Joy in the hard times

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,

YET

I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Saviour. The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to tread on the heights. Habakkuk 3:17-19

I want to encourage you today if you are going through hardship and difficulties to take comfort and hope from these verses.

Habakkuk speaks of a time when there was on the face of it nothing to be joyful about. There was no fruit, no food, no oil and it was a time of barrenness and famine. It was the worst of times.

This was the truth of the situation. Sometimes we also need to acknowledge the truth about our situations rather than pretend everything is ok.

There are two very important words in these verses which will help us. THOUGH and YET.

We don’t deny our circumstances (that is the though) but (the yet) we acknowledge that true joy is not in our circumstances but our joy is found in God and His salvation. We praise Him because of who He is and His great mercy and grace towards us. We trust in His goodness to us.

We choose to rejoice and praise regardless of how we feel and regardless of our circumstances. That is the tough choice. It is difficult to choose to praise when you are in the middle of really tough times. To choose to say -Despite what is happening in my life, despite how I feel – “I will rejoice” I choose to rejoice and praise you God.

The promise in these verses is that when we look up from our circumstances to our Father in Heaven, He strengthens us and causes us to rise up. We rise up above our circumstances and we have the strength to overcome our circumstances. We discover that true joy is found only in God.

The joy that these verses speak of is a really exuberant joy. The type of joy that you can’t contain. It makes you dance for joy, it is full of zest and life.

Everything may be wrong in Habakkuk’s world but he is dancing with joy. What a picture. It’s a work of God to enable this to happen in us because it makes no sense. It flies in the face of common sense to be dancing with joy in these circumstances.

A few more encouraging verses about joy:

“Your presence is fullness of joy” Psalm 16:11

“Weeping may endure for a night but joy comes in the morning” Psalm 30:5

“To console those who mourn in Zion, to give them the oil of joy for mourning” Isaiah 61:3.

This is the divine exchange. God takes our sadness and grief and gives us His joy instead.

Jesus points the way to joy in John 15:11. “These things I have spoken to you that My joy may remain in you and that your joy may be full”. That is the joy that I want to have. Jesus’ joy in me because I am abiding in Him. To experience Christ’s own joy within us.

Jesus endured the cross because of the joy set before Him. He looked ahead to the promise. “Who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame; and has sat down at the right hand of God”. Hebrews 12:2

If Joy is in material things…we will be disappointed eventually.

If Joy is in results..we will be disappointed eventually.

If Joy is in experiences…we will be disappointed eventually.

If our Joy is found in Christ Jesus the rock of our salvation we will never be disappointed.

Blessings to you today in Jesus x

Let us choose true joy which is found in Jesus

The heart of worship

I was reminded this week of how easy it can be to neglect our worship times with God especially in the current COVID circumstances. I can get distracted by doing life, work and the busyness of doing and then my times of personal worship to God suffer.

The Lord prompted me through a dream not to neglect the former things but to return to the heart of worship. There is a song about this by Matt Redman with beautiful lyrics which say:

“When the music fades
All is stripped away
And I simply come
Longing just to bring
Something that’s of worth
That will bless Your heart
I’ll bring You more than a song
For a song in itself
Is not what You have required
You search much deeper within
Through the way things appear
You’re looking into my heart

I’m coming back to the heart of worship
And it’s all about You,
It’s all about You, Jesus
I’m sorry, Lord, for the thing I’ve made it
When it’s all about You,
It’s all about You, Jesus

King of endless worth
No one could express
How much You deserve
Though I’m weak and poor
All I have is Yours
Every single breath
I’ll bring You more than a song
For a song in itself
Is not what You have required
You search much deeper within
Through the way things appear
You’re looking into my heart”

Those words really spoke to my heart and as I listened to the song, I realised again how gracious God is when He gently reminds me to check my heart and draws Me back to Him. The source of life and perfect peace.

A glimpse of heaven awaits us in our times of worship. We lift up our eyes to His throne and His glory. Heaven’s seat of might and power. As we worship we see the Lamb of God..His beauty, His power, His glory. Heaven’s darling. We saturate ourselves in His presence through our praise and worship. We get a heavenly perspective of things and clearer revelation to help us be steadfast in faith and overcome things. We ascend those hills of praise and answer His call to come up higher to Him. To ascend the hill of the Lord. Our faith rises up as we gain fresh understanding and revelation of our great God and Jesus. We encounter the refreshing power of His Holy Spirit as we meet with Him.

I encourage myself (and I hope you) to keep the music of heaven and worship alive in our hearts. We exchange the spirit of heaviness for the garment of praise and are filled with the joy of our salvation.

“As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God” Psalm 42:1