Rejoice always?

As we follow the news broadcasts we are fed with so many negative stories. There appears to be very little to rejoice in these days. There is a very old song that tells us we have to accentuate the positive, and eliminate the negative. 


This seems to be what Habakkuk is telling us today.

Photo by Andre Furtado:

‘…yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior.’ Habakkuk 3:18 NIV

As we noted in our last study, despite the list of possible calamities that Habakkuk envisaged, he made a determined decision not to focus on the negatives but rather to set his sights on the eternal God. “I will rejoice in the Lord.”

Matthew Henry says, ‘Praising and blessing God is work that is never out of season… Fears are silenced, sorrows sweetened, and hopes kept up.’ (Matthew Henry’s commentary on the whole Bible – Sourcebook for Speakers – Eleanor Doan – Pg. 292.)


A Christian lady felt dejected because of her overwhelming troubles. As she walked along the street one day she met her pastor. He asked her how she was doing spiritually.

She replied, “Oh, not too bad, under the circumstances.”

The pastor responded, “So why are you under the circumstances? Get above the circumstances, sister – Get where Jesus is!”

  • On what have you set your sights? – The circumstances? – The troubles in life – or Jesus”?

It’s not easy to rise above one’s circumstances. Like the prophet Habakkuk, we seem to have an endless list of problems to deal with.


There are three possible reactions to the troubles life hands us:

  •         you can rebel against them
  •         you can resign yourself to them
  •         Or you can rejoice in them

The choice is yours.

How do you generally react to troubling circumstances?

  • Do you rebel?
  • Do you resign yourself to them?
  • Or do you look for a reason to rejoice in them?


David experienced more than a fair share of hardship, despite being God’s chosen king of Israel.

a) Shepherd to giant killer

King Saul Israel’s first king started out well, but then his position of power went to his head and he chose to disobey God’s very clear instruction. Therefore God instructed the priest Samuel to anoint the shepherd David as the future king of Israel (1 Samuel 16:13).

During periods of deep depression, David who was also a talented musician was called upon to play soothing music to calm the king. (1 Samuel 16:21,22)

War broke out against the Philistines who had Goliath a giant of a man as their champion. The Israelites had none brave enough to take on Goliath until David volunteered and slew the giant. (1 Samuel 17)

b) Commander to fugitive

King Saul then made David his commander-in-chief of the army (1 Samuel 18:13).

Jonathan, one of King Saul’s sons, became David’s best friend. They entered into a friendship pact. (1 Samuel 20)

David’s success as a soldier and his relationship with Jonathan was the source of intense jealousy on Saul’s part. As a result, David had to flee for his life. He had to constantly change his hiding place because informers disclosed his hiding place to Saul.

On several occasions, David actually had Saul at his mercy but refused to harm God’s chosen king. (1 Samuel 24).

Samuel, the prophet, died. After his death, Saul consulted a witch to call up Samuel from the dead for advice on how to defeat the Philistines. Although the spirit of Samuel did appear he predicted Saul’s death the following day. (1 Samuel 28:3-7)

c) Chosen king but challenged

David was then anointed king of Judah and he chose Hebron as his capital. However, the nation was still divided between Israel and Judah. Israel in the north was led by Ishbosheth one of Saul’s surviving sons. (2 Samuel 2:7-12)

One of David’s generals killed Abner the general of Ishbosheth’s army (2 Samuel 3) and David was finally able to reign over all of Israel and Judah. (2 Samuel 5; 1 Chronicles 11)

However, that was not the end of David’s problems. One of his own sons, Absalom, conspired against his father. He tried to get the people to revolt against his father. (2 Samuel 14,15) During a battle against David’s forces, Absalom got caught up in a tree by his long hair. He was then killed by Joab, David’s general.

Finally, David is able to rule as God’s chosen king.

  • How do you react when you know you are in the right but your actions are being challenged?

What really amazes me about this story is David’s reaction to Absalom’s death. When he was informed of his son’s death ‘David started trembling. Then he went up to the room above the city gate to cry. As he went, he kept saying, “My son Absalom! My son, my son Absalom! I wish I could have died instead of you! Absalom, my son, my son!”‘ (2 Samuel 18:33 CEV).

  • How ready are you to forgive when someone has caused you deepfelt hurt?


This same David, who experienced such unwarranted opposition, encourages us to rejoice regardless of our circumstances.

