“Though the fig tree may not blossom, Nor fruit be on the vines; Though the labor of the olive may fail, And the fields yield no food; Though the flock may be cut off from the fold, And there be no herd in the stalls— Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy 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
“Don’t you have better ways to spend your time?”
I expect this question from the pro-abortion crowd. I hear it often from the women and men we are counseling to choose life as they swarm like angry bees into the abortion hive. They do not want to be waylaid. They do not want to arouse self-doubt or conflict in their psyche. They would prefer we not be there, a thorn in their conscience. They lash out in frustration with this question when we show up day after day.
I know many of us have likely thought the same thing.
I have limited time, so I should be involved in the things that yield the greatest return of my efforts?
I want to make a difference…a greater difference.
When tangible fruit of our efforts are few and far between, these sorts of issues begin to occur more regularly. Teams dwindle. Discontent can grow.
We can counsel till we are blue in the face about how we are called to speak for those who cannot. We are not called to the results; that is God’s work.
However, to those who are usually asking me this question, they have heard that response countless times. It does not seem to change their angst, their
sense of futility.
I first examined the Habakkuk passage above when I asked a woman facing breast cancer what encouraging scripture I could add to a painting I made for her. She cited that passage. This was before her double mastectomy, reconstructive surgery, and intense bouts of chemotherapy.
I read the passage and was literally dumbfounded. My friend was about to enter a terrifying, life-threatening experience…and THIS was the encouragement she needed? ALL MAY FAIL, yet she would focus on praising God.
I realized this is a level of faith that FEW truly possess. We say we do…but when the chips are down, we revert to begging God to change our situation, heal, provide miracles, do SOMETHING that makes our lives better and easier.
This is NOT Habakkuk’s prayer. His focus is truly the ONLY focus that will satisfy no matter what curve balls life flings at us.
We are called to REJOICE in the Lord.
Not run from the disappointments.
Not plead for cessation of the struggle.
Not wallow in pity and questions of self-worth or of how to spend our valuable time, which BY THE WAY, is a gift from God.
Not question His calling.
Not question our circumstances and how far they fall from our desires.
We are to recognize these key truths:
- The fruit on the vine is HIS gift…and He MAY withhold it.
- Our labor may fail, may seem in vain.
- We may feel cut off, isolated, alone.
- There may be no comfort around us and our “stalls” are empty.
- NO MATTER IF ONE OR ALL OF THE ABOVE are true, we are to REJOICE.
- Our rejoicing is NOT in our comfort, our fulfillment, our ease, the fruit we see, the friends we
find all around us…but in OUR CREATOR.
- We are to find JOY in our salvation…not in how useful we are to God and His various ministries.
- God is our strength.
- God is the one that gives us the ability to walk in the high places. He is also the one that sometimes expects us to walk faithfully in the low places. In either case, He is the one that empowers every step.
I do not know how else to adequately answer those who struggle because the fruit of their labor is not what they hope for.
Praise God. Walk faithfully with Him whether there is fruit or not. Trust Him and find joy in Him.
Is there a better way to spend your time?
The only way to spend our time is with Him, in obedience to His call, and it is not going to change because it is not what we hoped or expected.