Advent: Share Joy

Chances are you haven’t spent a lot of time digging into Habakkuk lately. Bonus points if you can find it without using the contents, an app, or blind luck.

By the way, if you are currently doing the One Year Bible (and you are actually caught up to date), you will be reading Habakkuk tomorrow (December 18). Consider this your spoiler alert.

Habakkuk is a minor prophet, which has nothing to do with his importance, but only the length of his book. It was short, but not all that sweet.

Habakkuk’s book is basically a conversation he had with God about the state of the world. Habakkuk would pray, but his prayers mostly sound like complaints. He doesn’t understand what God is doing, why God is silent, why justice is losing. He is tired of waiting for God to fix all the problems.

He also records God’s answers, even though they weren’t exactly the answers he was looking for. God doesn’t promise to take away all his problems. In fact, he says that some of them are going to get a lot worse before they get better.

He does, however, assure Habakkuk that He is in control. He reminds Habakkuk that His purposes will be accomplished.

At the end of the conversation, we see how Habakkuk responds. These are some good, strong, and challenging words.

Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation.” –Habakkuk 3:17-18

Wow! Can’t you imagine Habakkuk writing this very same thing in the middle of 2020? He might tweak the details:

Though the virus continues to spread, and there is no toilet paper on the shelves. Though the unemployment rate continues to rise, and we are quarantined and cut off from our family and friends. Though murder hornets threaten, and travel plans have been ruined…

No matter what the circumstance. No matter how bad it gets.

Habakkuk proclaims that he will rejoice in the Lord.

Joy is such a huge part of the Christmas season and the Christmas story. The angels brought good news of great joy! Joy to the whole world.

The greatness of this joy is that it is not bound to our circumstances. God gives us joy in spite of our circumstances. God gives us joy that is deep, deep down in our heart. It is the confidence that God is for us. The assurance that our future is secured. The knowledge that because of Jesus we are saved.

Here are some reminders/challenges related to joy this season and beyond.

Joy is a choice. We are commanded to rejoice in the bible, but doing so requires a choice. We must choose to believe that God is in control no matter how things have turned out this year. We must choose to trust that God is leading us, guiding, us, growing us, conforming us, transforming us, and absolutely never ever leaving us on our own. We must choose to embrace an eternal view of our lives and the world. This place is not our home. This trouble here is light and momentary when compared the greatness of eternity with our Savior and King. We must choose to be thankful in all circumstances. You may need to let Thanksgiving bleed into Christmas as you take time to count your blessings. You might need to name them one by one.

Joy is a fruit. While we choose to rejoice, God produces joy in our heart through His Spirit. We are both responsible to choose joy and completely dependent upon God to produce it in us. Remember the gospel. Study God’s word. Worship God with His people. And ask Him to create joy in your heart.

The baby in the manger reminds us of all this. He came to a desperate and dark world with unbelievable joy. A joy both surprising and overwhelming.

Don’t miss the bottom line. This joy is not just for you. It’s not to be kept deep, deep down in your heart. Joy needs to be shared. Joy needs to be shown. Joy needs to be proclaimed.

Joy to the world! The Lord has come!

Let’s share it.

Lance Shumake