Even if the fig tree does not blossom, and there is no fruit on the vines, even if the yield of the olive fails and the fields produce no food, even if the flock is cut off from the fold, and there are no cattle in the stalls, Yet I will choose to rejoice in the Lord; I will choose to shout in exultation in the victorious God of my salvation! The Lord God is my strength, my source of courage, my invincible army; He has made my feet steady and sure like hinds’ feet and makes me walk forward with spiritual confidence on my high places of challenge and responsibility.
Nine years ago, I began the life-changing, daily journey of living with chronic illnesses. I can’t say this journey has been easy or enjoyable, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything because of what I’ve learned (and am learning) in it. These verses from Habakkuk 3 delineate one of the lessons God has been faithful to teach (and to keep teaching) this exceedingly stubborn student – the lesson of choosing to trust Him and His Sovereignty and His plan instead of worrying.
I’ve wasted way too many years of playing the what-if question game of worry (and still struggle with it, including this morning about posting this devotional!). I still find myself wanting to choose the default of worry with what-if questions like “what if insurance stops paying for my medicines? What if the medicines stop working? What if I have to use a wheelchair all of the time?” and so on and so forth in that vicious cycle of trying to account for every possible outcome.
Honestly, I just want to be in control and I don’t think I’m alone in this. This quote sums it up for me – “control is a drug and we are all hooked”.
Yes, I know the verses from Matthew and Luke and Philippians and the many other places that tell me not to worry and to remember the sparrows and the flowers and such. But my mind and heart keep right on fingering through the worry beads of those what-if questions until God gently reminds me yet again that only He is in control, only He is Sovereign, and only in trusting Him can I know the peace, calm, security, rest, freedom, hope, courage, joy, and strength of choosing to think like Habakkuk with the even-if’s.
Habakkuk told of the worst case scenario for an agrarian society – empty fields and barns – and he trusted God with those even if’s. Shadrach/Meshach/Abednego in Daniel 3 did the same with their even-if of the fiery furnace; the sons of Korah chose the even-if of Psalm 46 and Paul in Romans 8 and so on…
This makes me ask – if they can do it, why can’t I choose even-if thinking? and why can’t all of us as Christians choose even-if thinking?
Even if we are thrown into the fiery furnace
Even if our barns and fields are empty
Even if the earth gives way and the mountains be thrown into the sea
Even if suffering or disability or death comes
God is there. God is able. God is in control.
God alone is faithful to every single one of His promises all of the time. He alone will bring to completion the good work He has begun in us. He alone will provide so that we lack no good thing. He alone will make our feet steady and sure like the hinds’ feet for our high places. He alone will make our paths straight as we trust Him without leaning onto our own understanding. He alone will establish the work of our hands. He alone is our refuge and strength. He alone is our very present help in time of trouble. He alone is in control in the even-if‘s of our lives.
even-if* – original thought attributed to “The Scars That Have Shaped Me” by Vaneetha Rendall Risner who also cited Joni Eareckson Tada on this mode of thinking
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written by and copyrighted to Beth Madison, Ph.D., 2021.