Sometimes it seems like life can get so complicated. There are SO MANY decisions that need to be made. And most of them are crying out to be the most important one.
It reminds me of a comic strip I saw once that featured Dilbert, the character created by Scott Adams to illustrate workplace absurdities. I’m working from memory here, but as I recall the first frame shows Dilbert is pressing the voicemail button on his office phone. In the next frame, Dilbert is told, “You have 947 messages …” The final frame continues with, ” … All of them marked ‘URGENT.'”
Sometimes I feel overwhelmed, as I’m sure you do. There are days when I WISH I ONLY HAD 947 urgent things to do!!! Okay, that’s an exaggeration, of course; but I’ll bet you can relate.
It’s at those times we need today’s verse:
I WILL REJOICE IN THE LORD
The verse pictured in our image today comes from the Old Testament book named after the prophet Habakkuk. While this is far from the only verse in the scriptures where were are enjoined to make the choice to rejoice, it is significant that it comes from Habakkuk. The reason is that the situation he was facing was not too different from the one the world finds itself in today.
He was an honest and godly man living in the midst of a corrupt and sinful world. He didn’t understand much of what he saw, and that bothered him. He watched as his beloved nation became more and more unrighteous, corruption eating away at the foundations of his society like a cancer. To make matters worse, it was evident that God was bringing a nation that was even WORSE against Judah; and it was pretty clear that Babylon was going to be the winner in that confrontation.
So Habakkuk asks God many of the same questions that good people are asking Him today. He essentially asks God what He’s doing. It seems that God is standing idly by while bad men advance by evil and good men are overrun, and he asks God why. He lays out his questions, then says, “I will station myself on the ramparts; I will look to see what He will say to me, and what answer I am to give to this complaint.” Evidently people were challenging Habakkuk and looking to him for answers, since he was a man of God. He didn’t have them, so he essentially told God, “I’m standing here, I’m waiting. Kind of need an answer, God.”
God’s response isn’t one of anger, He understands when we ask Him “hard questions” and He gives us the answers that we need. (Just not always in the timeframe that WE would like to have them.) God begins His reply by assuring His prophet that He truly is in control. He tells Habakkuk that He is bringing things to a very specific end; and that Habakkuk can write down what God is about to tell him because it is certain.
In the first part of God’s answer is a key nugget of truth. Even though they are surrounded by furious evil, people who think they are piling up stolen riches to their own benefit; the truth is that they are actually multiplying their judgements against themselves. Then comes the nugget. God tells Habakkuk “the righteous will live by faith.”
In other words, in the midst of 947 urgent messages, the most IMPORTANT one is the message to KEEP STANDING IN FAITH.
When you don’t yet see what your God has promised — keep standing in faith.
When it seems like the world is going to hell in a handbasket — keep standing in faith.
When you can’t make sense of the evil in the world — keep standing in faith.
Faith is taking hold of what God has given to you. If He promised it, it will surely come. Faith calls us to stand upon what we cannot yet see and trust in the One who has given us His word.
We have choices to make, and they are difficult ones. What are we to do when we do not understand?
Habakkuk made his choice plain. He said …
I WILL REJOICE IN THE LORD
I WILL — that is a decision. It is making a choice to rejoice. It is a choice to stand in faith and focus upon who God is.
And he doesn’t make that choice because his circumstances have changed. He makes the choice to rejoice because he has been reminded that the day is coming when the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord
as the waters cover the sea. It is going to happen, God says so. And His word is His bond, He watches over it to perform it in precisely the time He has determined.
And we who, like Habakkuk, are waiting and wondering why – we can STILL stand in faith. We, too, can make the choice to rejoice. Habakkuk made that choice BEFORE he saw anything change. He made that choice because God reminded him of His promises.
Habakkuk’s reply to God was one of determination. He made his choice to rejoice in spite of any and every circumstance that he faced.
He said …
Though the fig tree does not blossom
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
Habakkuk explained the reason he could determine to be joyful in God his Savior with the proclamation that followed in the next verse. “The Sovereign Lord is my strength!”
God gives us the strength to do what He commands us to do. He enables our obedience; supports our decision to stay close to Him even when the world is pursuing illicit gains and immoral power grabs. He rewards our faithfulness. And because He does, we can say what prophets and people of God have said through the ages …
I WILL REJOICE IN THE LORD