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—Dr. Sam Smith is the organizer of Butterfly Ministries and can be reached at ssmithkate@aol.com.

“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 Savior.” Habakkuk 3:17-18

It is easy to praise God in the good times, isn’t it? When our health is good, our bank account balances, the kids and the spouse are behaving (the fig tree buds and the vines have grapes), we sing praise and shout to the Lord.

But when thing are not running smoothly, it is a different story. As much as we would love to say that we rejoice in the bad times, let’s be honest — we usually don’t. We seldom hear anyone say, “Thank you, Lord, that my air conditioner went out. Thank you for that car wreck last week. I praise you, Lord, that I lost my job, my house and my car. I am so grateful, Father, that I broke my leg.”

How many praise songs have lyrics that proclaim, “I love you, Lord, that my wife ran off. Or, I praise you, Lord, that I lost my job.” Although those circumstances make for good country songs, they really don’t make us feel like praising and rejoicing. You get the point. It is not our nature to rejoice in the Lord when things go wrong.

Habakkuk proclaimed just the opposite. He said he would rejoice and be joyful, even in the hard times. Why could Habakkuk rejoice in the worst of times? If we read verse 19 in the third chapter, we find the answer, “The Sovereign Lord is my strength, He makes my feet like the feet of a deer, He enables me to go on the heights.” Habakkuk had developed a strong, unwavering faith in his God. He knew that God “would never leave nor forsake him.”

How did he develop such a faith? He had seen what God could, and would, do for those who love Him. He had learned what James would teach, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.” James 1:2-3

We have the same opportunities to grow our faith as Habakkuk and James had. Who among us has not suffered and endured tragedy and pain, and who among us have not seen the faithfulness of God? With each deliverance and “help in our greatest time of need,” our faith should grow. If we allow our hardships to turn us away from God, then we are falling into the enemy’s traps. If you are angry or feel disappointed that God allowed tragedy in your life, then you do not understand His sovereignty or His power. If you love God — if you follow Jesus Christ — there is nothing that God will not use for your good and His glory. Until you understand and own that truth, you will live at the mercy of a fallen world.

Jesus said that we will have trouble in this world, but we should take heart (be brave, rejoice) for He has overcome the world. John 16:33

We can develop the faith to rejoice and praise God, even in the worst of times. It is not easy, but it is an attainable goal, and one worthy of pursuing. It is the level of strength that will enable us to walk through this life without fear, knowing that our God is always with us. He loves us that much.

“And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow — not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below — indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39

“…those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” Isaiah 40:29-31

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— Dr. Sam Smith is the organizer of Butterfly Ministries and can be reached at ssmithkate@aol.com.

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