Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls:
Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation.
The Lord God is my strength, and he will make my feet like hinds' feet, and he will make me to walk upon mine high places.
Let joy go first!
It is normal to feel and appear sad and depressed in difficult circumstances. It is ordinary to complain, murmur or clamour when the situation is tough and rough and you are at your wits' end. But it is extraordinary to respond with joy in the midst adverse situations and circumstances.
Our passage today, Habakkuk 3:17 simply covers every aspect of human endeavour. You see crop failure and death of farm animals would and could devastate anyone. Business failure, failure of examination, loss of property, relationship breakdown etc could get someone down and depressed. But Habakkuk affirmed that even in the times of starvation and loss, he would still rejoice in the Lord. 'Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation'. Notice that Habakkuk's feelings were not controlled by the events around him but by faith in God's ability to give him strength. 'The Lord God is my strength, and he will make my feet like hinds' feet, and he will make me to walk upon mine high places'. Habakkuk had complete and total confidence in God, hence 'I will joy in the God of my salvation'.
This simply means that our environment or external experience should not determine what happens on our inside. Psalms 4:7 buttresses this 'You have put gladness in my heart, more than in the season that their grain and wine increased'. This is incredible! Our joy and gladness is independent of increase of grain and wine so to say.
As Christians we ought to respond to adversity with joy. James 1:2 says 'My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations'. In other words, let joy go first. It takes an understanding of who we are and what we have in Christ to live in this way, where everyday is a happy day. Psalms 118:24 says 'This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it'. It is indeed possible to spend the days of our lives happy. Psalms 89:15 affirms 'Blessed is the people that know the joyful sound: they shall walk, O Lord, in the light of thy countenance'. Oh the joyful sound! Imagine what our lives would be when we see every day as the Lord's day....Joyful!
Paul responded to adversity with joy. Acts 27:1-44 gives the account of Paul's voyage to Rome. The voyage started out well just like every other journey in life but suddenly there arose a great storm. Acts 27:14-15 'But not long after there arose against it a tempestuous wind, called Euroclydon. And when the ship was caught, and could not bear up into the wind, we let her drive'. The storm became so severe that they lost their goods and properties, lost direction and even lost all hope of living. Acts 27:20
'And when neither sun nor stars in many days appeared, and no small tempest lay on us, all hope that we should be saved was then taken away'. They were in the middle of the sea for 14 days in darkness, not able to eat or drink for fear and danger of their lives.
But in the midst this adversity, notice what Paul said in Acts 27:21-25 'But after long abstinence Paul stood forth in the midst of them, and said, Sirs, ye should have hearkened unto me, and not have loosed from Crete, and to have gained this harm and loss. And now I exhort you to be of good cheer: for there shall be no loss of any man's life among you, but of the ship. For there stood by me this night the angel of God, whose I am, and whom I serve, Saying, Fear not, Paul; thou must be brought before Caesar: and, lo, God hath given thee all them that sail with thee. Wherefore, sirs, be of good cheer: for I believe God, that it shall be even as it was told me'.
Right in the midst of harm and loss, Paul says be of good cheer. But someone might say, what is it to be cheerful or joyful about in the midst of loss and harm?
It is imperative to highlight Paul's statement and reason 'to be of good cheer', because it is a key understanding which anyone who is in the midst of the storms of life must have.
i. I belong to God (knowing who we are can be very powerful in the midst of storms and uncertainties)
ii. I serve God ( I am at His serve )
iii. I believe God ( I believe God's word )
You see, just like Habakkuk, Paul had faith in God' strength. Paul said 'I believe God that it shall be...'. How wonderful?
When nothing makes sense, and when troubles seem more than you can bear, remember that God gives strength. Take your eyes off your difficulties and look to God. You too can respond to life and adversity with joy. Let joy go first!
Have a wonderful week and God bless you.