Summary: Here’s a thnaksgiving sermon that uses a touching story to emphasize our need to be thankful in all situations of life.

"LET’S BE THANKFUL IN SPITE OF WHAT HAPPENS!"

HABAKKUK 3:17-19 New King James

[1]A prayer of Habakkuk the prophet, on Shigionoth.

[2] O Lord, I have heard your speech and was afraid; O Lord, revive Your work in the midst of the years! In the midst of the years make it known; In wrath remember mercy.

[3] God came from Teman, The Holy One from Mount Paran. Selah! His glory covered the heavens, And the earth was full of His praise.

[4] His brightness was like the light; He had rays flashing from His hand, And there His power was hidden.

[5] Before Him went pestilence, And fever followed at His feet.

[6] He stood and measured the earth; He looked and startled the nations. And the everlasting mountains were scattered, The perpetual hills bowed. His ways are everlasting.

[7] I saw the tents of Cushan in affliction; The curtains of the land of Midian trembled.

[8] O Lord, were You displeased with the rivers, Was Your anger against the rivers, Was Your wrath against the sea, That You rode on Your horses, Your chariots of salvation?

[9] Your bow was made quite ready; Oaths were sworn over Your arrows. Selah! You divided the earth with rivers.

[10] The mountains saw You and trembled; The overflowing of the water passed by. The deep uttered its voice, And lifted its hands on high.

[11] The sun and moon stood still in their habitation; At the light of Your arrows they went, At the shining of Your glittering spear.

[12] You marched through the land in indignation; You trampled the nations in anger.

[13] You went forth for the salvation of Your people, For salvation with Your Anointed. You struck the head from the house of the wicked, By laying bare from foundation to neck. Selah

[14] You thrust through with his own arrows The head of his villages. They came out like a whirlwind to scatter me; Their rejoicing was like feasting on the poor in secret.

[15] You walked through the sea with Your horses, Through the heap of great waters.

[16] When I heard, my body trembled; My lips quivered at the voice; Rottenness entered my bones; And I trembled in myself, That I might rest in the day of trouble. When he comes up to the people, He will invade them with his troops.

[17] 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--

[18] Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation.

[19] The Lord God is my strength; He will make my feet like deer’s feet, And He will make me walk on my high hills. To the Chief Musician. With my stringed instruments.

Thursday is Thanksgiving Day!

How many plan to enjoy a big Thanksgiving meal?

How many plan to take time to “thank God”?

Usually Thanksgiving sermons focus

on the abundance we have for which to be grateful.

But today I want to think about the times…

when things don’t seem so bountiful;

when things seem to be wrong;

when our cupboard is as bare as Old Mother Hubbard’s.

Yet there are, for those of us in the worst times,

much for which to be grateful.

It’s easy to be “thankful” when everything is going good!

But do we still feel “thankful” when times are tough?

Let me tell you the story of Adeline Hill.

When she was just a little girl, her father was very sick.

Her mother took in sewing so the family could survive.

She would sew far into the night…

with nothing but dim gas lights

and an old treadle sewing machine.

But she never complained.

Things were bad that winter.

Then a letter came from where her sewing machine was purchased.

The letter stated that they would have to repossess her machine

unless payments were brought up to date.

Adeline became very frightened when her mother read the letter.

She could picture the family losing their home…

Maybe even starving to death.

Things weren’t very plentiful in that household.

It is easy to thank God in the times of abundance.

However, tt is equally important to thank Him…

when things are grim.

So, though life is sometimes hard, let’s give thanks anyway!

Consider the prophet Habakkuk this morning!

What can we learn from this Bible passage?

POINT #1

SOMETIMES THE HARVEST FAILS:

Verse 17: 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--

The crops mentioned represent the hope of the farmer.

This is not referring to a backyard grape arbors…

which are there for "recreational eating."

The animals were not a 4-H project or pets.

This was their livelihood, their income.

They depended upon a harvest and their flocks & herds…

to survive.

Even though all that might fail,

there was still reason for gratitude.

Do you ever consider your life as a barren field?

Do you ever feel like your harvest has failed?

You might feel like that if:

Your marriage has gone sour.

Your job is in jeopardy, or you are unemployed.

Your doctor just gave you a prognosis.

Your health is unstable.

Your children live lives that bring pain to your heart.

Your finances are in a tangle and you don’t see your way out.

Your plans crumble, your dreams turn to nightmares.

You are not getting along with someone in your family.

You live in the shadows, nearly always depressed.

I would remind you that you are in good company

Job was there. "My days are past, my plans are torn apart, even the wishes of my heart." Job 17:11.

Moses was there. "I alone am not able to carry all this people, because it is too burdensome for me. So if Thou art going to deal thus with me, please kill me at once, if I have found favor in Thy sight, and do not let me see my wretchedness." Numbers 11:14, 15.

Elijah was there. "But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a juniper tree; and he requested for himself that he might die, and said, ’It is enough; now, O Lord, take my life, for I am not better than my fathers.’" 1 Kings 19:4.