‘God Most High, I will rejoice; I will celebrate and sing because of you.’ (Psalm 9:2 CEV)

‘May all who come to you be glad and joyful. May all who are thankful for your salvation always say, “How great is the LORD!”‘ (Psalm 40:16 GNB)


When one gives serious thought to Paul’s letters they reveal that he experienced numerous circumstances which would have really overwhelmed most of us.

“Five times the Jews gave me thirty-nine lashes with a whip. Three times the Romans beat me with a big stick, and once my enemies stoned me. I have been shipwrecked three times, and I even had to spend a night and a day in the sea. During my many travels, I have been in danger from rivers, robbers, my own people, and foreigners. My life has been in danger in cities, in deserts, at sea, and with people who only pretended to be the Lord’s followers. I have worked and struggled and spent many sleepless nights. I have gone hungry and thirsty and often had nothing to eat. I have been cold from not having enough clothes to keep me warm.” (2 Corinthians 11:24-27 CEV).

Wow! This man had every reason to give up on his missionary calling. He could easily have adopted the attitude, “No Lord this is too big a burden for me to carry.”

Yet he moved above the circumstances to Jesus. He goes on to encourage all believers to ‘Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!’ (Philippians 4:4 NIV)

Whateve trying situation you may be facting right now, take to heart the encouragement of Habakkuk, David and Paul. Decide here and now that you will ‘Rejoice in the Lord.‘ That you will ‘be joyful in God [your] Saviour.’

And now, how about clicking on the link below and join Bing Crosby and the Andrew Sisters as they encourage you to

Ac-cent-tchu-ate the positive
E-lim-i-nate the negative
And latch on to the affirmative.

N.B. Scroll down to follow the words and sing along!

Have a blessed, and positive week my friends!


If you haven’t yet read the background to the prophecy, please do. It will benefit you throughout this series of studies.



Think of an occasion when you felt completely overwhelmed as a result of some unexpected experience. Or perhaps you are feeling overwhelmed right now. 

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Habakkuk 3:15 NIV

‘You trampled the sea with your horses, churning the great waters.’


“You trampled the sea with your horses”. The prophet recalls God’s miraculous intervention on behalf of Israel at the Red Sea when the sea parted so the Israelites could pass through on dry land. When Pharaoh and his army tried to follow, the waters returned to drown the entire army. (Exodus 14)

Despite the fact that this historical event took place centuries earlier, it nevertheless served to remind Habakkuk of the sovereignty of God—and gave him the assurance that the Lord could be counted on to save His people once more as he had done in the past.

  • Think back to that occasion you thought of at the start of this study. How did you handle it? Or how could you best handle it today? 

From time to time in life we encounter situations where we begin to feel overwhelmed and drowning. When we appeal to God to remove the trying circumstances, He often will not actually remove the waters that are overwhelming us. Instead, He may choose to make a pathway through these difficulties as He made a pathway through the Red Sea.


We are on the brink of one of the most important days on the Christian calendar. As I post this, tomorrow we will celebrate Good Friday. and reflect upon our Lord’s sacrifice upon the cross of Calvary. 

But today I want us to briefly give some thought to the twelve. When their Master Jesus was arrested in the garden of Gethsemane all of them became overwhelmed by feelings of guilt.

 a) Judas Iscariot

Judas definitely felt the most guilty. What motivated him to betray Jesus is a mystery. All we know is soon after Mary anointed Jesus with costly perfume ( Mark 14:3-9), “Judas Iscariot, who was one of the twelve, went to the chief priests in order to betray him to them.”   (Mark 14:10)

Upon Jesus’ arrest, he came to his senses and tried to reverse the procedure.

“Then when Judas, his betrayer, saw that Jesus was condemned, he changed his mind and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders, saying, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.” They said, “What is that to us? See to it yourself.” And throwing down the pieces of silver into the temple, he departed, and he went and hanged himself.” (Matthew 27:3-5 ESV)

b) Simon Peter

During what we refer to as the last supper Peter made a bold declaration.

“Though they all fall away because of you, I will never fall away.” Jesus said to him, “Truly, I tell you, this very night, before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.” Peter responded, “Even if I must die with you, I will not deny you!”(Matthew 26:33 – 35 ESV)

Jesus was arrested, and Peter followed at a distance to the courtyard of the high priest. On three occasions he was challenged with regard to his association with Jesus. Each time he denied knowing Jesus.

