Everyone who’s still breathing experiences difficulties. Sometimes they come one after the other, trials or tribulations. Punch. Punch. Body punch. Health issues, family relationship stress, personal problems, financial duress, loss of employment, passing of a loved one, the examples are endless.
How do we survive? Better yet, how can we thrive in the midst of periodic, overwhelming onslaughts of the “vagaries and vicissitudes of life”?
The Old Testament prophet Habakkuk provides an answer:
“Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fail 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 tread on the heights” (3:17-19).
I remember a time early in our marriage when we experienced a run of problems that placed us in difficult financial straits. It caused me a great deal of stress until one day the thought occurred to me: “It’s just money. What if we lost everything we have? They’re just things.” With those ideas in mind I prayed “Lord, I give it all to you, everything we own, including our current financial pressure. If for some reason in your will it all disappears, it’s OK.”
Of course the Lord did not need my permission to work his will. My submission was more important for me than him. I will never forget that day.
Since that time, when under duress I’ve prayed that prayer a few other times, i.e., “Lord, it’s OK. I give it all to you for whatever you want to happen.” When sincerely offered this prayer results in incredible spiritual rest and emotional release. The problem didn’t go away. The pressure is still there. But how I process it is entirely different. If there are “no cattle in the stalls, yet will I rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.”
I don’t write this in a flippant or self-righteous way. I know certain problems are bigger than others—a loved ones life-threatening illness or death, for example. But I believe “the Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to tread on the heights.”
I used to believe because this verse represents the theology of my faith. I was supposed to believe it. Now I believe because I’ve experienced the Lord’s strong arm for myself. It’s a continuing lesson, but the Lord is always there—when the fig tree buds and when it does not.
© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2011
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