I’ve been battling some pretty big depression for the last few weeks. I could give you quite a list of contributing factors (feel free to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’re curious or given to prayer; I’m more than happy to talk about it) – but that is not the point of this post.
Sometimes, crawling through a spiritual and emotional time where it feels like the air is black tar is what it means to live the parable life. It is the practice of gratitude, even when the usual emotions which accompany it are a gazillion miles away. To the right is my icon of gratitude for today: a glamour shot of my husband’s recent close encounter with a deer.
Back in the `70’s, we sang a happy-clappy version of Habbakuk 3:17-19 that sounded weirdly like the song “The Farmer In The Dell”. We’d sing Habbakuk’s list of coming death and famine – God’s judgement – as if it were a list of pesky little annoyances, along with the upbeat chorus that promised it would all be OK. Though many of us sang that song out of great pain, there was always something about that perky tune that made it sound like we were praising God for helping us with really grim stuff like not being able to find a good parking place at the mall. But I digress…
Read the entirety of Habbakuk 3. It really is not the kind of thing to which you’d want to clap along. Habbukuk has been given a message of the kind of wholesale judgement that was going to mean great physical suffering. He intercedes even as he prophesies by asking God, “In wrath remember mercy” (vs. 2). What Habbakuk hears in his soul from God, combined with what sees as he observes the decaying world around him, would be enough to make most of us want to jump off a cliff.
And perhaps Habbakuk did feel like that: “I heard and my heart pounded, my lips quivered at the sound; decay crept into my bones, and my legs trembled. Yet I will wait patiently for the day of calamity to come on the nation invading us” (vs. 16). That ‘day of calamity’ was going to come on this invading nation AFTER God allowed them to first decimate Habbakuk’s friends, family – and nation. I think Habakkuk was prophesying the kind of stuff that would be very costly not just to “someone else” later, but to himself, in his lifetime.
Rejoicing in the Lord in Habbakuk’s context does not mean clapping along to The Farmer In The Dell-style melody. It meant committing to hold on to a deeper reality – the goodness and certain salvation of God. It meant gratitude, even as despair threatens to suck every bit of a whispered thank You down its insatiable black hole.
If you’re having a rough time of it this holiday season, let me know at the e-mail address above. It would be an honor to pray for you.