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by Minoli Haththotuwa
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“Though The Fig Tree May Not Blossom…”
(Habakkuk 3: 17-19)

“Though the fig tree may not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines; though the labor of the olive may fail and the fields yield no food. Though the flock may be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord. I will joy in the God of my salvation.
The Lord is my strength. He will make my feet like deer’s feet, and He will make me walk on my high hills.” (NKJV)

Israel was going through tough times. They were in the middle of a bad recession, with the failure of their crops, the loss of their livestock, an invasion by a foreign power, and nothing but uncertainty ahead of them. It sounds familiar! They were a nation in economic and spiritual distress.

The book of Habakkuk opens with the prophet lamenting and crying out to God about the state of his nation, and the unrighteousness of his people. Through the few chapters of the book, we see him praying different kinds of prayers, first questioning God and looking for answers, and then seeking the mercy of God.

However, in these verses (17-19), we see a shift in his tone. It seems like Habakkuk suddenly decided that he would not continue to bemoan his situation and feel sorry for himself. He had found fault with God, grumbled, questioned, and wallowed in bitterness, and none of these got him anywhere. He had given in to fear and it affected his health and state of mind (3:16). However, something happened when he decided to thank and praise God and to stay in joy. He was so strengthened that he felt like he could walk up a mountain. He was so filled with energy that he felt like he had a deer’s feet, to gambol and gallop and run up the mountain paths!

Friend, there is so much power in praise, and there is power in joy. These are two things the devil hates! Praise and joy have supernatural power to break strongholds and even heal sicknesses (Proverbs 17:22). When we praise and worship the King of kings, His presence comes down, and Heaven takes over. Kingdom comes! There is no telling what can happen in an atmosphere of true praise. It becomes an open heaven. Joy is the language of Eternity. There is no one miserable, sad, or depressed in Heaven. All angels and other inhabitants of Heaven live in joy, almost as though it were the fuel that they operated on. Joy is a part of God Himself, which is why we are told in Zephaniah 3:17b that “God rejoices over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love. He will rejoice over you with singing.” The enemy hates joy because it establishes another aspect of Heaven’s atmosphere on the earth, and makes him lose his hold over human lives. In the midst of Holy Spirit joy, people are often healed, set free from addictions and depression, and made whole in body, spirit and soul. One of the keys to staying in victory is to stay in joy, but how can we experience joy, when it feels like the whole world is falling apart around us, and our friends have turned into enemies, and there are bills to pay and no money in the bank? We can learn from Habakkuk:

• Joy is a decision and a way of life. Habakkuk said “I will rejoice”, and “I will find joy in the God of my salvation. Everything was going wrong around him. There was no food in the refrigerator and no pay check to look forward to. Some of his friends had been taken away in chains as exiles to Babylon. He had cried out to God for months and received no clear answers, but he said “Yet I will”. Despite everything that was going wrong in his life, he decided to praise God. He decided to walk in joy and thankfulness. Joy is something we choose to cultivate as a lifestyle. It is an act of the will and not dependent on our circumstances.

• Praise and joy go together because even when we are not feeling any joy, a decision to praise God can make us joyful because it makes our Daddy joyful. In turn, joy makes us want to praise God! One enables us to experience the other. Psalm 16:11 says “You will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy.”

• It is possible to always stay in joy if we always stay in praise. David wrote in Psalm 34:1-3 “I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth. He defines praise as focusing on the awesome attributes of our glorious God: “My soul shall make its boast in the Lord. The humble shall hear of it and be glad. Oh, magnify the Lord with me and let us exalt His name together.” This may not be easy at the start, but gets easier as we begin to take our focus away from what is painful and difficult, and we turn our eyes upon the goodness and glory of Omnipotent El Shaddai.

• Joy gives us strength. This is something that Habakkuk discovered. Isaiah wrote in Isaiah 40:31: “But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength. They shall mount up with wings like eagles. They shall run and not be weary. They shall walk and not faint.” When we wait on someone, it means we are serving them, in the same way a waiter might “wait” on customers in a restaurant. When we wait on God it is very different to waiting for Him. It means serving Him, through our praise and worship. This is why Isaiah said we could renew our strength by “waiting on” the Lord, because serving Him through praise releases joy, and “the joy of the Lord is our strength” (Nehemiah 8:10). This is a physically measurable phenomenon, as scientists have found. The human body produces endorphins when people praise God and experience His joy, which strengthens the immune system and positively impacts all the organs. Joyful people are said to be less likely to develop heart disease!

• Habakkuk had experienced the Lord as his Savior. He knew Him as his source of life and strength, and the one who lifted him to higher ground. He was not depending on his own plan, his strength or his works. He had decided to lean on his Savior, and flow with His purposes and plans for his life. He was content to simply worship Yahweh for who He is.

Friend, when things turn out contrary to our expectations there are three ways we could go:

1) We could cave in and allow the enemy to walk all over us.
2) We could run away and hide or take the wrong decision,
3) Or we could just stand where we are and wait for the Lord to move on our behalf, while we wait on Him in joy and praise, with our eyes on Jesus, and our hearts open to the voice of the Holy Spirit. This takes faith, but we have a Helper who makes all things possible for those who believe.

Get ready for transformation, breakthrough and victory. Get ready to walk in the healing and wholeness which is yours by right! There is power in praise. There is power in joy. I pray today that you will remember the goodness of the Father in your life, and thank and praise Him for everything He is to you. I pray that you will invite the blessed Holy Spirit to come and help you to praise and worship the Lord Jesus with your whole heart, mind and strength, even if your circumstances do not inspire you to be joyful or lift up your voice in praise. I pray that you will receive these keys to victory and that they will change your life as they are changing mine!

Minoli Haththotuwa. 17 October 2011

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