Soon after a rooster crowed, And Peter remembered the saying of Jesus, “Before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.” And he went out and wept bitterly. (Matthew 26:75 NIV)

c) Nine Disciples

At the last supper, the rest of the disciples, apart from Judas who had left to betray Jesus, echoed Peter’s words, “Even if I must die with you, I will not deny you!” (Matthew 26:35 ESV)

In the garden of Gethsemane after Jesus’ arrest we read, “..all the disciples left him and fled.” (Matthew 26:56 ESV)

d) John – the Beloved Disciple

John who had a very special relationship with Jesus must also have been overwhelmed by Jesus’ arrest. However, in the gospel of John he refers to himself as another disciple as he records:

“Simon Peter followed Jesus, and so did another disciple. Since that disciple was known to the high priest, he entered with Jesus into the courtyard of the high priest,” (John 18:15 ESV)

Seemingly John witnessed the whole of Jesus’ trial and sentencing. Then along with some of the faithful women, he was the only disciple present at Jesus’ execution on Calvary’s hill.

Their Master was dead and ten of the disciples were devastated and retreated into their overwhelming feelings of guilt. One hanged himself, and one took his savior’s mother to live in his home as if she were his own.


As Calvary drew near, on several occasions Jesus had warned those disciples that his arrest was imminent:

“From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.” (Matthew 16:21 CEV)

While Jesus and his disciples were going from place to place in Galilee, he told them, “The Son of Man will be handed over to people who will kill him. But three days later he will rise to life.” (Matthew 17:22,23a CEV)

As Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem, he took his twelve disciples aside and told them in private: We are now on our way to Jerusalem, where the Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests and the teachers of the Law of Moses. They will sentence him to death, and then they will hand him over to foreigners who will make fun of him. They will beat him and nail him to a cross. But on the third day he will rise from death. (Matthew 20:17-19 CEV)

Two days before Passover Jesus said, “You know that two days from now will be Passover. That is when the Son of Man will be handed over to his enemies and nailed to a cross.” (Matthew  26:2 CEV)

And even at the last supper, Jesus predicted his own arrest and their confusion. “You will all fall away because of me this night. For it is written, ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.'” (Matthew 26:31 ESV)


What Jesus predicted took place. He was arrested, put on trial, falsely accused and condemned to crucifixion. 

All the amazing things God did for Israel of old, cannot compare with what He has done for you and me when Jesus Christ His Son died on the cross for our sins.

There is nothing in all time and eternity more absolutely certain and irrefutable than what Jesus Christ accomplished on the Cross—He made it possible for the entire human race, (that is; for every single person, ) to be brought back into a right-standing relationship with God. He made redemption the foundation of human life; that is, He made a way for every person to have fellowship with God. The Cross is the gate through which any and every individual can enter into oneness with God. But it is not a gate we pass through; it is one where we abide in the life that is found there.  (My Utmost for His Highest – Oswald Chambers –  6 April reading)


“One of the reference points of London is Charing Cross…A little girl was lost in that great city. However, a policeman found her. Between sobs and tears, she explained she didn’t know her way home. He asked her if she knew her address. She didn’t. He asked her phone number, she didn’t know that either. But when he asked her what she knew, suddenly her face lit up.

“I know the Cross,” she said. “Show me the Cross and I can find my way home from there.”

“Keep a clear vision of the Cross on your horizon and you can find your way home.”
( from ‘And the Angels were silent” by Max Lucado)

When overwhelmed like that little girl, we feel lost. We don’t know which way to turn. Admit to God that you are confused. That you don’t know the best way forward. Don’t make any hasty decisions. Be still and trust the Lord to show you the way forward.


Paul exhorts believers to: 

“…stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” (1 Corinthians 15:58)

“Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong.” (1 Corinthians 16:13)

“Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place,” (Ephesians 6:14)

The prophet Habakkuk was aware that life at times would be overwhelming. But that the God who opened the Red Sea for the Israelites is still opening pathways through seemingly overwhelming circumstances for His people today.

Whatever the overwhelming circumstances you may be facing don’t despair. Don’t give up. Jesus understood how His disciples would be thrown into confusion at His death. He assured them that “…after I am raised up, I will go before you to Galilee.” (Mark 14:28 ESV)

Share your confusion with Jesus. Ask Him to provide you with a pathway through your problems as He made a pathway through the Red Sea.

If you haven’t yet read the background to the prophecy, please do. It will benefit you throughout this series of studies.