In completing our reading of Habakkuk we noticed the ‘footnote’ that concludes the last verse, “To the choirmaster …” this indicates that at least the last three verses are a hymn or song. It has always been in our hymn book, yet, for many years we have rarely heard it sung. It seems to us that we need to renew our acquaintance with it for its words will be very appropriate if, as we fear, this world experiences the increasingly drastic effects of the climate change.
These are the words of Habakkuk’s song of rejoicing! “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” (3:17-19).
Such a time of extreme stress would be a great challenge to the strength of our faith. Both James and Peter made similar points in this week’s readings. James said, “Let … the rich (boast) in his humiliation … blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial …” (1:10,12) and Peter stated that when “trial comes upon you to test you … rejoice insofar as you share in Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed …” (1 Peter 4:12-14).
And today we had these powerful words in his second letter. He lists the qualities a true believer must develop and adds, “if these qualities are yours and are increasing they keep you from being ineffective and unfruitful … Therefore … be all the more diligent to make your calling and election sure, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall” (1:8,10).
And what are these qualities that we should practice? “Make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love.” A really good musician practices a lot! How much will you and I rejoice if we practice “these qualities”?