MAKE THE CHOICE TO REJOICE
Choosing a favorite verse or passage in the Old Testament is truly difficult, but if I had to choose, I would choose the passage Habakkuk 3:17-19. This passage includes Habakkuk’s reply to all that God has shown him throughout the book of Habakkuk. This book really resonates with us today amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. If you have time during the continuation of this quarantine, I encourage you to sit down with a nice cup of coffee or tea and meditate on this small but yet powerful book in the Old Testament. Will you dive into the text with me?
“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 lie empty and barren; though the flocks die in the fields, and the cattle barns are empty, yet I will rejoice in the Lord! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation! The Sovereign Lord is my strength! He makes me as surefooted as a deer, able to tread upon the heights” (Habakkuk 3:17-19 NLT).
When meditating on any piece of scripture, I have always found it helpful to focus on one or two words that are specifically important to the verse or the passage. Usually there is no right or wrong answer; some may view or value some words over others. But in my opinion, one of the words that wraps up the whole book, including this passage, is the word “rejoice”. Another word that I find to be specifically important is the word “yet”. Both words are found in verse 18. “Yet I will rejoice in the Lord: I will take joy in the God of my salvation” (Habakkuk 3:18 ESV).
When I am reading this passage, I find myself taking a breath after the word “yet.” I think this is because I naturally want there to be a pause, that way the remainder of the passage has the emphasis. The word “yet” is the turning point in this passage. Examining the passage before the word “yet,” Habakkuk is talking about terrible things happening to his hometown. After the word “yet,” Habakkuk is stating that his faith in God provides him the hope that, regardless of any situation, he will stand steadfast in faith and rejoice in the Lord. It’s as if the word “yet” is Habakkuk’s choice to “rejoice” regardless of the lack of security, protection, food, and other provisions. He is prepared to live by faith, even in the suffering.
I don’t know about you, but especially today in the state of Illinois and our country, as decisions are being made that we may not agree with, we have to examine and check our reaction. It’s easy to vent our complaints and our thoughts on social media, or even in phone calls with family. It’s easy to get mad, frustrated, or even in some cases, disrespectful. However, as Christians we have a decision to make. We can either choose to rejoice in Christ regardless of the situation or fall in line with everyone else and add to the growing emotional outrage of the political field.
Facing uncertainty is never easy; I am not trying to simplify our pain and suffering at all. Habakkuk was seriously dealing with uncertainty in his time, just as we are today. I know all of us have struggled to one extent or another. Some have lost jobs, some are struggling financially, some do not have enough food, and some have lost loved ones. However, we have to remember the world is watching us, and how we react during these times ultimately reflects our walk with Christ. Will we take a stand and choose to rejoice, or will we just take a stand?
The Apostle Paul reminds us while he was spending time in prison to “Rejoice in the Lord always: and again, I say, Rejoice” (Philippians 4:4 NIV). So, I challenge you today to rejoice, in the HOPE we have in Christ knowing that we will one day be in Heaven with Him. Rejoice in the PEACE we have in Christ, because he has already overcome this world and its problems. Rejoice in the SALVATION that Christ has freely extended to us, allowing us the strength and gifts to be used in such a time as this.