17 Though the fig tree may not blossom,
Nor fruit be on the vines;
Though the labor of the olive may fail,
And the fields yield no food;
Though the flock may be cut off from the fold,
And there be no herd in the stalls—
18 Yet I will rejoice in the LORD,
I will joy in the God of my salvation.
19 The LORD God is my strength;
He will make my feet like deer’s feet,
And He will make me walk on my high hills.
So, ends Habakkuk’s brief prophecy.
It was gratitude that prompted an old man to visit a pier on the coast of Florida every Friday until his death in 1973. Every Friday, Captain Eddie Rickenbacker would bring a bucket of shrimp to the beach and feed the sea gulls. Out of thanksgiving, he carried out this Friday routine, because Captain Rickenbacker credited a sea gull with saving his life. Many years before, in 1942, Rickenbacker was on a mission to deliver a message to General Douglas MacArthur in New Guinea. Something went wrong and his plane went down in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Rickenbacker and his crew survived on emergency rafts, but soon they would run short of food. Each day the crew would hold a devotional service. On about the eighth day, they held their devotional service and dozed off for a nap.
In Eddie’s own words:
“[Captain] Cherry read the service that afternoon, and we finished with a prayer for deliverance and a hymn of praise. There was some talk, but it tapered off in the oppressive heat. With my hat pulled down over my eyes to keep out some of the glare, I dozed off. Something landed on my head. I knew that it was a sea gull…No one said a word, but peering out from under my hat brim without moving my head, I could see the expression on their faces. They were staring at that gull. The gull meant food…if I could catch it.”
Eddie caught the gull. The crew ate the flesh, and the intestines were used as fish bait. Seven of the eight men survived having been out to sea for 22 days.
Don’t you just love stories like that? But, all stories don’t end that way. The sea gull does not always land, does it? That’s why I think Habakkuk’s story is such a powerful one. Habakkuk’s story is a story that at least for the moment has not ended. But please notice the end of the book. Habakkuk is able to say, “Yet I will rejoice in the Lord.”
What causes this kind of Thanksgiving? One Word: Faith!
This kind of faith believes at least three things about God.
God is always at work!
God will speak at the right time!
God will always sustain me!
Why could Habakkuk rejoice? He knew his God. He knew that his God would always sustain him. The Lord would give him strength—that’s provision, but He would also cause him not to slip—that’s protection. What else could we ask for?
So, What is our response?
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!