“Even though the fig trees have no blossoms, and there are no grapes on the vines; even though the olive crop fails, and the fields lie empty and barren; even though the flocks die in the fields, and the cattle barns are empty, yet I will rejoice in the Lord! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation! (Habakkuk 3:17-18 NLT)
There have been seasons in my life when things seemed barren. One of the hardest weeks of my life was shortly after my divorce. I was in a new commission only job and my check for two weeks was just under $20. I missed some meals and got lots of eviction notices in that season, but I wouldn’t trade them for anything.
While we’re generally reluctant to ask for difficult times, they’re very often God’s tools to shape us for His future service. Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 1:4: “He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.”
Some of the most rewarding moments in my life have been when I was able to secretly slip someone some money and say with genuine empathy: “I know what you’re feeling. I’ve been there.” Those are some of those “Ah hah!” moments when the Lord whispers: “Now aren’t you glad I let you go through that rough patch?”
I’m not going to lie, it’s not easy to rejoice in difficult times, but something the Lord is teaching me is that while I’m not required to love the difficult circumstance, I do need to always love Him. He is the reason for my rejoicing, not necessarily my immediate circumstance.
James writes I 1:2: “Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy.” I’ve learned to look for God’s fingerprints on my circumstances. What does that mean? There were times when I had no money and God would send someone to take me to lunch or shake my hand and give me $10 or $20. In times of great loneliness someone would become the arms of Jesus as they held me and let me cry.
God is good all the time! Whatever you’re having to deal with in this season of your life – don’t waste it! There’s always someone who is worse off than you. If you can still read these words, you’re blessed! If you have family, you’re blessed! If you have a job, you’re blessed! If you can speak, taste, touch, and smell, you’re blessed! The list is virtually endless of things for which we can give thanks regardless of our circumstances.
One suggestion. Rather than sit around bemoaning the fact you have problems, and please hear me, I know some who read these words have serious issues with which they must wrestle. But if only for a moment, focus on someone the Lord will bring to your mind, who could really use a call or note from you. Be the source of joy for someone else and I guarantee you the Lord will bless you for your kindness and thoughtfulness. You might be surprised at how encouraging the person you reach out to can be for you.
A loud thunderstorm was raging one night, and a mother rushed upstairs to check on her young son, as she suspected he would be frightened. But as she opened his door, he was sitting on the windowsill shouting with each boom of thunder: “Bang it again God! Bang it again!
Regardless of how bad things get, you’re never alone. NEVER!
Blessings, Ed 😊
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Amen brother Ed!
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