“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.” – Habakkuk 3:17-19

If you follow economic experts who attempt to discern the tea leaves of the future of the US and global economy, you cannot be a completely happy camper. They mostly agree that in 2017 we are headed for a bigger economic bubble-burst than hit the world and especially the US in ’07 and ’08. It is yet to be seen if a new administration can divert it. 

The political partisans who lost the recent election, sourly predict disaster under this new President. Many celebrities in that light previously and vehemently announced their impending departure from the US upon the “unlikely” event of a surprise victory. Absolutely none of them have kept their promise; not unusual for this particular class of characters. If you believe even some of these “expert” prognosticators, however, 2017 will not be a terribly successful year. Rather, the forecast is dire. So what do these predictions do for your own outlook going into a new year?

The diminishment or loss of hope can adversely impact psychological health as you go about your daily responsibilities. If feelings about the future are under a cloud, it impacts your attitude about most everything in life; relationships, family, job, dreams, plans, work, even faith. Faith will be tested; hope, perhaps, even crippled. But do these predictions really take root in your thinking; do they impact your faith? To be honest, you have to say you wrestle with it. It is something which can take a toll on you. The question is this: is your faith able to rise above the fray?

It is what this expression of faith is all about in Habakkuk 3. The situation can appear hopeless, the pantry be empty, the job disappear, cancer arise, house burn, spouse or child become deathly sick, but……..the joy of the Lord in the midst of dire reality will be your strength. It is not only possible, it is real. 

Our hope we are told in the Psalms does not rest “in the strength of the horse or the legs of a man,” it rests and finds true “strength in the fear of the Lord” and a persevering “hope in His unfailing love.” Everything from the world’s perspective can be going to pot, but faith in a faithful God rises above the treachery of failure and the dire predicament of the world’s sinking affairs; it places your feet on the Rock! “He makes me tread on my high places.” Your footing will be as sure as “the feet of a deer,” in the lethal danger of walking through mine fields. 

2017 is certainly unknown. It is venturing into the mystery of tomorrow where no one except God controls what it brings. Often in life “Murphy’s Law” seems to ring true; if anything can go wrong, it will. Perhaps we can cope with the inconsequential, irritating things, but how do we deal with “the floods?” (“The swelling of the Jordan.”) 

This is the reality of life as we know it, so why not put your trust in the hands of the One who truly holds the future. When dire predictions come to fruition there is not much more important to do than survive. But survive how? In bitterness? In whining victimhood? In inconsolable pain? In a weary giving up? Or, by discovering in God a surprising joy, which can “laugh” at the circumstances, and finds refreshment and encouragement in His promises. 

 The Habakkuk promise is a faithful buffer against bad news, against dire predictions, because anything which is thrown against your present and future to darken your hopes and dissuade your faith is far overcome by the loving and merciful God in whom you trust in this life. He will never disappoint. Trust His promise while obeying His commands. Come on 2017! I am ready.

“Therefore, my trust is in the Lord, and not in my own merit; on him my soul shall rest, his Word upholds my fainting spirit: his promised mercy is my fort, my comfort and my sweet support; I wait for it with patience.”

(3rd verse of Martin Luther’s hymn, “From Depths of Woe I Raise to Thee,” 1523)

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