The sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer; he enables me to tread on the heights.
Do you ever see deer in your neighborhood? Lots of them are living closer to our cities nowadays. When I see deer startled, I’m impressed by how they spring energetically away. This image captures the surprising high note on which the prophet Habakkuk closes his book.
This ending is all the more impressive because the book starts out with a rough cry of despair: “How long, Lord, must I call for help, but you do not listen?” (Habakkuk 1:2). The prophet goes on to ask, in effect, “If you are the sovereign God of the universe, why do the righteous suffer and the wicked prosper?”
If we have ever felt trapped in a spiritually dark place, we may have thought the same things: How long must this go on? Where is God? Is he listening? Why won’t he just answer?
From his dark place, Habakkuk emerges to a newly deepened faith, a faith not dependent on what he actually sees with his eyes. Indeed, he’s prepared for more struggles and waiting; yet he says, “I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.” With this confession of faith on his lips, Habakkuk’s spirit is revived, like the springing, leaping feet of a deer on the hills.
In another time of great darkness and uncertainty for God’s people, God was listening (as always), and he answered in the birth of Jesus Christ, our Savior.
As we await the coming of your Son, O God, we trust in your strength to revive us, that we may rejoice in you, our Lord and Savior. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
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