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.
Sometimes suffering surprises the Christian because God’s purposes are weightier for us than we imagined. God purposes to wean us off everything else until we realize that God is all we ever wanted. It is then that the Christian, unlike others, is empowered to rejoice in the Lord.
Habakkuk, a godly prophet, moves from tested faith in God’s goodness to triumphant faith in God’s goodness in three chapters; from fretting to rejoicing and from wrestling to triumph. The amazing truth is this: it is possible to rejoice in the Lord on the heights, while facing the deepest levels of sorrow and affliction.
What is this rejoicing and when does it occur? Rejoicing in the Lord is a leap over our circumstances when there is no more money in the bank and one’s health is in decline. It is coming to the conclusion that no matter how difficult life is in a fallen world that God is good.
Alan Gardner, a missionary in 1851, was shipwrecked with others off the coast of South America. He was the last one still living. When his journal was found after his death, it quoted Psalm 34:10: “Young lions so lack and suffer hunger, but they that seek the Lord shall not lack any good thing.” Gardner wrote his last line: “I am overwhelmed with a sense of the goodness of God.”
All afflictions are designed to push the believer up to the heights above his circumstances, while still rejoicing in the Lord. Although some get bitter and angry, reintroducing God (whom they did not acknowledge before) into a philosophical debate over why He permits the righteous to suffer, the Christian abides in God’s steadfast love from the first signs of affliction to the end. You become like the object you worship. Jerry Bridges in his book Trusting God wrote: “We can be sure that the development of a beautiful, Christ-like character will not occur in our lives without adversity.”
How is this rejoicing obtained? It is realized by intentionality about one’s future. “Yet I will rejoice in the Lord,” the man of God says two times. Just as the apostle Paul wrote from prison, “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I say, rejoice!” Why? The best is yet to come.