Though the fig tree may not blossom,
Nor fruit be on the vines;
Though the labor of the olive may fail,
And the fields yield no food;
Though the flock may be cut off from the fold,
And there be no herd in the stalls—18
Yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
I will joy in the God of my salvation
Habakkuk 3:17-18 (NKJV)
The verse in context shows that there were those who were complaining that God wasn't acting quickly enough. Habakkuk didn't understand either - he had questions and doubts. But though he began with complaint, he ended with rejoicing. Chapter 1:2 (NKJV) says, "O LORD, how long shall I cry, and You will not hear?" But at the end of the book Habakkuk says, "The LORD God is my strength;He will make my feet like deer’s feet,and He will make me walk on my high hills" (3:19 NKJV). He began by complaining and he ended by rejoicing. What happened between the beginning of the book of Habakkuk and the end? Some might say, "Obviously things must have changed." But did they? Look at chapter 3:17-18 (NKJV):"Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines ... yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation." The basis of complaining was still there. The very things Habakkuk had complained about - the fig tree wasn't blossoming, there was no fruit, no herd in the stalls - and yet he was rejoicing! He wasn't complaining now. What changed his mind?
We need to see the nature of Habakkuk's complaints:1) He Complained about God's slowness:
"O Lord, how long shall I cry?" (1:2) Have you ever asked the question: why is God slow? One reason is that God sees the end from the beginning. Knowing how it's going to end up, He is in no hurry. Another reason is that time is on His side. The Bible says, "One day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day" (2 Peter 3:8). God is in no hurry. He is patient.Very often we are glad that God is patient. Aren't there times when we thank Him for being slow to anger and rich in mercy? How would we like it if God stepped in the moment we sinned? The time comes later when we blush and say, "God, I am sorry. I was wrong."
And God says,"I knew you were wrong, but I knew you would eventually see it."
Then we say, "Thank you, Lord, for being so patient with me."
2) Habakkuk complained that God did nothing while injustice thrived:
"Why do You make me look at injustice? Why do you tolerate wrong?" (1:3) For a long time God didn't answer. He was in silent.
But then, at last, God stepped in. He told Habakkuk that He would send an evil nation, the Chaldeans, to destroy His people. There does come a time when God acts. One after another the prophets all hoped to see the coming of the Messiah, and eventually, after hundreds of years the Messiah came. As Paul put it:"When the fullness of time was come, God sent forth His Son, made of a woman, under the law" (Galations 4:4). In Chapter 2, there were three things that consoled Habakkuk:
a) He could see that God saw what he saw:
The Lord answered him and said, "Write the vision and make it plain on tablets, that he may run who reads it." (2:2 NKJV). What a relief to know that God see!
And that is what God said to Moses: "I have surely seen the affliction of my people" (Exodus 3:7). Nothing is more consoling than to know that God sees.
b) Habakkuk knew that though full intervention might not come as soon as he wanted:
it would nevertheless definitely come (2:3). There is an appointed time. Maybe it's a little longer than we want it to be, but wait for it, it will come. That knowledge gave Habakkuk a good feeling.
c) The understanding that God imputes righteousness to the man or woman who lives by God's faithfulness (2:4).
There are many things we may not understand and don't know why He haven't stepped in sooner. But we are trusting Him ... We sense that behind the clouds the sun is shinning and God sees us. He says, "I like it when you trust me that way."At the end of the book of Habakkuk the prophet is a changed man. We see his confidence in the strength of the Lord. (3:17-19). Are you looking for the fig tree to give figs before you can praise the Lord? Are you waiting for everything to fit in before you start praising the Lord? If that is so, then turn in your badge now and give up. As Proverbs 24:10 says,"If you falter in times of trouble, how small is your strength!" Here Habakkuk who still had all these complaints but yet said, "I will rejoice"
Nothing changed outwardly. The basis for Habakkuk's complaints was still there, the injustices were still there. Nothing happened to them, but a lot happened to him. Habakkuk was given grace to trace the rainbow through the rain. Habakkuk saw something we all need to see: that grace will always be there to keep us one step ahead of the enemy. At the beginning when he talked about the Babylonians, he said,"Their horses are swifter than leopards" (1:8), but now he says, "God will make my feet like the feet of a deer." (3:19). Whereas horse can run fast, a deer can climb to places a horse cannot reach. As Moses said, " ...your strength will equal your days." (Deuteronomy 33:25). Things may not get better around us - but a lot can happen to us - and that changes everything!
(An extract from Worshiping God - R.T. Kendall)