Stephanie Rische

Stubbing My Toe on Grace

“Even Though” Prayers August 21, 2012

Filed under: Habakkuk — Stephanie Rische @ 8:13 am
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I was once part of a small group that was stuck in a rut, and in an attempt to shake things up, we decided to study one of the minor prophets. On something of a whim, we landed on the book of Habakkuk, not entirely sure what we were stumbling into.

As it happened, the book turned out to be a bit of a downer. In you had to boil down the prophet’s message into a couple of key points, you’d probably end up with something cheery like judgment and destruction. According to some commentaries, one third of the book can be categorized in a genre called “an oracle of woe.” Not exactly what you might call a beach read.

But as our group talked about the book, we were struck by its authenticity—the raw way the author cried out to God about the injustices he saw and begged God to act on behalf of his people. The book of Habakkuk is heart-wrenchingly honest, and achingly beautiful.

Ultimately the prophet didn’t get all his questions answered; he never fully grasped what God was up to. But he concluded with a song of trust—the kind of trust that moves in when human understanding fails.

Even though the fig trees have no blossoms,

and there are no grapes on the vines;

even though the olive crop fails,

and the fields lie empty and barren;

even though the flocks die in the fields,

and the cattle barns are empty,

yet I will rejoice in the Lord!

I will be joyful in the God of my salvation!

—Habakkuk 3:17-18

Sometimes I wonder what Habakkuk would have written if he’d lived several thousand years later, in our era. These days most of us don’t grow fig trees or rely on an olive grove for our livelihood. But such a song of trust rings just as true for us today, regardless of our situation.

Even though the job prospects are drying up

And there is no money in the bank…

 

Even though another treatment has failed

And doctors have exhausted all other options …

 

Even though another month has gone by

And the crib remains empty and barren…

 

Even though another lonely night has passed

And the other side of the bed remains empty…

 

Even though another prayer has been offered

And the heavens reply in stony silence…

 

Yet I will rejoice in the Lord!

I will be joyful in the God of my salvation!

Whatever “even thoughs” you find yourself up against today, may you cling to that ever-gracious “yet.”

 

I’ve taken the challenge of reading the Bible chronologically this year and tracing the thread of grace through it. These musings are prompted by my reading. I’d love to have you join me: One Year Bible reading plan.