Eugene Peterson’s book Eat this Book teaches us to chew on a passage of scripture, digest it, and then put it to use in practical ways. In this passage from Habakkuk 3, the writer reminds us that even though everything in our lives is terrible, we can be full of joy, counting on God to provide everything we need. Use this passage to help you find comfort and peace.
Habakkuk 3: 17 -19 (MSG)
Historical Background of the Passage
The Old Testament book of Habakkuk reflects an exceedingly traumatic time in the history of God’s people. The focus of his prophecy is the developing power of the Chaldeans. A contemporary of Jeremiah, Zephaniah, and Nahum, Habakkuk also notes the corruption of King Jehoiakim. which deepened the spiritual crisis in Judah. Idolatry and immorality have been come comfortable in Judah and evil is rampant among God’s people.
The Spiritual Formation Bible notes that we complain “‘It just isn’t right when family, friends and leaders whom we expect to act honorably and for our welfare, betray our trust.’ Our sense of betrayal deepens when we witness transgressors enjoy the fruits of their wrong doing.” Like us, Habakkuk struggles to understand why God does not hold them accountable sooner.
Praying with Habakkuk 3: 17 -19
These three verses conclude Habakkuk’s struggle with God’s ways. In the preceding chapters, he has come to understand that God will not answer his questioning prayers immediately and becomes prepared to wait for God’s timing. In chapter 2: 20, Habakkuk gives us one of the most popular answers for anxiety in Scripture: “But the Lord is in his holy temple; let all the earth keep silence before him.”
We, too, are living through traumatic times: a world-wide pandemic and the resulting problems: economic problems, unemployment, food insecurity, boredom, isolation, and grief, as well as a former president whose lies and disinformation still cause division and social unrest. Use these beautiful verses from The Message to help you find the peace that Habakkuk found.
(17) “Though the cherry trees don’t blossom
and the strawberries don’t ripen,
Though the apples are worm-eaten
and the wheat fields stunted,
(18) Though the sheep pens are sheepless
and the cattle barns empty,”
- What is is causing pain and discouragement or frustration, or anger in your life?
- What’s missing in your life?
- Tell God how you are feeling.
- Ask God’s forgiveness for your impatience, your quick tongue, your bad behavior, or your lack of faith.
“I’m singing joyful praise to God.
I’m turning cartwheels of joy to my Savior God.
(19) Counting on God’s Rule to prevail,
I take heart and gain strength.
I run like a deer.
I feel like I’m king of the mountain!”
- Turn your concerns into thanksgiving to God for caring for you and for never giving up on you. Find a way to turn a “cartwheel of joy” – sing or draw or share your renewed understanding that God is here in the midst of it all.
- Express your renewed trust that God remains in charge and that you can feel safe in God’s Kingdom.
Note: Eugene Peterson translates the Biblical instructions for this passage: “For congregational use, with a full orchestra.” Perhaps playing some instrumental music before, after, or while you pray or finding a hymn to read or sing will help these verses come alive for you.