Rejoicing in the Face of Adversity

Habakkuk 3:17-18 (NASB)
"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."

Why should we rejoice in the Lord when evil times fall upon us? Why should we give praise to God when disasters strike us? In this world darkened by sin, bad things happen even to good people. No one is exempt from the effects of sin in this world. But we can still give praise to God because hard times test, and hopefully enhance, our faith and discipline. It is no wonder that James in the New Testament declares that such things produce endurance, or perseverance (James 1:2-4).

It is not difficult to rejoice and have faith in God when all is well. Even non-Christians usually find it easy to be thankful when good happens to them. It is also very easy for the Christian to praise God when things are going well. But Scripture calls us to be Christians with an "even though" attitude towards rejoicing in God, in placing our faith in Him. As Christians, if we are to have a more complete faith, must learn to have joy "even though" adversity strikes to the ground. This does not mean that we should not feel sorrow at the loss of a loved one, a reversal of financial stability, or illness. But it does mean that when these things face us, we must not let the darkness of them crowd out the light of the God of our salvation. We should maintain our joy in spite of life's difficulties, because they refine our characters. They help us to keep our minds focused on things above, rather than only on things on earth (Colossians 3:2-3). They help us to reflect a little closer the glory of Christ, and help us to place our hope in Him rather than in ourselves or the fickle affairs of life.

Perhaps one of the best examples in the Bible on the issue of suffering and being refined by it can be found in the book of Job.

"But He knows the way I take; When He has tried me, I shall come forth as gold." (Job 23:10)

If we can, with the Lord's help, learn to have joy in the face of suffering; to have faith in God even though times get rough, our characters will be strengthened and refined like gold in the fiercest fire. We can experience the peace of God that is beyond human understanding, and continue to have a hope based on Him rather than on earthly circumstances.

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