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.
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 3:17-19, NIV)
“… There’s a great difference between happiness and joy,” writes John Ogilvie.
“Happiness is dependent on having no problems or concerns; joy is having faith in God in spite of anything.
“Habakkuk had been through a profound experience with God. He dared to question honestly what God was doing with His people and why He was allowing the growing strength of the Chaldean enemy. Then the prophet was silent. The Lord gave him the benchmark truth that the just shall live by faith in Him alone. There would be trouble ahead as God judged the apostasy of His people with an enemy invasion, but Habakkuk would trust in Him.
“The prophet of faith heaps up all that will happen and in spite of it all, leaps for joy. Habakkuk shifts his faith from trust in circumstances to trust in God. It is then that he can say the Lord is his strength. His heart not only pirouettes in joy, but is also given strength in weakness, light-footed security like the deer, and elevated vision for the future.” (Lloyd John Ogilvie, Silent Strength for My Life)
Beside this passage in my Bible, I’ve written, “A joyous commitment of faith” and “a song of confident joy.”
Look back on your life. Write a story about a time trouble loomed in a messy situation while God took care of ugliness and ungodliness—a time when, like Habakkuk, you faced it, knowing you could trust God.
How did God teach you the difference between happiness and joy?
Explain how God taught you His “benchmark truth that the just shall live by faith in Him alone.”
Paraphrase Habakkuk 3:17-19 for your own story. Like Habakkuk, heap up all that could have happened. List all the reasons you—or any human—could have despaired, phrase by phrase: “Though the _____ does not ___ and there are no _______, though the _______ fails and the _____ produce no _______, though there are no ________ and no _______.…"
Then write your own song of confident joy. Declare, “And yet, I chose to rejoice in the Lord and be joyful in God my Savior. The Sovereign Lord was my strength; he made my feet like the feet of a deer, he enabled me to go on the heights” (Habakkuk 3:17-19, NIV).
Write about trusting not in your circumstances but in God.
Write about discovering, in the words of Ogilvie, the strength God gave in the midst of your weakness, a light-footed security, and an elevated vision for the future.
Write your story. You probably can’t imagine how it will help others.
“When I read a story that changed the author’s life,” she writes, “by the time I close the covers, I’ve experienced some changes myself. I learn and grow right along with that author.”
Yes! That’s it! That’s why we write our stories!