Yet I Will Exult in the Lord

In an excellent message on “Christ and No More,” Pastor Bryce Beale discusses the hope believers should have in Christ. Beale explains that a trial essentially is the “death of a dream” designed to test how much hope I have in Christ. My dreams are not necessarily sinful, but they can become sinful if I want what I want so much that my joy comes from my dreams rather than from Christ. God is “too kind to let any of his people continue on in a delusional joy, one rooted not in Christ but in something else” (Beale). My joy (or lack of it) upon the removal of these temporal dreams shows me where I am turning for my hope. After studying Beale’s message this morning, I found myself reflecting on the following words of Habakkuk:

Though the fig tree should not blossom
And there be no fruit on the vines,
Though the yield of the olive should fail
And the fields produce no food,
Though the flock should be cut off from the fold
And there be no cattle in the stalls,
Yet I will exult in the Lord,
I will rejoice in the God of my salvation.
The Lord God is my strength,
And He has made my feet like hinds’ feet, 
And makes me walk on my high places.
(Habakkuk 3:17-19)

Habakkuk was struggling with the message he received from God declaring that He would soon use the Chaldeans to judge Judah for its violence and wickedness. While Habakkuk recognized the sin that was rampant in his land, he feared the impact of this wrath. However, instead of wallowing in his fear, Habakkuk reflected on what he knew to be true about God. He recalled all that God had done in the past and the promises He had made for the future. With his reflection on what he knew to be true, Habakkuk was able to rejoice in the Lord even though his circumstances did not change. He knew God would be his strength, giving him sure footing on the race that was set before him.

I imagine that Habakkuk may have considered the possibility that he would die as part of the Chaldeans’ invasion. However, his exultation in the Lord gave him hope, and this hope cannot die. In the course of my physical challenges, I have reflected on life and death and am comforted by the knowledge that the one dream that can never die is the fact that I will someday be with Him. In addition to the sure footing I currently have in Christ, this promise for the future gives me joy.

In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls. 
1 Peter 1:6-9

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