Bonus Reading: How to Live with Joy

November 21, 2022

I heard, and I trembled within; my lips quivered at the sound. Rottenness entered my bones; I trembled where I stood. Now I must quietly wait for the day of distress to come against the people invading us.

Though the fig tree does not bud and there is no fruit on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though the flocks disappear from the pen and there are no herds in the stalls, yet I will celebrate in the LORD; I will rejoice in the God of my salvation! The LORD my Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like those of a deer and enables me to walk on mountain heights! For the choir director: on stringed instruments.

Habakkuk 3:16-19

Written by Lauren O'Neill from the Station Hill Campus

Where Does Your Help Come From?

When the world is shattering around us, where we do run for cover? What do we grasp for in our pain when our hearts are broken within us? When God’s justice plays out differently than we thought it would, how do we respond? In times of adversity, we need to learn how to exhibit ruthless trust rather than despair. Even when we suffer, by God’s grace we can live with joy.

A Point to Suffering

Suffering is a fire that burns away the dross of our lives, exposing our soul. The vision Habakkuk experienced that showed him the disaster to befall God’s people left him shattered. He had begged for a revival, but God had a different plan for His people (see Habakkuk 1:5-11). Habakkuk acknowledged the righteous justice of God while still grieving its impact and begging for mercy (see Habakkuk 3:1-15). His physical body responded with trembling in response to the news of impending destruction. His skeletal system seemed insufficient to hold him upright. He was broken.

But notice the contrast between verses 16 and 19. After the trembling, there was quiet. A quiet deep in his soul where he stood resolved and fully submitted to the righteous justice of the sovereign God. Brokenness led to peace. He will quietly wait for the vision to come about. He will abide harsh reality and all the death and the destruction it will bring all the while praising Yahweh. With trust in God, he found he could live with joy even in times of horror and hardship.

Entering the Quiet

So often, the quiet waiting in the presence of the Lord is what comes between the trembling and the triumph. Scripture tells us that when we are in the throes of suffering, our soul communes with its Maker in a unique way. Romans 8:26 tells us the Holy Spirit intercedes for us in our groaning when grief has taken all our words away. In those times, we learn to trust God in a new way. It is here in brokenness that we learn He is our peace.

A ruthless trust in a sovereign God is the only safe response when our soul is surrounded by suffering, disaster, and death. By resting in Yahweh, we cling to life. Just like Habakkuk, we can acknowledge the tragedy of our reality while still clinging to Christ and the joy of His presence and promise.

What Now?

Habakkuk understood the gravity of impending suffering, and he clung to God in response. Take a moment to pray and consider honestly: are you doing the same? In times of suffering or stress, where have you been running for safety or relief? Only a ruthless trust in God will bring the peace our soul craves as we quietly wait for His righteous will to be done.

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