our sins could be forgiven, and he rose again from the grave to defeat death for all his people Because of what Jesus did, we are God’s people now and forever, and we can be sure that he hears our prayers and will always work for good, no matter how bad things seem.
Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for working for good in the death of Jesus, our Savior. Help us to trust you even when there doesn’t seem to be any hope in our circumstances. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Montgomery, L. M., Rilla of Ingleside Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1921.