The Choice to Rejoice; November 17, 2022

Habakkuk 3:18-19 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 go on the heights.

This is perhaps the greatest statement of faith in the Old Testament, and it is right up there with the statement by the Centurion whom Jesus praised for his faith. (Matthew 8:8-10) This is indeed the choice to rejoice. Logically, most people would say that a person with this kind of faith had flipped out, that they had lost all connection with reality. Actually, Habakkuk had a grasp of a far deeper, greater reality than the physical circumstances around him. Such a grasp is available to us as well, if we will accept it. Jesus famously referenced it to His disciples just before His arrest, trial, and crucifixion. “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33) This is indeed a “superhuman” response to circumstances, but Paul scolded the believers in Corinth for acting like “mere men.” (1 Corinthians 3:3-4) We aren’t limited to just “being natural.” This isn’t at all to say that we are to be hypocrites, putting up a front. The Japanese have in a sense institutionalized hypocrisy, speaking of tatemae and honne, your “public face” and your true feelings. As I told an online group just recently, that is a symptom of spiritual disease in Japanese society. Rather than hypocrisy, this is raw faith. This is letting go of circumstances, of what we can see and feel, and clinging to the God who created us, who is far greater than the whole physical universe put together, because He spoke it into being. When you have that kind of faith you can indeed make it safely through anything, just like a deer in the mountains, to use Habakkuk’s image.

This certainly applies to me, and I’m getting training in it even as I write. My wife being hospitalized during the church Thanksgiving celebrations is emotionally very difficult to deal with. For that matter, her having been in the hospital now for seven weeks has been and continues to be difficult to deal with. The choice to rejoice is a major challenge! However, the Lord really anointed and spoke through me yesterday in the interdenominational prayer meeting, saying that we need to recognize the abundance of the blessings that have been poured out on us and be grateful. We won’t make the choice to rejoice without gratitude. I have been blessed with a superlative wife for 53 and a half years, and current circumstances don’t change that. The challenge is especially acute for Cathy, because she’s the one in the hospital with the physical issues that keep her from participating in what she loves. Even so, such faith is something God wants us to have, and He’s offering it to us right now.

Father, this is easier to write than it is to do, by far. Thank You that our daughters arrive tonight, and that we’ll be going to the hospital tomorrow. Thank You for the continued improvement in Cathy’s condition. Thank You that You will guide the girls as they cook all the things Cathy would like to be cooking, and that You will guide in the church Christmas decorations, which I always dread supervising. This year I will be “the authority,” and I don’t enjoy that. Help me, help us, indeed rest, relax, and rejoice in You, whatever is going on around us, for the blessing of everyone around us and for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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