Some people are incorrigibly cheerful. Troubles roll off their backs, and nothing darkens their dawn or casts shadows on their noonday. But for the rest of us, joy and cheerfulness do not come so easily. So what should we do?
Habakkuk had been given insights into God’s purposes, which showed quite clearly that he and his compatriots were in deep trouble. God had determined to hand his people over to the Babylonians—that bitter and relentless nation that had devised methods of cruelty never seen before. The judgment of God on the people of God was in the plan of God to be carried out through the enemies of God! Habakkuk’s courage understandably faltered when he considered these things (3:16), and the questions mounted in his mind.
Habakkuk had prayed, “I have heard all about you, Lord, and I am filled with awe by the amazing things you have done. In this time of our deep need, begin again to help us, as you did in years gone by. Show us your power to save us. And in your anger, remember your mercy” (3:2). Habakkuk’s fears were not immediately assuaged, and his vision of what was going to happen did not change. But his confidence in a righteous God dealing in justice and mercy remained strong, prompting him to say, despite all the hardships and calamities he knew would come his way, “Yet I will rejoice in the Lord! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation” (3:18).
There are many days when we cannot possibly rejoice in our circumstances. Ask Habakkuk! But on those days we can remember to “rejoice in the Lord.” There’s a big difference between rejoicing in the Lord and rejoicing in our circumstances! If circumstances dominate our thinking, we will exhaust our energy with efforts at changing our circumstances, and we will find ourselves joyless and despairing. But if we perceive God, who transcends our circumstances and works through our circumstances, to be in control in the midst of our circumstances, then he will fill our mind. The trust and assurance that result become the womb of our renewed joy. But it doesn’t just happen automatically. Like Habakkuk, we have to make a choice and say, “I will rejoice in the Lord! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation.” Being joyful is a choice.
For Further Study: Habakkuk 3:1-19