“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.”Habakkuk 3:17-19
Oh, to be able to say such words with an unwavering faith.
However, I will be the first to admit that there are seasons when it’s exceptionally hard to rejoice. Sometimes difficulty seems to be around every corner. Sometimes we’re praying for our child’s health, or for their wandering heart, yet see no change. Sometimes we’re praying for God to restore our marriage, but each day seems more impossible. And there are seasons when we pour ourselves into work or ministry, longing to see the fruit of our efforts, yet they always seem to fall flat.
And so we’re left with the question – “What, then, am I to rejoice in? And how am I to rejoice when nothing around me seems worth rejoicing?”
This is the beauty of Habakkuk’s words amidst a situation it which he, too, had no earthly reason to rejoice. And thankfully, he doesn’t tell us that we’re to rejoice in the things around us that are painful, as if we’re supposed to detach our emotions from reality and convince ourselves that pain in and of itself is a blessing. We aren’t expected to be happy about our struggles, painful waiting, or heartbreaking circumstances. In fact, Jesus himself shows us this by the fact that he wept at the sight of another’s grief, he sweat blood as a physical response to pure agony, and he pleaded with his Father to remove the painful cup from him if he willed it to be so.
Instead, Habakkuk reminds us that the true source of our rejoicing lies in something far beyond and far greater than what we see in front of us – it’s rejoicing in the fact that we can trust our good and sovereign Father, even when we can’t trust in a desired outcome. And often, it’s found in experiencing the sweet comfort of Christ, the tangible reminders that he sees us in ways no one else can, and an unexpected strength at the least expected times.
Because of that, even in the waiting and even in the struggle, we can say, “Father, I don’t know the ending of this story and right now it’s exceptionally painful and confusing. I want to trust and I want to rest in you, but my heart is anxious, fearful, and weary. But you are Lord. You are the sovereign God who parted the red sea, rose Lazarus from the grave, moved the hearts and minds of wicked kings to serve your purposes, and gave your own life for me. Help me put my hope and trust in you more than what I can see and feel right now. Give me a heart of faith that says, ‘I will rejoice in the Lord, rest in his strength, and wait with anticipation for how he will provide.‘”
Like me, you may be struggling to see evidence of God’s tangible care and presence in your circumstances at the moment. So let this truth wash over you –
Your hope and security are not based on your temporal circumstances, but in the Lord himself. Although he may not be coming to our rescue in the way we desire right now; although his promises don’t seem to line up with what we’re experiencing at the moment, we have to fight for truth to speak louder. And when even that feels like a losing battle, we cling to the truth that Jesus won’t let us go, even when we feel we’re losing our grip on him. As he’s told his people from the beginning of time,
“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”Deuteronomy 31:6
Friend, if you are in this place along with me, may this be our prayer today. “Even though I cannot see the fruit I desire, the outcomes I’ve prayed for, or any evidence of my circumstances improving, help me to have strength and grace for today, trust in your goodness and sovereign purposes, and a fixed hope on who you are and what you have promised me.”
Lord I believe, but help my unbelief.
Home is around the corner,
You can now order Sarah’s new book – Tears and Tossings: Hope in the Waves of Life, releasing May 2nd.
To read more on the hope we have in suffering, you can purchase “Hope When It Hurts – 30 Biblical Reflections to Help You Grasp God’s Purpose in Your Suffering” authored by Sarah Walton and Kristen Wetherell here or here. Jeff and Sarah Walton’s marriage book, Together Through the Storms – Biblical Encouragements for Your Marriage When Life Hurts.