I love the book of Habakkuk in the Bible. I love it for a lot of reasons. One of the reasons, to be honest, is because it’s short. You can get a full grasp of beginning to end in one sitting. I love it because it’s real. Habakkuk is questioning God on some things. Questioning without doubting…that’s an important distinction. I also love the book because it ends up with this beautiful verse that is often quoted:
“Though the fig tree not blossom and there be no fruit on the vine,
though the labor of the olive may fail, and the fields yield no food, and there be no herd in the stalls-
Yet I will rejoice in the God of my salvation.
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.”
Habakkuk 3: 17-19
To picture someone who has experienced great loss hoping and rejoicing and not wallowing in the depths, but ‘walking on the high hills’, all the while trusting God for every step is a beautiful visual. I’ve always loved that picture. But here’s what makes me love the book of Habakkuk all the more: his name means “embrace, cling.” Yesterday morning as I read up on Habakkuk, I couldn’t help but smile as I read that his name is derived from the verb habaq, which means embrace. So his name means, “one who embraces” or “one who clings”.
Why does that encourage me to the core? Because to have hope, to have faith, to rise above the depths of loss and struggle and uncertainty of why God has allowed certain things, one must be very good at clinging. Clinging to hope is a tenacious, determined effort. It is a determination to hold so tightly knowing that your very survival may depend on that clinging.
The word “cling” brings up some word pictures in my mind. One makes me laugh and although I’m a little embarrassed to share it, here goes. In the elementary school gym, we had a rope that went from the floor to the very high ceiling. Periodically, the P.E. teacher would require us to attempt to climb that rope. I was one of the only girls who could climb to the top and touch that very high ceiling. Why? Because I was determined to cling to that rope with everything I had. I would cling and climb. Kind of like Habakkuk: cling to the hope in the Lord, climb to the heights and rejoice.
The other word picture that it brings to my mind is much more sweet. One of the greatest gifts in my life has been to be a mom six times over. The early years were so busy, but so precious. When there was a need, a fear, a time when my children were aware that something was so not right, they would run and cling. To what? To me. There is nothing like the vulnerability of a child who knows there is a deep need and seeks out one who loves them who will cover, protect, and seek to meet that need, or at least comfort in the absence of it being met. What a picture of how we are to be with the One who loves us more than we could ever imagine. We run to our God with our needs, loss, aches, and we cling, knowing that He is One who loves us and knows what is best.
One more thought: I can remember like it was yesterday, the joy and feeling of satisfaction that would come when I would cling to that rope in the elementary school gym and touch that high ceiling. For each of us that reached the ‘heights’ it was a victory worthy of celebration. So it is with clinging to hope and getting to that point of rejoicing in the Lord. There is an ache and grief with loss that goes so deep. But to rise above, we must cling to hope and get to the point where we choose to rejoice. We choose to rise above and not wallow in the depths, but seek to rise to the heights, to ‘walk on the high hills” and allow Him to be our strength. We choose to say, “Yet” (I acknowledge the loss, the grief, the circumstance, but I choose to move on with a “yet”),” I will rejoice in the Lord. I will joy in the God of my salvation.” (Habakkuk 3:18)
and then? “God will be my strength. God will make my feet like the feet of a deer.” Then? “He will make me walk on the high hills…” Somehow, things look quite a bit different from the heights than they do in the valley. Just a few thoughts on the book of Habakkuk from one who is learning to cling to the One who is worthy of our Hope, our faith, our praise.