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Joy in Hard Places

Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior. Habakkuk 3:18

Whenever she was unable to take my phone call, my friend’s voicemail recording invited me to leave her a message. The recording cheerfully concluded, “Make it a great day!” As I reflected on her words, I realized that it’s not within our power to make every day “great”—some circumstances truly are devastating. But a closer look might reveal something redeeming and beautiful in my day, whether things are going well or poorly.

Habakkuk wasn’t experiencing easy circumstances. As a prophet, God had shown him coming days when none of the crops or livestock—on which God’s people depended—would be fruitful (3:17). It would take more than mere optimism to endure the coming hardships. As a people group, Israel would be in extreme poverty. Habakkuk experienced heart-pounding, lip-quivering, leg-trembling fear (v. 16).

Yet despite that, Habakkuk said he would “rejoice in the Lord” and “be joyful” (v. 18). He proclaimed His hope in the God who provides the strength to walk in difficult places (v. 19).

Sometimes we go through seasons of deep pain and hardship. But no matter what we’ve lost, or wanted but never had, we can, like Habakkuk, rejoice in our relationship with a loving God. Even when it feels like we have nothing else, He will never fail or abandon us (Hebrews 13:5). He, the One who “provide[s] for those who grieve,” is our ultimate reason for joy (Isaiah 61:3).

What about your relationship with Jesus brings you the greatest joy? How has He met you recently in a time of hardship or grief?

Lord, no matter my circumstances, help me to find joy in You.


In the book of Habakkuk, the prophet Habakkuk wrestles with God’s justice in disciplining Israel through the actions of a nation even more corrupt than they (1:12–13). Habakkuk’s struggle illustrates a theme seen throughout Scripture of honestly wrestling with God. Anguish, doubt, and even anger at God aren’t seen as problems to be suppressed. Rather, truly walking with God means being willing to place all of our humanity, our whole heart, honestly before Him.

Habakkuk’s transformation—from the anguished “how long” of 1:2–4 to the confidence, joy, and awe of 3:16–19—illustrates the biblical principle that honest wrestling with God is rewarded by deeper transformation. Like Job, through honestly bringing his pain and anger before God, Habakkuk was transformed, not so much by easily understandable explanations, but by encountering face-to-face the overwhelming goodness, power, and beauty of God (vv. 3–15).

Monica Brands

By |2019-03-11T12:13:44-04:00March 18th, 2019|
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