Blogging with Habakkuk (23) – Trusting God No Matter What

(Part 23 in a series of posts on Habakkuk.)

Habakkuk 3:17-18

How do you exercise faith in God even during the worst of times? The first thing you can do is wait patiently for God even when you are afraid. (verse 16) Secondly, you can choose to rejoice in God even when everything in life goes wrong. Look at verses 17-18:

Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior. (Habakkuk 3:17-18)

These verses represent one of the strongest expressions of faith you will find in the whole Bible, as Habakkuk determines to rejoice in God even when everything else in life goes wrong. Habakkuk paints three scenarios here. Each scenario contains a matching couplet of images.

The first scenario is this: “Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines.” The blossoms on the fig tree and the grapes forming on the vine refer to those things you are trusting for in days to come. They are a symbol of your hopes for the future. It is just a blossom, just a flower, and yet it is a tangible sign that the figs and the grapes are coming. But in this scenario there are no signs for the future. The fig tree does not bud. There are no grapes on the vine. There is no visible sign that these things will ever come to be.

Do you have hopes and dreams for the future, but no visible signs that they will ever come to fruition? Do you ever feel like saying, “God, please just give me a little sign, some type of hope that things are going to change, something to hold on to?” Then you know how Habakkuk felt. And Habakkuk would tell you, when you have nothing to hold on to for the future, hold on to God, and that will be enough. Habakkuk says, trust God no matter what. “Though I have no visible sign of hope for the future, nothing tangible that I can see or touch or grasp, yet I will rejoice in the Lord. I will be joyful in God my Savior.”

The second scenario is this: “Though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food.” The olive crop and the fields refer to those things you are trusting in the present. They are a symbol of your present means. But in this scenario, what you are trusting lets you down. The olive crop fails. The fields produce no food. They disappoint you. In fact the word “fails” in the Hebrew is a word that means “to deceive, to disappoint or to fail.”

The idea is this. You have planted and cultivated the fields, you have worked the land, tended the crops and now it is finally time for harvest, and the crops fail. The fields produce no food. It was all a deception. All that hard work, all that effort, and it all comes to nothing. You get laid off after years of faithful service to the company. You lose your job and have no current source of income. You invest all your money in what looks like a killer portfolio and the market goes bust. You put years into a relationship with another person and now the relationship breaks apart.

What do you do when all that you are counting on in the present suddenly falls apart? What do you do when you suffer bitter disappointments in life? Habakkuk says, trust God no matter what. “Though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, yet I will rejoice in the Lord. I will be joyful in God my Savior.”

The third scenario is this: “Though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls.” The sheep and cattle refer to those things you are trusting from the past. They are a symbol of your reserves. But in this scenario you have no reserves to fall back on. There are no sheep in the pen. There are no cattle in the stalls. Or, to put it in today’s terms, there is no money in the bank. There is no more equity in the house. Your friends and family have helped you all they can. Your credit cards are maxed out. Your physical strength is tapped. Your reserves are all used up.

What do you do when you have nothing to fall back on? Habakkuk would tell you, fall back on God, and he will hold you up. “Though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior.”

It is easy to trust in God when the fig tree is budding and there are grapes on the vines, when the olive crop succeeds and the fields are producing food, when you have plenty of sheep and cattle in reserve. But are you really trusting in God at those times? Or are you trusting in the things that you have?

Think about Job. This was exactly the question Satan asked God about Job. “Does Job trust you because he trusts you, or because you have blessed the work of his hands?” Job showed his true colors when God removed the blessing, and Job continued to trust him no matter what. Habakkuk challenges us with the same question. Do you really trust God, or do you only trust him when you know his blessing on your life?

Here’s another way of phrasing the question. Which would make you feel more financially secure – having a million dollars in the bank or having a God who promises to meet your daily needs? Stop and think about that one for a moment. Be brutally honest with yourself. If the answer is the million dollars in the bank, then you are not trusting God. And you know what? That million dollars could be gone tomorrow anyways. But if the answer is having a God who promises to meet your daily needs, then no matter what your situation, you can feel more secure than the person who has the million dollars in the bank! That’s pretty good! That is trusting in God no matter what.

Habakkuk determined to rejoice in God despite visible circumstances, even if he did not see any visible signs of God’s presence or favor. F.F. Bruce writes: “It is right and proper to voice appreciation of God’s goodness when he bestows all that is necessary for life, health and prosperity. But when these things are lacking, to rejoice in God for his own sake is evidence of pure faith.”

