Summary: There is only one way to acquire real lasting joy and that is personally knowing the Good Shepherd.
Text: “Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation” (Habakkuk 3:18).
There were problems in the world when Habakkuk wrote these words. At the time, the Babylonians were very strong and Judah (the southern kingdom) would soon feel the pressure and destruction of the Babylonians.
Habakkuk was a man of God who had many questions concerning what was going on in the world and he was not afraid to go directly to God to seek answers. The world was as evil then as it is now. People were committing acts of violence that hurt innocent people. Many people were living ungodly lives, but seemed to be getting all the good-breaks in life.
The same thing is going on today. It seems as though people doing sinful acts are never punished. In fact, it appears that these people project a good image in the eyes of other people and tend to set worldly or socially acceptable standards. Why is this so?
The people who are cheating, stealing, mistreating and taking advantage of Godly people seem to be happy and joyful. They believe their deeds are good and that is why life is fine to them and therefore what they are doing is acceptable because they are in control.
These people do not seem to understand that God is still in control. He is the creator of all and He is all-powerful. He cannot tolerate sin and sooner or later the grand finale will occur, the curtain will close and their earthly play of living will come to a close.
Joy and happiness is only superficial and temporary for ungodly people. Real joy and happiness comes from knowing God, trusting Him, and living according to His Word.
All of us have problems and all of us face or have faced difficulties in our day. We are just like Habakkuk in that we do not fully understand why certain things happen. When trials and tribulations come our way and we feel the burden of heaviness upon our shoulders, what are we to do? When we feel as though we are at the lowest point in life, what are we to do? When we feel as though nobody cares, to whom do we turn?
We do just as Habakkuk did. We rejoice in the Lord. We call upon Him trusting Him to take care of our every need. We praise Him. We place our faith in the God of our salvation. He gives us peace within our being and joy and happiness within our heart. He provides the needs for His children and in turn we become the happy person He intends us to be.
“Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want” (Psalm 23:1). Sheep need a shepherd. Do you know why? Sheep are not very intelligent animals. They need someone to care for them; someone to lead them to new pastures; someone to make sure they do not wander off and become prey for some wild animal; someone to protect them during the day and during the night; and, someone to make sure they are accounted for at the days end.
You and I are His sheep and He is our Shepherd. God has given us a mind to make choices, but sometimes we make the wrong choice. There are times when we wander off the straight and narrow path and end up in the ditch of worldly pleasure. When this happens to us, we lose the joy of life because we have chosen to be disobedient sheep of the heavenly Shepherd.
We have traded our relationship with our Lord and we have replaced it with the ways of the world. The Holy Spirit within our heart speaks to us, but we listen to the voice of the devil himself. Joy, which is the fruit of the Spirit, is pushed back by the lustful pleasures of the world. “The works of the flesh are evident….those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God, but the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” (Galatians 5:19, 22-23).
When we engage in the works of the flesh, we are like sheep who have wandered from the shepherd. We are stumbling around in the darkness and we are susceptible prey just waiting to be devoured by the devil himself. We become a victim and not a victor.
Our Shepherd said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12). Jesus encourages us follow Him and dedicate our life to Him and He will lead us out of the mess we have gotten ourselves in. He will straighten our confused mind which is worldly and give us a mind filled with peace and joy.