Paul encourages us in Ephesians 5:20 to: “… (give) thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ”. No matter who we are, or how much or how little we have, we are called to give thanks to God. And the heart of Ephesians 5:20 lies in the two “all’s”: “always for all things”. Giving thanks seems easy when things are going well; but that’s not the only time we are to praise God. The prophet Habakkuk wrote this in chapter 3:17-18 of his prophecy:
17 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,
18 yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
I will be joyful in God my Savior.
We don’t know much about Habakkuk. We do know that he prophesied in a time when things in Israel were changing. A period of relative peace and spiritual revival was fading and an uncertain, somewhat ominous future loomed ahead.
The situation, as he described it, was really quite desperate.
There was not much hope for the future. The lack of buds on the fig tree and the lack of grapes on the vine indicated there was nothing promising to look forward to – he had no anticipation of anything good to come.
Immediate conditions were also quite dismal for Habakkuk. The olive crop had failed and there was no food in the fields. Daily life was getting increasingly hard, with no indication it was going to improve soon.
And reserves were gone. When Habakkuk mentions “there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls” it indicates even past wealth and investments were no more – the livestock has all been sold, the savings have all been used up.
Honestly, I think that as we have faced lockdowns around the world in recent months, we can all relate to this! But I want you to notice Habakkuk’s determination in verse 18. In the face of all the upheaval, the loss, the dread…he was going to choose to do something. “Yet, I will rejoice in the Lord. I will be joyful in God my Savior.”
He made a deliberate choice, a conscious act of the will to rejoice in his relationship with his God and Savior in spite of what was falling apart around him. He was going to trust God in the midst of circumstances he neither anticipated nor understood completely.
We have that same choice today.
And it’s not only a global pandemic that can cause us to feel the same things Habakkuk did. I know when my husband died I felt as if all my dreams for the future died with him. There were so many things we’d wanted to do together “one day” but suddenly I realized that day wasn’t going to come, not for us anyway. It was not easy but I learned to say that: “God is good even in this …” and I really do mean it. I can thank God that He still has a hope and a future for me even if there don’t appear to be any buds on the fig tree or grapes on the vine for me right now. He is still at work and He’s not finished with me yet and I thank God for that!
And that is true for you as well. No matter your individual circumstances, no matter what is causing you distress, God is still your Lord and your Savior. He cares for you. He will give you everything you need to live in these times we all are facing. We just need to remember Habakkuk’s “Yet….” and follow his example of rejoicing in the Lord with all our hearts…always…and in all things.
May God bless you!