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 tread on the heights. (Hab 3:17-19) (NIV)
19The Lord GOD is my strength, and He has made my feet like hinds’ feet, and makes me walk on my high places. (NASB)
Life is not easy. Everyday there are so many situations we encounter that are unplanned. Sometimes they are joyful surprises, like beautiful sunsets—those days we can’t understand why God is so good to us! Other days we feel like we were hit by a Mack Truck–those days we know the weight of what is happening is going to take us down. No matter what comes our way, we have the Word of God to get us through it. There are Psalms of praise to capture our joy and there are verses like Habakkuk 3:19 to remind us God is with us and giving us the strength to walk every step.
When I became a Christ follower, I thought all my bad days were behind me. Somehow, I got the impression that my life would be trouble-free. I have no idea where I ever got that idea but it could not be farther from the truth. God will take us through some really difficult things in order to mold us into the image of Christ. But He has not asked us to endure anything His own Son did not experience while here on earth.
63 The men who were guarding Jesus began mocking and beating him. 64 They blindfolded him and demanded, “Prophesy! Who hit you?” 65 And they said many other insulting things to him. (Luke 22:63-65)
The thing I’ve learned in life through all the pain, through all the hardships, and through all the pruning is that no matter what comes at me I can endure it as long as I have Jesus. As Moses said in the wilderness to God, “Do not send us from this place if you do not go with us.” God is sovereign; God is good. That is not easy for my little human brain to wrap around at times. There is so much evil in the world. It seems almost every day we hear about car bombings, mass shootings of innocent people, people killing other people for no apparent reason.
11 Dear friend, do not imitate what is evil but what is good. Anyone who does what is good is from God. Anyone who does what is evil has not seen God. (1 John 3:11)
How do you rejoice in the Lord when your world falls apart—when the most unimaginable horrific thing happens? We never know when evil is going to knock at our front door. I have watched friends walk through trials that were more than what I think I could survive but I learned a lesson by watching them. The first thing they did was cry out to God to be their strength. The second thing they did was refuse to believe any lie the devil told them about God’s goodness. The third thing they did was make a choice not to let the situation label them. Their trial did not become their identity for they had found that in Christ. “The Sovereign LORD is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to tread on the heights.” Watching people live the truth is how I know it is possible to rejoice in the Lord in every situation.
Lord, there is nothing in this world that has value over you or your presence in my life. I have no idea how people live without you each day. No matter what comes our way, you always have a plan. And it is good. I can only endure because of Christ in me–He alone is my strength. As Christmas is upon us, may the understanding of what Christ did for the sake of humanity be obvious to those who have not yet believed. In Jesus name I pray, Amen