In 2017, the opportunity to help people in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey in the US prompted a group of us to travel to Houston. Our goal was to encourage people who’d been impacted by the storm. In the process, our own faith was challenged and strengthened as we stood with them in their damaged church buildings and homes.
The radiant faith exhibited by a number of these people in the wake of Harvey is what we see expressed by Habakkuk at the end of his seventh-century bc prophecy. The prophet predicted that tough times were on the way (1:5–2:1); things would get worse before they got better. The end of the prophecy finds him pondering the potential of earthly losses and the word though makes a threefold appearance: “Though the fig tree does not bud . . . ; though the olive crop fails . . . ; though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls” (3:17).
How do we position ourselves in the face of unimaginable losses such as the loss of health or employment, the death of a loved one, or a devastating natural disaster? Habakkuk’s “Ode for Tough Times” calls us to confident faith and trust in God, who is the source of salvation (v. 18), strength, and stability (v. 19) for yesterday, today, and forever. In the end, those who trust Him will never be disappointed.
How has God met your need during difficult times? How can you encourage others when they face a crisis?
To learn more about the prophet Habakkuk, visit christianuniversity.org/OT226.
The book of Habakkuk is one of the twelve Minor Prophets of the Old Testament, given this label because of the comparatively shorter length of their prophetic works. Habakkuk’s short book contains only three chapters and is a dialogue between the prophet and God, organized around Habakkuk’s prayers or complaints and God’s answers. Because chapter 3 is bracketed by musical notations—(shigionoth, v. 1; “on my stringed instruments,” v. 19), it’s probable that the prophet may have been a Levite and a temple musician. Like other prophets, Habakkuk laments the wickedness of his time. Though Judah experienced a brief period of renewal under Josiah, the people had radically turned away from God under the wicked influence of kings Manasseh and Amon. In our passage today, Habakkuk affirms his trust in God no matter what (vv. 17–19).