Thankful and Joyful
Habakkuk 3:17 & 18 NLT
17 Even though the fig trees have no blossoms, and there are no grapes on the vines; even though the olive crop fails, and the fields empty and barren; even though the flocks die in the fields, and the cattle barns are empty,
18 yet I will rejoice in the Lord! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation.
This Scripture passage from the Book of Habakkuk is a magnificent description of a heart that holds on to joy by faith. The prophet Habakkuk looks around him and knows he is in a season of deep trouble and impending disaster. Nothing he sees and is anticipating to see, gives him any cause for hope and joy. But in spite of all the negative circumstances surrounding him, Habakkuk says, “I will rejoice in the Lord. I will be joyful in my God.” Amidst the undesirable outcomes that are enveloping him, Habakkuk makes a decision not to succumb to bitterness, fear and hopelessness but chooses to hold on to God as his Source of joy.
All the situations that Habakkuk describes in Habakkuk 3:17 are enough to make even the strongest of men despair and grow weak. The fig trees have no blossoms and there are no grapes on the vines. In our context today, it may mean that all the toil and labor we have invested in our family or career or ministry are not showing signs of progress and not bearing fruits. The flocks die in the fields and the cattle barns are empty. This may speak of the bleak and challenging times the economy is facing, resulting in us living in uncertain and tumultuous days. During these seasons, it is hard to see around us even a flicker of hope or a trickle of joy. It is so easy to subject ourselves to despondency, anguish and sorrow.
But the Word of God tells us in Proverbs 15:15, “For the happy heart, life is a continuous feast.” The psalmist writes in Psalm 16:11 that in the presence of God there is fullness of joy and at His right hand pleasures forevermore. Jesus tells us in John 10:10 that His purpose is to give us a rich and satisfying life.
God wants us to experience joy as His children and disciples – not a fickle happiness that depends on circumstances or changes with the wind direction, but a joy that remains in spite of what may be taking place around us.
Anyone can be relatively happy when things are going well. But when you face adversity or sickness or hardship and still rejoice, you show that something supernatural has taken place in your life. This is a unique trait and privilege of believers of Christ – that we can rejoice when things go wrong.
How do we do it? We find the key in Habakkuk 3:18. We have to constantly choose and decide to do what Habakkuk commits to do – “yet I will rejoice in the Lord! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation.” Habakkuk does not say to rejoice in the circumstances. Rather, he says to rejoice in the Lord. In other words, rejoice in the Lord because He is still on the throne. Be joyful in God because there is always salvation in the Name of Jesus.
Habakkuk is able to rejoice and be joyful because he has Someone Whom he is thankful and grateful for – the God of his salvation. My friends, to be joyful is to be thankful and grateful that Jesus is our Savior. When things do not make sense, when your prayer still seems unanswered, when everything is going the way you do not want it to go, rejoice and give thanks that you have Jesus as your Savior and Lord.
Anybody can thank God for good things. But when you thank God even when the fig trees have no blossoms and there are no grapes on the vines, your faith grows stronger and your roots in Christ grow deeper. And you become resounding and powerful testimonies that glorify the Name of Jesus Christ in your world.
When you are going through tough times, look not at what has been lost. Look at Who you have, and be grateful for Him!
Colossians 2:7 GW
Sink your roots in Him and build on Him. Be strengthened by the faith that you were taught, and overflow with thanksgiving.
Let us pray.
“Dear Heavenly Father, I thank You for Your everlasting love and unending grace. I give You thanks that I have Jesus as my Savior and that whenever I call upon His Name, there is salvation. Indeed Father, even everything else fails and fades, I shall plant myself even deeper in You and choose to rejoice in You, the God of my salvation. Holy Spirit, help me and lead me each day to dwell not on what is happening around me but to remember and be thankful for Who I have in Christ Jesus. In the highs and lows of my life, I shall rejoice in the risen King, the God of my salvation. In Jesus’ Name, I pray. Amen.”