Habakkuk says, “Though you have no visible hope for the future, and what you were trusting in the present has let you down, and you have no reserves from the past to fall back on – still rejoice in the Lord, still be joyful in God.” Why? Because he is God your Savior who will deliver you in his time and will not let the righteous fall. We find a similar instruction in the New Testament in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 which says, “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)

How do you exercise faith during the worst of times? Choose to rejoice in God even when everything in life goes wrong.

(Looking ahead: Tomorrow we will look at the third thing Habakkuk did to exercise faith in God in verse 19.)

Here are the links to the whole Blogging with Habakkuk series: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25.


  1. MJK says:

    You know, I have had the past couple years to do this and as hard as it has been, I’ve always failed….today, today was the day I decided to make that change from failure to success in trusting God. I’m in a situation right now where, although I’ve been here before, things are a little different and the only way I’m going to make the changes I want in the outcome and in myself that I have been trying to is that I am choosing to trust God. That’s what makes your version that much more valuable to me today. It’s my hearts desire to be just like this in my present situation because what I see can do so much damage…this time, no matter what I see, I’m choosing to trust God, not going to go back and forth or sink in despair because I couldn’t make it to the finish line…it’s the same situation, a little different, but this time, I’m staking my ‘life’ on trusting God! thank you for this explaination, it really helped me out ALOT!

  2. Ray Fowler says:

    Hi MJK,

    Thank you for sharing. I am sorry you are going through such a difficult time. I pray that God will strengthen and encourage you as you continue to put your trust in him. Feel free to check back in with an update as God works in your life in this situation.

  3. Brian Lee says:

    Pray that I can trust God like Habakkuk. I have a business that is constantly up and down. When it is falling behind–I always panic/fear that God will let me down/abandon me. Pray that I can trust Him in the midst of hardship. Also, that I can walk in faith–keeping my eyes on Jesus and not my hardships.


  4. Ray Fowler says:

    Thanks for sharing, Brian. I prayed for you this morning, both for your faith in hard times and for your business. God bless, Ray

  5. craig walkine says:

    Hi, your commentary on Habakkuk in this blog has been a real source of inspiration for me as I’m going through a major downturn in my business. My prayer is that I would learn to really trust God in this situation and for His peace and comfort to guide me an not fear. It is a bit scary as my family’s home is at stake. however, I am learning to yield all to God and completely trust Him as Habakkuk did. Thank you for providing this blog.


  6. Ray Fowler says:

    Hi Craig,

    Thank you for stopping by and commenting. I am glad the Habakkuk series has been helpful to you. I pray God will give you his peace and provide for your family’s needs during this difficult time.

  7. Kelly says:

    Thank you for this post. These verses in Habakkuk have sustained me through difficult circumstances…yet, your explanations have given new depth and meaning to this passage for me.

  8. Ray Fowler says:

    Kelly – I am glad you found the post helpful. I have also found these particular verses from Habakkuk to be a source of great comfort during difficult times.

  9. DamionKutaeff says:

    Hello everybody, my name is Damion, and I’m glad to join your conmunity,
    and wish to assit as far as possible.

  10. Janeen says:

    Wow, thanks for this revelation on this passage of scripture. I can’t even begin to tell you about the inner turmoil I’m going through at the moment. Our business is failing, despite all our best efforts, and it really seems like our backs are up against the wall this time round. We do our best to be people of integrity and have often put others before ourselves. The constant up and downs have been wearisome and have taken a toll. Your expounding on these verses have enlightened me, revived me and given me hope to carry on.
    Thank you

  11. Ray Fowler says:

    Janeen – Thank you for sharing. I pray God will bring you some relief soon. In the meantime, keep trusting Him to bring you through.

  12. Esi Collins says:

    This site was biblically informative.
    God bless you

  13. Ray Fowler says:

    Esi – Thank you, Esi.

  14. Marcus says:

    Dear Ray:

    I read your notes about Habakkuk and think GOD wants to bless me, but I have to go through the trail of fire first. I was layed off from on June 23, 2008, and I am having to deal with my mother who was hospitalized. I know two things Ray I feel alone as I do not have anyone to help me with my burdens, and I am confused. There is a part of me that wants to have the faith of Habakkuk and the other part of me wants to surrender to depression. I know I want to endure forward in faith, but I have stuff trying to hold me back.

    Thank you.

