Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. GOD, the Lord, is my strength;he makes my feet like the deer’s; he makes me tread on my high places. To the choirmaster: with stringed instruments. (Habakkuk 3:17-19 ESV)
Habakkuk calls God’s people, throughout all history, to trust Him in the times when there is no outward evidence of His care. God, above all things, asks men for faith, and according to Habakkuk, He sometimes even asks for a type of “blind faith.” Periods of waiting and silence are almost always needed to help mature us to the point where faith is sustained even when God’s presence is clouded.
Waiting: Habakkuk takes his “stand,” “stations” himself, and “looks out to see” (2:1), and the Lord instructs the people, “If it (the vision) seems slow, wait for it” (2:3). His determination to “quietly wait” (3:16) is crucial to our Christian living, because waiting is inseparably intertwined with true faith. To wait is to expect God to work. To wait is to be suspicious of our own timing and knowledge, and to throw ourselves on the one whom “speaks and summons the earth from the rising of the sun to its setting” (Ps. 50:1).
Silence: Habakkuk’s prophecy opens with the perception of God’s “silence” before mankind (1:1-4, 12-17) and chapter two closes with an exhortation to mankind to be silent before God (2:20). Our “silence,” even in the midst of confusion and lack of understanding, renders God’s ways holy and just. Silence is contemplation. Silence slows us down. Silence is the product of faith and the affirmation of trust.
In the midst of God’s mysterious ways, His people are called to dwell on His character over and above their circumstances. They are to worship Him not merely for temporal blessing, but rather for His own sake. A proper vision of God awards us a hope for the future and instills in us courage to endure the dismal circumstances with joyous confidence in God’s reliability. To think of God correctly is the highest calling of mankind, and when done, the feet of God’s people will be made like the deer’s, treading on high places. They will be able to rejoice in the LORD, take joy in the God of their salvation, and find strength in Him (3:18-19).