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Yet I will rejoice in the Lord

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Yet I will rejoice in the Lord

In our weekday readings, we are knee-deep in the grumbling of the People of Israel.  Today, for example, they were complaining to Moses:

Why did we not die at the Lord’s hand in the land of Egypt, when we were able to sit down to pans of meat and could eat bread to our heart’s content! As it is, you have brought us to this wilderness to starve this whole company to death!’

Caught up in the hunger of the here-and-now, the Israelites forget not only the misery of slavery but also the loving Hand of God that freed them from that slavery and now guides them through the wilderness towards the Promised Land.  They have forgotten that the Lord’s is an abiding, faithful love, which contrasts starkly with their own disgruntled, ungrateful and fickle complaints.

Contrast the Israelites’ view then with that put forward by Habakkuk (3:17-19):

For even though the fig does not blossom, 
nor fruit grow on the vine,
even though the olive crop fail
and fields produce no harvest,
even though flocks vanish from the folds
and stalls stand empty of cattle,
Yet I will rejoice in the Lord
and exult in God my Saviour.
 

The determined mindset of Habakkuk – to praise God in all things – is by far preferable to that of the moaning Israelites.  The trouble is, of course, that when ‘bad times’ come, it’s like standing on an upturned rake: we are caught by surprise and hit hard.  We can get wrapped up in the here-and-now and we can forget the enduring, steadfast love of the Lord.

How, then, can we guard against this?   By building up good habits in the ‘good times’.  If we are thoroughly entrenched in habitual praise, we stand a chance of persevering when the going gets tough.  Let’s start by using the psalm we will hear this Sunday (137):

I thank you, Lord, with all my heart,
you have heard the words of my mouth.
In the presence of the angels I will bless you.
I will adore before your holy temple.
 
I thank you for your faithfulness and love
Which excel all we ever knew of you.
On the day I called, you answered;
you increased the strength of my soul.
 
All earth’s kings shall thank you
when they hear the words of your mouth.
They shall sing of the Lord’s ways:
‘How great is the glory of the Lord!’

 

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