17 Though the fig tree doesn’t bloom,
and there’s no produce on the vine;
though the olive crop withers,
and the fields don’t provide food;
though the sheep are cut off from the pen,
and there are no cattle in the stalls;
18 I will rejoice in the Lord.
I will rejoice in the God of my deliverance.
To praise God when things are good…that’s relatively easy to do (though if we are honest, we are often tempted to forget).
To praise God when things are difficult…that’s an entirely different story.
This Sunday, we are returning to our worship space after nearly 15 months. It’s a time of joy and celebration, a time to give thanks for God’s deliverance as we move to the other side of the pandemic (at least in the U.S.) It feels good to give God our thanks and praise, now that the end is in view.
But let’s be honest here: during these past 15 months, how easy was it for you to praise God? Did it get any easier when the vaccine became available, and you started to think about being with friends and family again? Remember how, during that time, everyone was talking about “seeing a light at the end of the tunnel”?
The prophet Habakkuk spoke of praising God in the midst of difficulty, even when there is no fruit on the trees, no grain in the fields, no livestock in the barn. It’s a challenge to us. How do you praise God when you’re starving? How do you praise God in difficulty when there’s no evidence of your deliverance on the horizon – no light to be seen?
Habakkuk hit upon the secret: he understood that God is to be praised all the time, because it is in God’s nature to bless us all the time. God is ALWAYS the God of our deliverance, whether it’s visible to us yet or not. Once you understand God’s true nature – that our Creator’s intention is always to bless the people, and not to curse them – then you begin to unlock the secret of praising God at all times.
No matter what difficulty you face today, trust that God is the One to deliver you from it!
By Joe Monahan
For Pondering & Prayer
What situation(s) in your life are making it difficult to praise God right now? Can you trust, even if it’s just for today, that God is preparing to deliver you from it – thought you might not be able to see it in this moment?
Prayer: God of Deliverance, we trust that you see us in our difficulty. We trust that you care enough for us to stretch out your hands over our lives and touch us with your grace and power. Open our eyes to your possibilities today, and grant us faith to trust in your nature even where we have not seen you. Amen.