Again and again, I am reminded by these joy verses that finding true, God-given joy is about looking to Him despite all that is going wrong. The end of the book of Habakkuk is no exception. From chapter 3 (ESV):
17 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,
18 yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
I will be joyful in God my Savior.
19 The Sovereign Lord is my strength;
he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
he enables me to go on the heights.
This book is one of the minor prophets in the Old Testament (called that because the books are short, not because they weren’t important). The structure of this particular book is simple. Habakkuk complains to God, God responds. Repeat. Then Habakkuk responds in faith. These verses are the very end of the book, reflecting that despite all that is wrong in the world, joy is available in God, the Lord and the Savior. He is the one who gives strength – nay, He is the source of strength.
Habakkuk’s difficulties and his response to them bring to mind the words of Jesus in John 16:33b (NIV): “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” What does it mean to take heart? I believe it means to rejoice.