Day Nineteen: Unshakable Joy in Undesirable Conditions
Fasting Date: Friday, February 23, 2018
“Though the fig trees 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.” (Habakkuk 3:17-18 ESV)
The prophet Habakkuk wrote when God’s people of the past were facing some bleak times; times marked by loss, lack, and adversity. These are words that we don’t like to have associated with our lives. Our preference is to live in a land of plenty and to spend our days in prosperity. It is human nature to crave comfort and to desire ease. And when difficulties do come and hard times hit, our tendency can be to complain about our circumstances and to grumble about our lot in life. Times of deprivation, if we are not careful, can lead us down a road of despair where we doubt God’s goodness and lose sight of God’s grace. Difficult times can easily rob us of the joy we so desperately desire. Yet, in the verses above, the prophet reminds us that it is possible to have unshakable joy even in the midst of undesirable circumstances, provided that joy is rooted and grounded in the unchanging character of a sovereign, saving God.
All of us will face “famine” of one sort or another in our lives; when we do, will we let our praise wither and our self-pity grow? Fasting is a spiritual discipline that can help prepare us for the battles that inevitably lie ahead. As we voluntarily deprive ourselves of something that we desire and willingly subject ourselves to a measure of lack, we remind ourselves that true joy is not found in a trial-free life, but rather in knowing and having relationship with the living God. When our stomachs grumble, it is a chance to lift our eyes in gratefulness that although our circumstances may at times be difficult, our deepest desires are only satisfied by the grace and the goodness of our infinite God.
Reflection: Would you say that your joy is tied more to your circumstances or to your relationship with God?