In Habakkuk chapter 3, we find a prayer that is 19 verses in length. For 16 verses, Habakkuk remembers God’s past faithfulness to deliver Israel from her enemies. In the final three verses, he rejoices over God’s strength and majesty.
Habakkuk’s prayer is instructive for us today because it establishes a rhythm of remembering and rejoicing. When we remember God’s past faithfulness and rejoice in it, we find a firm foundation regardless of our circumstances, but when we forget this rhythm, the weight of the world feels crushing.
Here are three ways that you can remember and rejoice when your circumstances look bleak:
1. Remember and rejoice that God saved you.
It is imperative that you understand that you did not save you. God saved you. You may say, “That’s not true. I heard a message, walked down the aisle, shook the pastor’s hand and said a little prayer. That’s when I became a Christian.” No, it’s not. Do you know what motivated you to get out of that seat? Do you know what motivated you to come down that aisle? It was the Holy Spirit opening your heart to the reality of Jesus Christ. God began your conversion before you ever stood from your seat.
Ephesians 2:13 says, “But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.” You were brought near, and not because God looked down and thought, “Look at all that skill. You’re on My team.” No. You were brought near by the blood of Christ. God saved you. You didn’t save you. You didn’t save you by getting up in the morning and reading your Bible or by no longer saying cuss words. You got in by the blood of Jesus alone.
2. Remember and rejoice that God is present in your circumstances.
God has not abandoned us to our circumstances. It doesn’t matter how dark the night is. Romans 8:26 says, “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.” Some of us are unsure of what to do with the Holy Spirit. We think of the Spirit as the crazy uncle who shows up drunk and makes things weird at family reunions. But consider how the Holy Spirit functioned in the life of Jesus. At His baptism, Jesus was anointed by the Holy Spirit. He was driven into the wilderness by the Holy Spirit to be tempted by the devil and overcame those temptations by the Spirit. He returned from the wilderness filled with the Holy Spirit. He began His ministry empowered by the Holy Spirit proclaiming the good news of the kingdom. By the power of the Spirit, He drove out demons and performed miracles.
If the Holy Spirit empowered Jesus, how much more do we need the Spirit? The Spirit testifies that we are children of God and intercedes for us in our weakness. God is with us always through the Holy Spirit.
3. Remember and rejoice that God finishes what He starts.
You should have no doubts about whether or not you can carry your salvation to completion. You can’t. Philippians 1:6 says, “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” God began it. God will finish it. God is never surprised when you blow it. He is never taken aback. You can’t wear Him out. You can’t do anything to undo the salvation He has worked on your behalf. You belong to Him, and no one can pluck you out of His hand. You are His. He finishes what He starts. That knowledge makes you bold.
Consider Paul. If you put him in prison, he’s just going to convert your guards and all the prisoners. If you try to kill him, he gets giddy about going to heaven. If you beat him, he doesn’t consider the suffering of this day worthy to be compared to future glory. You can’t touch Paul. He’s free because he knows to whom he belongs. He’s free because he knows God has not abandoned him. He’s free because he knows that God began this and God will finish it.
If you can remember and rejoice in these three things, you’ll be unshakeable, even in the darkest days. But we have a way of being forgetful of this rhythm. We have a way of quickly forgetting who is the Author and Perfecter of our faith. We have a way of quickly feeling abandoned. We have a way of quickly feeling like it’s up to us to bring this thing to completion.
May He who is rich in mercy save us from all that. May we remember with Habakkuk the truth of who God is and what He has done. May we rejoice as he rejoiced: “I will take joy in the God of my salvation. God, the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like the deer’s; he makes me tread on my high places” (Hab. 3:18-19).