  15. Ray Fowler says:

    Marcus – I am sorry to hear about your situation. I know we often do not want to ask others for help, but if you are part of a church family, I would encourage you to let your pastor or others in the church know what is going on. A lot of times churches want to reach out and help, but we just don’t know the needs. If you don’t have a church family, I would encourage you to seek one out in your area. Don’t give up, and don’t surrender to depression. I pray God will bring you and your mother through this difficult time.

  16. Goodson Mitochi says:

    Pastor Ray Fowler I thank God for bringing that revelation to you about Trust God No Matter what from the Book of Habakkuk. Reading your series in view of what I am going through at the moment has thrown more light. Let me briefly explain my situation: I am financially in debt,creditors are calling me now and again asking when will I make the minimum payment and as much as I would want to promise them something I have nothing in the natural to fall back on. I am working and I am earning a salary. Since March this year every time my salary is electronically to my bank account, the bank takes a big portion due to the high interest rates as I have a bond with that bank and I don’t have anything left which I can use to pay a bit on my bills. I thank God for my wife who has become the bread winner in the house as she is the one who is buying groceries for the entire family up until now. I have two children that are pursuing degree at University and one of them my son did not seat for exams because I could not pay for his exam fees, tuition and the like.One raises a question where is God in the midst of all these? You have given the answer God is there inspite of my circumstances. I have taken my financial situation to God in prayer but it seems like God has given me His back. Thank God your article has inspired me that God will see me through in this situation. I am standing on Psalms 34:19 that Many are afflictions of the righteous but the Lord delivers him out of them all. Psalms 138:8 says that God is perfecting all things that concerns my life. As for the salary issue Psalms 128:2 assures me that I shall eat the labours of my hands, I shall be happy and it shall be well we me, glory be to God! Psalms 112:3 tells me that Wealth and riches shall be in my house. I believe that God is not a man that He should lie nor the Son of man that He should change his mind(Numbers 23:19;Hebrews 6:18;Titus 1:2), has He spoken that I shall eat the labours of my hands, shall He not do it? Isaiah 26:3 says Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.I will trust in the Lord no matter what. Psalms 119:165 says Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them.As for the creditors some of them have handed me over to lawyers to recover what I owe them, this too does not move me because God says in Psalms 118:6 that He is on my side I will not fear what man can do unto me.Really your article has really given me strength to face tomorrow no matter what. As a matter of fact I fumbled on your website looking for something to help me cope with my financial situation. As Ecclesiastes 3:1-6 says that to everthing there is a season I believe that this season will come to pass since the just shall live by faith not by sight. My situation from a natural point of view might look hopeless but on the other note God sees it differently and that is what I will do, to look at my situation with His eye glasses as without faith we cannot please Him. I believe God cares and He sees and He delivers. Remain blessed Pastor Ray Fowler. Goodson Mitochi

  17. Ray Fowler says:

    Goodson – Thank you for sharing, and I pray that you may continue to trust God during these difficult circumstances.

  18. Marcus says:

    Dear Pastor:

    Thank you for your encouragement at a time of great need. I have an opportunity to do something special, which if it falls into place, will allow me to teach overseas. However, I sense a struggle. I told you my mother is sick, and I have had thoughts about not going although part of me wants to go. My issue is twofold. One I need satisfying employment and if this GOD’s answer to my request; then, I would smart to take advantage of it. Especially if the opportunity for overseas work provides that answer.

    Yet, I worry about my mother because she has COPD and probably will not make a full recovery as she is now homebound. My issue is I need to live and seek GOD’s opportunities, but I want my mother to be at peace. My mother and my relationship has changed because we were extremely close before her illness made her homebound full-time.

    I want my mother to experience peace, and I want to live my own life because my mother gave her blessing for that. The bottom line is I want to do the best course of action. I need wisdom!

  19. Wanjiku says:

    Thank you for sharing this. I grew up in a Christian family and I am myself born again. My mother always emphasized trusting God (Prov 3: 5-6) . Today for the very first time in my life I began to doubt whether there really was a God. You see, these past few months have been a living nightmare…I’ve failed at everything I’ve worked at achieving. In contrast, I know many who openly acknowledge that they have no faith in God, yet they excel having invested half the time or effort. So I wondered to myself, has God simply turned his face from me or is he a figment of wishful thinking…
    This article, confirmed to me what my heart knows… this is a test of faith. Maybe sometime from now, I’ll see the purpose behind all this pain. Nevertheless, thank you.