Sometimes our fields are barren, fruitless and ruined.

But, let’s give thanks anyhow!

We need to remember the words of Psalm 42:5:

"Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why have you become disturbed within me? Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him For the help of His presence."

Transition:

Adeline’s mother trusted God in spite of a difficult time.

She did not appear to be worried.

In spite of the threat to repossess the sewing machine…

he seemed to be quite calm about the matter.

Adeline, on the other hand, cried herself to sleep.

She wondered what would become of her family.

Adeline’s mother said God would not fail her!

He never had.

Adeline couldn’t see how God was going to help her mother

keep the old sewing machine.

Transition:

When we don’t see how things will improve,

God’s Word in Habakkuk teaches us another lesson.

POINT #2

EVEN IN HARD TIMES, THERE IS REASON FOR JOY:

Verse 18: Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation.

See that word “joy”?

What does that mean to you?

Happiness?

Well, “joy” and “happiness” are not the same!

Happiness depends upon what happens to us.

Joy is an inner, not-based-on-the-circumstances sense…

that all is still well.

In the text, the Hebrew words Habakkuk used mean:

"to jump for joy or to triumph; to be glad, or to spin around."

In the New Testament, Joy means: "calm delight, to have a sense of being well-off."

Think about this:

We are happy if things are going our way.

But we can have Christian joy even if they are not.

We are happy if people are dim-witted and annoying

But we can have Christ’s joy even when they are.

We are happy if we are secure and comfortable

But we can have Christ’s joy even if we are not.

We are happy if we feel good and are healthy.

But we can have Christian joy even when we don’t.

Happiness is based on what happens to me.

But JOY is based on what I do with what happens to me.

There is reason for joy even in hard times because:

Sorrow isn’t the final word for the Christian.

Psalms 30:5. Weeping may endure for a night, But joy comes in the morning.

That sadness & sorrow you feel won’t last.

Jesus will take it away!

He will fill your heart with JOY!

For that we can be grateful.

God knows what we need!

And He provides what we need just when we need it:

Philippians 4:19"And my God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.".

For that we can be thankful!.

Even in times of sorrow,

we can go to Jesus for comfort & joy.

Psalms 16:11. You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

For that we can give thanks!

Transition:

Adeline’s mother knew the secret of having joy…

even when things were pretty bleak.

The day the men were scheduled to come for the sewing machine

there was a knock at the kitchen door.

Adeline was frightened.

She was sure it was those dreaded men.

Instead, a nicely dressed man stood at the door.

He had a baby in his arms.

The man asked her mother if she was Mrs. Hill.

When she said she was, he said, "I’m in trouble this morning!”

“You have been recommended by the grocer down the street

as an honest and wonderful woman."

He explained that his wife had been admitted to the hospital.

He had to open his dentist office.

Since he had no relatives there, he had nowhere to leave the baby.

He asked if Mrs. Hill could take care of her for a few days.

He continued, "I will even pay you in advance."

Then he took out ten dollars and gave it to Mrs. Hill.

She smiled and said, "Yes, yes, I will be glad to!"

When the man left, Mrs. Hill turned to Adeline.

She said, "I knew God would not let them take away my machine."

She knew that somehow, in some way,

God would meet her needs.

That’s another lesson we learn from this passage in Habakkuk.

Point #3

FAITH KNOWS THAT THE LORD IS ENOUGH:

Verse 19: The Lord God is my strength; He will make my feet like deer’s feet, And He will make me walk on my high hills. To the Chief Musician. With my stringed instruments.

See what the prophet said: "The Lord God is my strength":

The Hebrew words refer to: "an army or band of soldiers."

"He makes my feet like deer’s feet"

A deer is sure and light-footed.

"He makes me walk on high hills"

That means "He lifts me up above all my troubles."

Friends, the Lord is always enough:

"In peace I will both lie down and sleep, For Thou alone, O Lord, dost make me to dwell in safety." Psalms 4:8

"Whom have I in heaven but Thee? And besides Thee, I desire nothing on earth." Psalms 73:25.

When many stopped following Him,

Jesus asked the other disciples if they would leave, too.

And Peter said, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life." John 6:68.

He knew that the Lord is enough.

NOW…I don’t want anybody to think that this is easy!

Your pastor has had his struggles, too!

There have been times when I have been so depressed,

so discouraged,

so overwhelmed.

I thought there was no answer, no way out!

But the adequate, sufficient Jesus has always been there.

He has never failed to guide, strengthen, assist and protect.

For that I am unendingly grateful.

So,. if we believe that…

then no matter what we may lose,

no matter what may happen to us,

no matter how difficult the way,

no matter what we lack,

we can still be grateful.

We can be joyful and thankful

because He is able and faithful to provide what we need.

CLOSING

Are you in pain today?

Thank Him anyway.

Are you in sorrow or grief?

Be grateful anyhow.

Are your crops a failure?

Be thankful anyway!

Does your life seem to be coming apart at the seams?

Be thankful anyway!

WHY?

Because you still have Jesus.