Thursday, November 24, 2011

A Habakkuk 3 Kind of Thanksgiving

Habakkuk 3
17 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,
18 yet I will rejoice in the LORD;
    I will take joy in the God of my salvation.
19 GOD, the Lord, is my strength;
    he makes my feet like the deer’s;
   he makes me tread on my high places.

Holidays can be the hardest times of the year. One friend recently recounted leaving a church service at Thanksgiving because he just couldn't put up with everyone's thankful testimonies when so much was going wrong in his life. Thanksgiving became a catalyst for his crisis of faith. He's emerged from that season, praise God. But I heard him clearly. When you are hurting, American Thanksgiving in conservative Christian culture can be salt on an open wound.

I have a lot of friends who are hurting right now. Financial crises. Spiritual crises. Physical crises. Children walking away from the Lord. Spouses walking away from the Lord. It's a Habakkuk 3 kind of Thanksgiving.

I thank God for including Habakkuk 3 in His inspired Word to us. He's preserved these words, written in an altogether different time and culture. They were words of faith in a barren wasteland when they were first written. And despite the very different political and economic circumstances we face today as 21st century believers, they are words of faith in a barren wasteland for us too.

Words of faith in a barren wasteland. The fig trees aren't blossoming. In fact, there's no fruit on any trees. No field is producing anything. And as if that's not enough, the animals aren't producing either. The stalls are empty. The flocks are cut off. It's barren. The sheer number of things that have gone wrong are evidence not of coincidence. No, we are too familiar with the abilities of our sovereign God to believe this many things going wrong at once is just chance. And THAT escalates our crises of faith. God, have You turned away from me? I'm following You. I love You. I'm serving You. Where ARE You?!

For us in the barren wasteland asking where God is, He answers us from Habakkuk 3. I am here, child. I am here in my Word, communicating to you that you are not the first of my children to spend extended time in the wasteland. You are not alone. And as Habakkuk found me in the wasteland, I am here for you too. There is still joy to be had in me. Take it! Take joy from Me. In Me. I am still, even in the barren wasteland, offering My strength to you. I will make you graceful like a deer in this awful season, standing firm in treacherous places.

Jobs come, and jobs go. Fig trees blossom. Fig trees die. Loved ones grow in faith. Loved ones walk away. But God is transcendent. And we really do, even in the wasteland, have something for which to be very, very thankful. I tell it to myself often--as bad as your circumstances seem on this day, God has not left you as an orphan. He knows where you are, and He has met you there in His Word. Take this day the joy that He freely offers you in Him.

14 comments:

  1. wow, wendy! praise God that you didn't write a sappy piece for today. because you're right-- (actually, God is right)--many of us have to lean hard into God this season right on through christmas and new year's and on and on. BUT HE IS HERE--IMMANUEL, GOD WITH US!! HALLELUJAH!!
    love to you and your family,
    pianomom

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  2. Powerful message! Thank you for it. I have always loved the book of Habakkuk, including the verses in chapter 3. Like you said, "even in the wasteland, we have something for which to be very, very thankful." Thank you for your encouragement today. God is so good.

    Have a blessed Thanksgiving,
    Linda

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  3. Great Wendy...as usual, just what I needed this morning. Thankful for you. Enjoy the day.

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  4. I too am thankful you didn't write something sappy. Several of my friends have lost loved ones this past year and the holiday time is proving difficult. But God is there in the wasteland, in the time of difficulty and loss. Thank you for this reminder.
    -PLN in AK

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  5. This is the exact passage I chose for our Thanksgiving this year. Our first Thanksgiving since our daughter died. We've been in the "wastelands" for a while now, with many different serious problems, all compounded by serious grief. Yet, God is faithful, and we are waking on the heights most weeks. We thank God not for what we have, but for who He is. That will never change.

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  6. Thank you so much.

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  7. Yes, thank you for this continued encouragement from God with what I have been experiencing especially this Thanksgiving week. Thank God for His ability to bring comfort through His Word and His people who faithfully share it!

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  8. Jessica, I am so sorry for your loss. May God comfort you deeply during this first holiday season without your precious daughter.

    Thank you, all, who've commented.

    SundA, love you and see you soon!

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  9. Wendy,
    One of my favorite songs is Nathan Clark George's song "I Will Rejoice" which came straight out of Habakkuk 3. You can listen to the song here: http://www.nathanclarkgeorge.com/music/
    Choose Rise in the Darkness album and then select "I Will Rejoice." I hope you'll be blessed by it.

    Lois

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  10. Thank-you for these words of wisdom Wendy. As my friend said, it is such a relief to read the words of Habakkuk and to know that God hasn't forgotten us in our pain. I continue to struggle to be thankful it the midst of it all but am very thankful for your timely reminder (and we don't even have Thanksgiving in the UK :-)

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  11. Thank you for this wonderful reminder!

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  12. Oh, how I need this truth today! My husband was lost his job this morning. Even in my tears I know that not only is He here, but He gives good gifts. Jesus took the bread and the cup, gave thanks, and broke it for me. How can I not bear this? Will he not also freely give us all things?

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  13. In God's Providence I didn't get a chance to read this until just now. But how I praise God for his timing! Yes, thank you for not writing something sappy. Thank you for your thoughtfulness and tenderness toward the hurting, the broken, and the sorrowful.

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