“The Lord God is my strength, and he will make my feet like hinds’ feet, and he will make me to walk upon mine high places. To the chief singer on my stringed instruments.” – Habakkuk 3:19
O such a beloved verse this is, often quoted, always loved. God is my strength, He will give me the feet of a deer, sure, swift, agile, and full of life. He will put my feet on high places. He will call forth praise and worship…. It’s a beautiful and encouraging verse no doubt, however it’s not a promise of pointless blessing, when read in context with it’s surrounding verses it becomes all the more powerful and clear as to why God becomes all these things to us and releases the true meaning of “Joy“.
“Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls: Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation. The Lord God is my strength, and he will make my feet like hinds’ feet, and he will make me to walk upon mine high places. To the chief singer on my stringed instruments.” – Habakkuk 3:17-19
Now we can see the big picture. There was a great trouble coming upon the land, woes and worries were all around Habakkuk, yet he was able to stand in the mists of it all with joy, rejoicing in The Lord. You see, too often we confuse “joy” with “being happy“, they are not at all the same. Happiness is fleeting, it’s a temporary emotion or state of being. Sometimes things will make us happy and we will be happy, and sometimes things will make us sad and we will be sad, but through it all we can have joy, for joy is not so fleeting. It’s not an emotion but rather, is a fruit of the spirit (or character trait) that comes by way of trusting God, which is faith.
In this passage we see a very dire situation, war, extreme lack, famine, and hard times, “yet will he rejoice“! He still has joy even when the situation is not conducive to happiness! Because he has faith, he trust in God. Therefore when the devil tries to tell him that famine, and lack will steal his strength he is able to say, “The Lord is my strength” and keeps his joy. When the devil tells him that he will be destroyed by the enemy that is rising up against him he is able to say, “The Lord will give me feet, swift and sure as a deer, and help me climb above my enemies and be safe upon the rock of my salvation“, and keeps his joy. When the enemy tells him that all is lost and he should tremble in fear and despair, he is able to say, “I will sing a song of praise!“, and keeps his joy. Joy stays with us, even in the midst of troubles. Joy comes by way of trusting God’s words and promises more then we fear the enemies lies and threats. This is why at Christ’s birth the angels could say, “joy to the world, for this day a child is born,” knowing full well the trouble that this event was actually going to bring.
Mary, Joseph and little Jesus were hunted for many years, they lived a difficult life of hiding on the move, all ending with the torment of the crucifixion. Yet through it all, the happy and the sad, there was still joy for those who had faith and trusted in God, His Words, and His promises, and it all came full circle at His resurrection. When you trust God to turn your sorrow into happiness no matter how impossible it may seem, you find joy.
“Great is my boldness of speech toward you, great is my glorying of you: I am filled with comfort, I am exceeding joyful in all our tribulation.” – 2 Corinthians 7:4
You see, being a joyful person is not being happy all the time, avoiding all sorrow, or having everything go the way we want all the time, it’s having the faith that brings peace, trust, and praise even when it’s not. It’s knowing that God will work all things (the good and the bad) out for your good if you trust, serve, and obey Him. Know that Jesus brought us salvation by faith, when we put our trust (or faith) in God and His Words He pours His grace on us, empowering us, which then brings us hope, and that hope in turn gives us joy, even in hardship, trial, and adversity. Therefore, God (and God alone) is responsible for bringing true Joy to the world.
“And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” – Luke 2:8-14
“Then he said unto them, Go your way, eat the fat, and drink the sweet, and send portions unto them for whom nothing is prepared: for this day is holy unto our Lord: neither be ye sorry; for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” – Nehemiah 8:10
“The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in him, and I am helped: therefore my heart greatly rejoiceth; and with my song will I praise him.” – Psalms 28:7
So we sing, “Joy to the world The Lord has come, let earth receive her King.”