  20. MJK says:

    I know EXACTLY how you feel….

  21. Ray Fowler says:

    Wanjiku and MJK – Thank you for commenting. I pray God will keep you strong in your faith and bring you through whatever trials you may be experiencing in his time.

  22. Meg says:

    I had a work injury accepted since 1990, for a permanant problem, now a biased doctor is trying to get my case closed, by going so far as not reporting my symptoms and being dishonest on my medical. I am trusting God no matter what, but must not have the perfect love needed, because I am still fearful of what will happen, but even if it has a bad outcome, God will turn it to good, correct?

  23. Ray Fowler says:

    Hi Meg,

    I am sorry to hear of your troubles. It is natural to fear potentially bad outcomes, but that is when we must continually bring our fears back to God.

    1 John 4:18 is the verse about fear and perfect love. It says this: “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” The verse is talking not so much about never facing bad outcomes in life, but realizing that for the believer in Christ, God is for us even in difficult situations. We do not need to fear his punishment, because perfect love drives out fear.

    As far as bad outcomes, although we hope and pray for the best according to our own wisdom, we must always remember that God is in control, and we can trust him to turn even bad outcomes to good for those who love him and are called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)

    Keep trusting God no matter what – and he will bring you through this.

  24. Jeanne M. says:

    Thank you so much for talking about Habakkuk. I was praying and out of desparation I had just liturally typed in a search, “trusting God no matter what” and it gave me a link to here. I’m just sick of looking for “signs” of assurance. I just want to “trust God no matter what” happens or doesn’t happen. In my prayer life, I don’t want to even ask for things anymore, I just want a relationship with my LORD.

    I’m a lady speaker and I know these things but even with my knowledge, it just didn’t click, forget the signs of hope and just trust. God really does work faster when you can do that because it gets “things” out of the way of your relationship with Him. I know these things but I wasn’t using them. I teach these things but, again, I wasn’t using them. Which is a lesson to me to practice what I preach so to speak.

    I’ve always been very healthy, then in April, because of an abscessed tooth I got really sick. The pain caused an adrenaline flow and I somehow got stuck in it and it caused a very high blood pressure. I mean screaming high, top and bottom numbers. It’s much better but things are happening to me physically that have stemmed from this one incident. Things like awful side effects from the meds. Or a sudden spike in the blood pressure and liturally in a few seconds it drops. Or a slow but pounding heart, which comes from the meds.

    It has given me such fear it’s almost intolerable at times. I have qouted 2nd Timothy 1:7 so many, many times and of course many other scriptures to keep my faith strong. I have worked very hard to alleviate it (fear), through the Word of God and prayer. The crazy thing is, I’m not afraid on a consious level most times or at least not at first. I know that sounds crazy but it just sort of sneeks up on me and my body reacts to it before I can get it under control. I have no life without God, I have to trust Him and I feel the attack of the enemy in this.

    I know what started the adrenaline thing really. My marriage of 32 years ended about 4 years ago. I was so devistated that I went for about two and a half of those years living with the feeling of impending doom that I couldn’t shake off. I just felt like that feeling would never end and I think maybe then that I was living in the adrenaline flow because I always felt like everything was so out of control in my life at that time.

    Trusting and talking with my LORD brought much healing to my life & broken heart, as did reading His word. I felt I was so close to closing that chapter of my life and moving on. My ministry was going good and I felt like the Lord was really using me and I still do. One of the medical folks told me I was going through a sort of PTSD and that maybe the thing with the tooth triggered this. Maybe so, but my heart bleeds to trust God for my way out of this. I have such a strong need to prove His word for my life and healing. I feel like I need to do this to help others trust Him.

    Your blog has brought some direction back to all this and agrees with what my heart has been telling me all along and what I’ve been telling God. That if nothing changes in my life, I will live with trust that “He can” heal me and mend my hurts. That I will take my last breath believing that, no matter what happens to me or wether I ever see healing in my body and life. “I KNOW HIS WORD IF REAL AND TRUE AND NO MATTER WHAT, I CHOOSE TO TRUST HIM.” That in its self brings rejoicing to my heart.

    Thank you so much for what you’ve written for I truly believe it has put me back on track.

    Your friend in Christ, Jeanne M.

  25. Ray Fowler says:

    Jeanne M. – Thank you for sharing your faith in the midst of difficult circumstances. I am glad you found this teaching from God’s word helpful to your situation. Blessings in Christ, Ray

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