Habakkuk. An Old Testament prophet whose name no one is sure how to pronounce. My favorite Old Testament professor, Dr. Donald Gowan, wrote a terrific book about the prophet and his times. I like what he has to say.
The setting of his book is stark and dramatic. Habakkuk is standing on top of the rampart that surrounds Jerusalem. When he turns and looks within the Jewish capitol, he sees political infighting and back-stabbing. He watches the most needy wandering the streets and the leaders of the land cowering in their homes and hoarding their wealth. When Habakkuk turns and looks up at the mountain ridges surrounding Jerusalem, he can all but hear an aggressive and brutal army about to crest the ridge and lay siege to the Holy City.
Decaying within and assaulted from without, could the situation be more bleak?
Yet, toward the end of his brief, beautiful book, Habakkuk offers hope to his people:
I hear, and my body trembles;
my lips quiver at the sound;
rottenness enters into my bones;
my legs tremble beneath me.
Yet I will quietly wait for the day of trouble…
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: 16-19
We look into our nation whose businesses and malls are closed, whose parks and sidewalks are mostly empty. Our economy is about to go on life-support. And no matter how hard we look, we cannot see the invisible virus that is assaulting us and nations around the world. Like Habakkuk, fear may have a chokehold on our courage;
our bellies may trembles and churn.
Listen to our brother! Rejoice – rejoice! – in the Lord. God - no one else; God - nothing else; is our strength.
Let our feet take us to high places. Let our faith rise above our fears and anxiety. Let Christ, who is the Light of the World;
Christ, whose light the darkness cannot extinguish; let Christ lead you, lead all of us,
through this dark valley toward light and life.
Live in hope, sisters and brothers. As the man says,
Behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.
Peace be with you,