“Though . . . the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation.” (Habakkuk 3:17-18)
I first came across this verse when a friend preached on this passage for a church that was closing its doors after having more than 100 years of ministry. The church ended up merging with another church. He preached the message when the church was on the verge of closing its doors without yet knowing what its future would look like.
It takes extraordinary faith to be thankful in circumstances that are dire when there is no light yet at the end of the tunnel. It is easier to give thanks when we see the solution or we have hope for a defined answer. When all of heaven seems to be silent, it is a little more difficult.
The prophet proclaims thanksgiving in the midst of dire circumstances and a lack of clarity about the future solution. Can we be thankful when we don’t yet see the answer to our problem? Habakkuk seems to suggest that we can do exactly that.
Maybe thanksgiving opens up the heavens for answers and blessings to come down. We have all heard of the acronym ACTS – Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, Supplication – as a simple model to keep our prayers balanced. Maybe there is more to it than simply making sure our prayers are not full of requests for things we need God to do or move on. What if thanksgiving is a key to our request?
There were 10 lepers who were healed in Luke 17:11-19. Basically, Jesus told them to go show themselves to the priest. As they were on their way, they were healed. Only one came back to thank Jesus. Jesus replied, “Where are the nine?” (17)
If thanksgiving and praise are basic to receiving something from God, can we be joyful and thankful as we are waiting for the answer to our request, knowing full well that God loves to give good gifts to His children?
Part of being prophetic is anticipating the answer. In view of the answer that is coming, we can be thankful and rejoice. Even though the answer may not look like what we anticipate, we can still give thanks.
I remember years ago when I thought my life was heading in a certain direction, and then God changed it all up. The next thing I knew we were heading off to the Dominican Republic for missionary service. He supplied the bulk of our financial resources before we ever made the decision to go. So we gave God thanks for what He was doing. Sometimes we don’t know what we’re doing or what path we’re going down, but He does. We were asking for guidance; God opened the door so wide that we had no choice to walk through it. I remember saying to my wife, Beth, when an offer came in from one particular church to provide one third of what we needed financially, “I think we are going overseas.”
So it is that we can give thanks in the absence of solutions or provision. As we do, the answer becomes more obvious when it arrives on clouds of glory.
By Ralph Veenstra