“And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.” – Philippians 4:8-9.
Trouble comes in all forms – family problems, financial problems, emotional stress or personal illness, just to name a few. What should our attitude be during these times of trouble?
A prophet named Habakkuk had the attitude we all need: Habakkuk 3:17-18 says, “Even though the fig trees have no blossoms, and there are no grapes on the vines; even though the olive crop fails, and the fields lie empty and barren; even though the flocks die in the fields, and the cattle barns are empty, yet I will rejoice in the Lord!”
First, the fig tree didn’t blossom. That meant no figs. Figs served as a delicacy, so losing them posed more of an annoyance than anything else. The people missed out on something they enjoyed, but not on something essential. Next, they lost the grapes. Grapes provided the daily beverage, so losing them posed a major inconvenience. Losing the produce of the olive was worse. They had no oil for cooking or for lighting lamps. That significantly hampered their ability to function. Even more critical was the loss of grain. That meant starvation for large segments of the population. The final blow was the loss of the livestock, as this not only deprived them of food but also of their ability to produce it. Given a catastrophe of this magnitude, things looked very bleak indeed.
However, regardless of how bad it got, Habakkuk was determined to keep his heart from sinking into despair. How? By focusing on the bigness of God rather than the bigness of the problem. Habakkuk responded to this really, really bad crisis by rejoicing in God. Even in the most horrible scenario possible, he knew that God would see him through.
It’s not easy to be grateful when we face challenging circumstances. It’s even tougher to be grateful when things go from hurricanes to pandemics. The problems that branch off from these two things seem without end. It can seem like there is little to be grateful for. For Habakkuk, and for us today, we have to choose how we are going to react. Even though everything that was familiar to him was about to collapse, Habakkuk still chose to rejoice in his salvation. The prophet was reaffirming his commitment to the Lord. “Yet I will rejoice in the Lord.”
The question for us is what attitude will we chose if difficulties arise today? We can choose very little in life, but we can decide how we will respond to adversity and storms. We can choose our own attitude. Will we be joyful even though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls? Will our attitude be good regardless of our circumstances?
- Does your attitude toward God change in times of trials or problems?
- What can we do to have an attitude of trust and faith this week regardless of all the negative happening all around us?