Habakkuk 3:17-19 ESV
Though the fig tree should not blossom,
nor fruit be on the vines,
the produce of the olive fail
and the fields yield no food,
the flock be cut off from the fold
and there be no herd in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the Lord;
I will take joy in the God of my salvation.
God, the Lord, is my strength;
he makes my feet like the deer’s;
he makes me tread on my high places.
To the choirmaster: with stringed instruments.
Suffering has a Purpose
In this life we are going to have troubles and hardships. Some of these will be the result of the curse of sin on this earth, while others may be the consequences of wrong choices we have made in our lives. And, yet others will be God’s divine disciple and correction in our lives as part of the purification process he is accomplishing in our lives to make us like him.
For, the scriptures teach us that those whom God loves he disciplines (reproves, chastises). “But he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness.” And, although divine discipline and correction is painful, if we respond appropriately to it, “later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it” (See Heb. 12:1-13 ESV).
And, we read this is John 15:1-2: “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit.”
And, this pruning has to do with removing (purging) undesirable elements from our lives. And, to prune means “to cut off or cut back parts of for better shape or more fruitful growth; to cut away what is unwanted or superfluous” (M-W dictionary). And, this is usually done via divine discipline. God uses trials and tribulations in our lives, in other words, to make us holy.
For, our sufferings produce endurance and steadfastness in us, which build character and maturity in Christ. Our trials, too, test the genuineness of our faith, though tested by fire “may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” And, too, we go through difficulties so that we can comfort others with the comfort we received from the Lord during our own trials. And these sufferings, too, are to teach us to rely not on ourselves but on God. So, they are for our good, though painful they may be at the time (Rom. 5:3-5; Jas. 1:2-4; 1 Pet. 1:6-7; 2 Co. 1:3-11).
I Will Rejoice
It is easy to rejoice when things are going well for us in this life, when we have all of our basic needs met and more. But, it is harder when life throws its curveballs at us, i.e. when those things which are unexpected and are disruptive to our lives in one way or another come into play. Then, our human tendency is not to rejoice, but that is when we need to the most.
When Satan attacks us, and his hordes come against us, and when friends betray and desert us, and family members turn against us, and sickness and disease befall us, and natural disasters overtake us, and the money runs out, and the car breaks down, and the bills pile high, we need to rejoice. And, we need to call on God, and pray for his divine intervention.
And, we need to take joy in the God of our salvation. And, we need to not complain and become bitter in spirit because life didn’t go as we had hoped or as we had expected. Yet, I am not saying we should not grieve, or that we can’t be sad, but that we should turn to our Lord during these times, and pray, and call on him in our suffering, and be thankful.
I believe, too, that we need to have the right perspective. For, as humans, sometimes we can get an entitlement mindset, and then when things go awry, which they will, we get upset. And, that is because we have this wrong idea about life and what we deserve. Especially in America, and perhaps in other countries, too, where we have so much, and can take so much for granted, if we are not guarded in our hearts, we can get caught up in griping and complaining over even the slightest inconveniences.
So, we need to fix our eyes on Jesus and not on our circumstances, and when I say “we” I mean me, too. Yes, I love my Lord, and I am following him with my life, but that does not make me perfect, nor does it make me not susceptible to having human responses to my circumstances. Daily I have to give my life situations over to him and allow him to work in those circumstances for his purposes and for his glory. And, I have to guard my heart against worry and discouragement, and I have to be joyful.
So, again, it all comes down to perspective. When we have the correct perspective about life and what is or is not owed us, or concerning our purpose for being on this earth; and if it is a heavenly perspective and not an earthly one, then we can rejoice in our Lord even when life doesn’t turn out as we had hoped it would sometimes. And, that is when we must surrender all to Jesus and trust him that he truly knows what is best.
The Lord is My Strength
It is the Lord who gives us the strength to endure unjust suffering. He is the one who strengthens us in battle against the enemy of our souls so that we do not lose heart. He gives us strength when our human strength runs out. He empowers us from on high to stay the course and to finish the race he has set before us. So, when we feel like we just can’t go another step, he will sustain us and uphold us, and he will empower us to keep on going.
He can put a spring in our feet (in our steps) when we grow weak and tired. And, we will be able to dance when we feel like we cannot even walk. And, that is because it is him who is strengthening us, and it is him who is filling us with his joy and with the desire to move forward. And, this is not necessarily speaking physically here, but metaphorically and spiritually.
For, physically I don’t dance. I have two left feet, so to speak. I am not coordinated. But, spiritually I dance, for the scriptures teach that beautiful are the feet of those who bring the good news. And, so the dancing that I do is keeping in step with my Lord and it is moving my feet to his timing in taking the gospel wherever he has me go with it. And, so I do dance.
And, he gives us feet to tread down the enemy of our souls and to walk righteously before our Lord, too, again speaking metaphorically and spiritually. For, we are only able to walk according to his Spirit because we are empowered of the Spirit of God to walk in his ways. Yes, we do have to cooperate and yield to his Lordship, and we do have to take those steps of faith, and walk in obedience to Him, but he is the one who empowers us with his strength, with his wisdom, and with his love to accomplish his purposes.
So, yes, life is going to throw its curveballs at us, at times, but God allows these for his purposes, to make us holy and to conform us to his likeness. So, we need to keep the right perspective, and we need to respond to our trials with the grace of God, and in step with him, with him leading us in the ways that he would have us to go. And, when we do this, we will be at peace, and we will experience the joy of the Lord. And, we will be able to rejoice in him even when life kicks us hard. Amen!
It’s All You
Lyrics by Tosin Iyawo Ogaga & Sue Love
Music by Sue Love @ Original Works
Vocals by Tosin Iyawo Ogaga*
All Glory to God!
May 31, 2019
You are the reason I want to dance.
You are the reason I want to sing.
You are the reason, expressing myself,
I serve You in all the ways You lead me.
You are the reason my heart gives You praise.
You are the reason that I am alive.
I bring out Your best moves
Just so I do embrace You;
Sing out loud as You lead just to please You.
Let myself follow You. I don’t care who watches me.
All I want to do is to make You smile.
Let every fiber of me bring You praise.
Your love has lifted my feet to dance.
Your faithfulness leaves me singing for joy.
You, Jesus, are the reason, it’s all You.
Your grace gives me life.
*full lyrics used by permission of the lyricists
Saturday, June 8, 2019
*Tosin’s blog: https://aletheasmind.wordpress.com/