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Misdirected Attention

Fifteen seconds of fame. That’s the siren song of the media. Nevertheless, pursuing it often results in looping ten-second sound bites of infamy. It highlights the misunderstanding that can result when the context of our words is left on someone’s cutting room floor. However, in the case of Habakkuk, a truncated quote has led to misdirected attention.

Habakkuk’s Strength

Recently, while studying that prophetic book, I recognized an oft-quoted passage:

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 will I rejoice in the LORD;
I will take joy in the God of my salvation.
(Hab. 3:17-18)

Yet, people frequently omit the next verse, leaving us impressed by strength of the prophet’s resolve in the face of impending suffering. But Habakkuk would point us elsewhere:

God, the LORD, is my strength;
he makes my feet like the deer’s;
he makes me tread on my high places.
(Hab. 3:19a)

Will I Praise You?

Similarly, I sometimes wonder, Would I praise God if I experienced extreme grief, suffering, or persecution? But, my initial impulse is the opposite of what it should be. I tend to look inward to assess somehow the strength of my faith. However, when Habakkuk faced this question, he looked upward to assess the strength and faithfulness of his God.

So, pondering this, I composed the following poem. I hope it encourages you, especially if you are facing difficult times ahead.

Will I Praise You?

Will I praise you when I lie
On a bitter bed of sorrow?
Now with ease I glorify.
Will it be the same tomorrow?

Will I love the hands that wrest
From my heart its dearest treasure?
What will billow from my chest,
When exposed beneath the fissure?

Will I cast my weary soul
On the iron will decreeing
Tearful days of dreadful toll?
Will my faith be firm or fleeing?

Shall eternal wisdom see
Nought the blood of Christ availing,
Rescued sinner borne to be
Just a loss, and mercy failing?

Father, twas your love that sent
Christ, the Son, my guilt enduring,
Poured your Spirit’s power, hence
Peace and love and joy securing.

Fail each pleasant earthly stock,
Pain abounding, even weeping,
Joy I’ll find in God, my rock,
Faithful Lord my spirit keeping.

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