On October 29, 1929, an event took place that shook our nation and the world. It was on that date that the New York Stock Exchange experienced the worst financial panic ever seen in the history of the United States of America, the stock market crash of 1929. Panic ensued as investors began to sell their stocks, resulting in a dollar loss of $25 billion, which would be about $319 billion in today’s economy. There were rumors of investors jumping out of windows which, although they were untrue, illustrated the devastation felt by so many.
In the days of the prophet Habbakuk, Israel’s entire agricultural system would have been represented by three crops: figs, grapes, and olives. Economic success rested on these crops, as well as on livestock such as sheep and cattle. The loss of just some of these things likely would have been as catastrophic as a stock market crash like the one that occurred in 1929. So, when the Babylonians captured Jerusalem, and Israel faced the complete failure of these crops and total loss of sheep and cattle, one would expect the same kind of panic to have ensued. Although there likely were some in Israel who panicked, Habbakuk trusted God. Look at what this prophet writes in Habbakuk 3:17-18 (NLT):
Even though the fig trees have no blossoms, and there are no grapes on the vines; even though the olive crop fails, and the fields lie empty and barren; even though the flocks die in the fields, and the cattle barns are empty, yet I will rejoice in the LORD! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation!
Habbakuk knew that inner peace did not depend on the success of crops or livestock. Inner peace came from God. And because he knew that inner peace that only God can give, Habbakuk rejoiced despite the failure of those important crops. He was joyful despite the fact that the sheep had died in the fields and there were no cattle in the barns. Despite the circumstances, Habbakuk rejoiced in the Lord and found joy in the God of his salvation. He worshiped God despite what was going on all around him.
When we face circumstances that threaten to drag us down, that cause panic to begin to set in and doubts to arise, we need to look to the example set by Habbakuk. We need to face our circumstances, face our doubts, and then take them to the Lord. And we need to worship Him despite what we feel and despite what we see. We need to rejoice in the God who, because of His great love for us, has provided for our salvation. Our circumstances may not change, but when we rejoice in the Lord at all times, when we give our circumstances to Him, He will give us inner peace, a peace that surpasses all understanding (Philippians 4:4-7).