I always have the option of where to cast my vision. I can focus on the things that are going wrong all around me. Or I can envision God and his goodness. The prophet wrote:
“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. The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to go on the heights.” (Habakkuk 3:17-19)
The prophet’s outlook was the consequence of his faith.
Bad circumstances will occur. Jesus said, “He causes the sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” (Matthew 5:45) Sometimes the rain isn’t falling. People living during the days of the prophet Elijah could testify to how difficult farming was without rain. It was challenging for everyone to survive. Both the faithful and the unfaithful were impacted by the drought in Israel. (I Kings 17) Many years later, at the time Habakkuk was writing, Judah had being conquered by the Babylonians. Godly people like Daniel were carried off into exile. Daniel and his friends flourished under trying circumstances. They did well because they kept their eyes on the Lord. They demonstrated great faith.
Habakkuk is telling us to rejoice for God is Sovereign. To rejoice is not to live in denial. Rejoicing is recognizing that God is still God and that he has a plan. Genesis chapters 41-47 indicate that God was at work in Egypt even though seven years of abundance were followed by seven years of famine. God’s plan included Joseph’s rise to leadership where he would administer grain not only for Egyptians but people from the many places in the ancient world which were impacted by the famine, including Canaan. God enables me to go on the heights by transforming me. My spiritual feet are changed so that I can ascend to places which were unlikely destinations before. The Lord, in His sovereignty, can alter my capacity for life so that I can go beyond my circumstances. By His strength I can do more than I might otherwise believe.
The Lord is my source of strength. Through faith I receive God’s strength in the midst of hardship. “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?” (Romans 8:35) Through him we are conquerors. “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:37-39) I will not lose my source of strength because nothing can separate me from God. My power supply will never be unplugged.
The scriptures are telling us that we are not to be defined by our negative circumstances. We will be defined by how we respond to them. We are to rejoice in the Lord who is unchanging. How can we be joyful? We are to keep moving forward in faith. Rather than be distracted we must, “…fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:2) I can place my faith in God as I keep my eyes on Jesus.
Pastor Ken Atchison
All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. www.zondervan.com.