One of my favorite seasons in Seattle is the summer. With the rainy season behind us and several months before it rolls in again, I love soaking up the sweet sunshine. Even though some things can dry up because of little rain, there is so much beauty to this season, whether it’s bushes of lavender, stalks of sunflowers, or vines of blackberries. I try to soak up this season the best that I can because I know it will not last. When the skies cloud back up again, I have to prepare my heart for everything to look lifeless for a little while.
During that time, I often think of Habakkuk 3:17, which reads, “Though the fig tree does not bud and there is no fruit on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though the flocks disappear from the pen and there are no herds in the stalls…” It can be hard to look around and see how everything does not look like it does during the summer season. And if I’m not careful, I can allow the gloom of the skies and the lack of life to bring me down. Even though I know this season will not last, I can find myself struggling to have joy.
This is why the following verse—Habakkuk 3:18—is so important. It declares, “Yet I will celebrate in the Lord; I will rejoice in the God of my salvation!” Habakkuk surveys all the desolation around him but still chooses to put his hope in the Lord. He still chooses to rejoice in the God who provides salvation. This verse always reminds me that even when everything around us seems hopeless, God gives us a reason to rejoice. God remains good and faithful no matter what we might be experiencing. And even though suffering still comes, He promises to make all things new again when Christ returns.
You may know this to be true but still struggle in certain seasons to have hope. Perhaps you are trying to place your joy in the Lord, but find that you are overwhelmed with discouragement. You may even feel like you are drifting away from the Lord because you cannot see His goodness. While Habakkuk 3:17–18 can be encouraging to us, all that comes before these verses can encourage us as well. Habakkuk teaches us that we can be honest with the Lord in our struggle to have hope.
In the first few chapters, Habakkuk does not hold back from what he is experiencing and feeling. Here are just a couple of Habakkuk’s honest words:
How long, Lord, must I call for help and you do not listen or cry out to you about violence and you do not save? — Habakkuk 1:2
Why are you silent while one who is wicked swallows up one who is more righteous than himself? — Habakkuk 1:13b
“How long?” “Why?” We might feel like we can’t ask these questions to the Lord, but Habakkuk shows us that we can. When we can’t see what God is doing, we can express our pain and frustration to the Lord. We can be honest with God about the ways in which it seems like God is not moving. And we can give God all that we are struggling with and feeling through prayer.
This honest prayer is called lament. While there is more to lament than only honest prayer, it is good and comforting to know that God invites us to be honest with Him in this way. Rather than keeping all that we experience inside, we can bring every doubt, accusation, and fear to the Lord. And because God is a good Father, He will receive these prayers with no condemnation. In fact, we see in Habakkuk how God responds to Habakkuk’s complaint. He does not chastise Habakkuk but rather gives him hope with words such as, “For I am doing something in your days that you will not believe when you hear about it” (Habakkuk 1:5b).
So in your struggle to have hope, be honest with the Lord. Give Him all that you are feeling and wrestling with. Do not shy away from expressing to Him your confusion over His actions or the pain your suffering is causing you. And allow this honesty with the Lord to keep you in communion with Him. You may just find that honest lament can be a conduit to renewed hope in the Lord, causing joy to sprout up even in a season of desolation.
Additional resources on lament