Though the fig tree does not blossom,
and no fruit is on the vines;
though the produce of the olive fails,
and the fields yield no food;
though the flock is cut off from the fold,
and there is no herd in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the Lord;
I will exult in the God of my salvation.
God, the Lord, is my strength;
He makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
and makes me tread upon the heights.
I know this passage. I know it well. I have memorized it. I have memorized a couple different song versions of it. I have sung it in church before. I have clung to it through years of trying to have a baby but finding the blossoms & the fruit failing. I have used it as a frequent reminder that regardless of my physical situation, my soul’s stability remains unshaken — my joy and my strength being grounded in the One who created the mountains and the trees and the animals, storylines and climaxes and rainclouds, life and laughter and suffering and me.
But until last week, I don’t think I had ever gone to the length of putting my own fears, my own troubles, my own sufferings and shadows and dark corners by the means of words into this form.
“Though the _________________________________________________ and there are no ___________________________, though the ___________________________________________ fails and the ___________________________ produces no ___________________________________, though there are no ________________________________________ in the __________________________________ and no __________________________________ in the ____________________________, yet I will rejoice in the Lord….”
So when Mr. Palpant suggested, at our final Lenten lecture meeting last Wednesday, that we fill in these blanks according to the story we are each currently living, I might have (okay, I did) melted into a puddle of weeping at the table in the back of the room. Boy, did it ever hit home. In good, painfully sharp & cutting to the bones, Christ-be-with-me kinds of ways.
In your own path of suffering, of doubt fighting with hope, of walking with the Lord on the heights as well as in the valleys, passing by both sunshine and dark shadows ~ what would your own version of Habakkuk 3:17-19 look like?
This is what I came up with that night, and what the Lord has challenged me to claim with joyful confidence rather than with fear every day since.
Though the miscarriages continue to come and there are no more living children for my arms to hold, though the medical treatments and the prayers for life fail and the pregnancies God puts in my womb produce no more little redheads to nurse on my breasts, though there are no end to the longing in my heart for my family to grow in the home God has given us here on His earth and no more siblings for our children who beseech the Lord for babies in the beauty of their own childlike faith, yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will exult in the God of my salvation. God, the Lord, is my strength; He makes my feet like the feet of a deer, and makes me tread upon the heights.