June 19, 2017
“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 3:18-19 (ESV)
If our pediatric dental clinic keeps a Top 10 list of challenging patients, I bet my daughter is near the top. She can’t stand lying flat on her back while a stranger cleans her teeth with noisy tools. It doesn’t matter if Frozen is playing on the ceiling or if we promise her all the bouncy balls in the world. My girl hates going to the dentist.
Prior to one of these semiannual visits, my daughter repeatedly asked me to pray for her. We prayed over and over again for God’s help and peace, right up until the moment the hygienist prepared her instruments.
Then the cleaning started. My daughter realized that despite all her prayers, the experience was just as terrible as she feared.
That’s when she started screaming, “God isn’t helping me! God isn’t helping meeeeee!”
My daughter has something in common with the author of today’s key verse. Before Habakkuk’s declaration of trust in chapter 3, he questioned the Lord’s plans. Evil rulers oppressed God’s people, and Habakkuk wondered why God hadn’t intervened to rescue them.
“O LORD, how long shall I cry for help, and you will not hear? Or cry to you ‘Violence!’ and you will not save?” (Habakkuk 1:2, ESV)
Do these questions sound familiar? Do you feel abandoned in your suffering, like my daughter and Habakkuk? Have you cried out for relief from your struggles with your work, relationships, parenting or sin?
Maybe you’re weary from waiting for the Lord to intervene. You see suffering in this world and in your life and say with Habakkuk, “How long will you keep ignoring my struggle, Lord?”
In response to these questions, God reminds Habakkuk of two important truths: The Lord still reigns on the throne, and He is at work in ways we can’t comprehend.
God tells him, “I am doing a work in your days that you would not believe if told” (Habakkuk 1:5b, ESV).
This truth calms Habakkuk’s questioning heart. He stops wrestling with his unchanged circumstances and starts resting in God’s unchanging character. He trusts his uncertain future to his reigning Heavenly Father.
Although Habakkuk realizes life won’t be easy, but harder, he comes to a beautiful declaration of trust: “Yet I will rejoice in the LORD; I will take joy in the God of my salvation” (Habakkuk 3:18).
Habakkuk rejoiced in his suffering because of the salvation promised by the Lord.
Good for Habakkuk, you might be thinking, but how can I rejoice in my struggles? I can’t seem to muster any joy in my circumstances.
We find our answer in Habakkuk 3:19: “ GOD, the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like the deer’s; he makes me tread on my high places.”
When we are weakened by suffering, God’s strength empowers us to rejoice. Romans 5:5b tells us we can rejoice in our suffering “because God’s love has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”
The Holy Spirit fills us with confidence in God’s love. This steadfast love is demonstrated to us by the sacrifice of His Son for our salvation. Our Spirit-given confidence overflows into faith through unending troubles.
The Lord reigns. He has not forgotten you. He is at work in your struggles. And by His strength, you can rejoice in the midst of changing circumstances.
Reigning Father, I praise you for your work in my life. Strengthen me by your Holy Spirit so I may rest in your salvation and rejoice in my suffering. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Romans 5:3-5, “Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” (ESV)
Psalm 18:31-33, “For who is God, but the LORD? And who is a rock, except our God? — the God who equipped me with strength and made my way blameless. He made my feet like the feet of a deer and set me secure on the heights.” (ESV)
Marissa Henley is one of our COMPEL Training members, and she’s a leader of a community group of writers within COMPEL. For more information about COMPEL, click here. We open registration at different times throughout the year, and when you sign up for our notification list, we’ll send you a free e-book: Winning the Battle of Discouragement: 31 Lessons From Writers.
REFLECT AND RESPOND:
What struggles do you face that seem unending? Ask God for the strength to rejoice in your salvation and trust that He is at work, even if your situation doesn’t improve.
© 2017 by Marissa Henley. All rights reserved.
Originally published Monday, 19 June 2017.