“I went to sleep with gum in my mouth and now there’s gum in my hair and when I got out of bed this morning I tripped on the skateboard and by mistake, I dropped my sweater in the sink while the water was running and I could tell it was going to be a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.” So begins the classic children’s book by Judith Viorst, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. We’ve all experienced days, weeks, maybe even years when everything goes wrong. But the unchanging nature of God means we can rejoice and worship even during those times. When everything crumbles, even then (especially then!) we can say: “I will be joyful in God my Savior. The Sovereign Lord is my strength” (vv. 18–19).
What could go wrong is vividly described (vv. 16–17). Babylon will conquer Judah as part of God’s judgment (Hab. 1:5–11). But God has guaranteed that their turn will come. Because he trusts in the Lord, Habakkuk can “wait patiently” for that day. Even if the fig tree doesn’t bud, the olive crop fails, and the fields are barren, God is faithful. Even if there are no sheep or cattle in the pens, he will rely on the Lord.
The word “yet” in verse 18 indicates a contrast, and the prophet’s response overflows with faith (vv. 18–19). Despite these images of hardship and disaster, he will rejoice in the Lord. God is all-powerful and sovereign. There’s no way He will fail. His promises are as good as kept. Failure and success are not about us or circumstances. We stand on a mountaintop with feet like a deer, that is, with God we’re secure and victorious!
>> Try writing a personal paraphrase of verses 17–19 from today’s reading. Fig trees not budding might become your basement flooding, for example. Make the situations and pictures personal, so that the joy in God also becomes personal!