Most people will tell you it is easy to praise God when things are going well, but it’s not so easy to praise Him when life throws you a curveball. We have been thrown a curveball over these last couple of years. Many of us have had a hard year. Right now, you might be struggling to thank and praise God. You might be having a hard time thinking about what you are going to voice to your family as you sit around the table and talk about what you are thankful for.
While many of you have most likely had a hard year, while our churches have had a hard year, I want to give you some reasons why you can thank and praise God this Thanksgiving. Habakkuk is probably not a book you venture to too often. He is one of the Minor Prophets, but his message is not minor. It is powerful. It provides several reasons we can praise God, even when life is difficult.
In chapter 3 of his book he says,
“Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, 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. God, the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like the deer’s; he makes me tread on my high places.” (Hab 3:17–19, ESV)
Habakkuk faced difficulties but he still found a way to praise and worship the Lord. How is that?
How can Habakkuk promise to rejoice in the Lord when everything around him is crumbling? When he is facing hardship and suffering loss, what is it that allows him to take joy in God?
What is it that allows us to praise God when things are difficult? I believe Habakkuk clues us into four truths in these three verses that allow us to thank God even in the difficult times.
(1) We can praise God in difficult times because God is unchanged (v.17)
Looking at verse 17, we see that Habakkuk paints a picture of loss for us. Specifically he envisions losing things that are vital to their economy.
- The fig tree is not going to blossom
- Fruit will not be found on the vine
- The olive trees will cease production
- The fields will yield no harvests
- The cattle and sheep will be lost
Losing all these things at once would put a major strain on the economy and the people of the land.
We know this to be true. Over the last couple of years our country experienced economic hardship because of COVID. People have lost their jobs, their homes. Inflation is on the rise.
COVID has not only effected the economy, it has also effect us personally. Some people have had to go without food and other basic necessities. Others have seen their marriages erode. Still others have lost loved ones. Others have lost their homes. Some have had to move away from friends and family to find work.
Surely, everything everyone has faced over these last couple of years has caused: An immense amount of stress, worry, anxiety, and tension.
I am sure Habakkuk felt these things too. But look at how he responds in verse 18:
“yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation.” (Hab 3:18)
How can that be? How can Habakkuk rejoice? How can he take joy in God? He is able to rejoice, thank, and praise God because God is unchanging.
Habakkuk says he will rejoice in the “Lord” — Yahweh — the great I AM. The One who is eternal and unchanging.
While things in this world change, God doesn’t!
In Malachi 3:6 we read,
““For I the Lord do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed.” (Mal 3:6)
In Hebrews 13:8, we learn:
“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” (Heb 13:8)
God doesn’t change! Since God doesn’t change, we can rejoice!
We can be thankful, even though everything around us changes because we know we can count on the Lord. His promises to us will not go unanswered.
(2) We can praise God in difficult times because we have salvation (v.18)
As much as we would like to think life is stable and certain, it isn’t. In reality, we are never far from problems in this life.
Not too long ago my dad told me about a guy on his softball team who was diagnosed with stomach cancer. One week he was playing alongside my dad in a softball tournament. The next week he was sitting in a doctor’s office being told he had stage 4 stomach cancer for which there was nothing they could do. He died in a matter of months.
Life is fragile and uncertain.
Or take my mom for instance. One day she noticed that one of her fingertips was turning black. After a series of tests, she was diagnosed with Scleroderma, a disease that changed her life and ultimately took it.
Life is fragile and uncertain.
Or consider my grandma. One night she went to bed just as she always did. At some point in the middle of the night, she had a stroke, which left half her body paralyzed and her unable to speak. She lived the rest of her life in a nursing home being cared for 24 hours a day.
Life is fragile and uncertain.
In February of last year, we heard about a new virus that was ravaging China. Eventually it made its way to the States. In March of 2020, life as we know it changed. Most everyone here has experienced some sort of loss because of COVID.
Life is fragile and uncertain.
But God is not fragile! God is not uncertain! Our salvation does not hang in the balance, it is a sure thing. Everything else can be taken from us — Our job, house, health, ability to communicate, our freedom, and even our life, but our salvation is certain. In Romans 8:1 Paul writes,
“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Ro 8:1)
Those who have repented of their sins and believe in Jesus as their Lord and Savior are no longer in fear of God’s punishment. That’s because Jesus has taken our punishment for us. When Jesus died on the cross, God’s wrath was poured out on Him, and all those who are in Christ no longer have to fear His judgment because there is “no condemnation for those who are in Christ.”
Since God is unchanged our salvation is always certain. For that we can be thankful, even in the uncertainties and difficulties of life. Since our salvation is certain we can and should praise God!
(3) We can praise God in difficult times because God is Sovereign (v.19)
God being sovereign means that He is in control of everything. As the One who is in control, He either causes or allows everything to happen according to His eternal decree. Hearing that might make us uncomfortable because it means there are things that happen that God could have stopped but doesn’t. But while God’s sovereignty may initially make us uncomfortable, it ultimately should comfort us because it means God is in control and He can and will work all things out according to His eternal plan. Isn’t that what we learn God is doing in the book of Romans? In Romans 8:28 we read,
“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” (Ro 8:28)
When Paul says this, he doesn’t mean that everything will work out just hunky-dory for those who are Christians. Or that every bad thing actually has a “silver lining” Or that every terrible thing is somehow actually a good thing if you learn to look at it properly. That is not what Paul is saying.
Instead what he is saying is that God will ultimately use everything in our lives to glorify Himself and bring us to salvation. The only way that can happen is if God is sovereign.Is if He is in control of everything. Indeed He is, which is why He can work all things for good.
Even the difficult things we face have a purpose — it is meant to bring us to salvation and to glorify God.
We may not understand how that is the case, but God does. Since God is sovereign we can praise and thank Him even in difficult times.
(4) We can be thankful in difficult times because we are triumphant in Christ (v. 19)
In Christ, we are triumphant over the evil in our lives now because none of it will separate us from God (Rom. 8:31-39). We will be triumphant over our enemies in the future when Jesus returns because He will vindicate us and destroy our enemies once and for all (Rev. 19-22).
Before Jesus returns, we will face difficult situations, but none of them will ultimately defeat us because God will keep us in Christ. In Christ, we will be and are victorious and triumphant. When we face difficult situations, we should thank God because He gives us the strength to continue in the faith, and He will one day free us from those situations, conquering our enemies and ushering in a New Heavens and New Earth where we will live in sinless perfection for all eternity.
When you face difficulties in this life, and you will, don’t run from God, rather run to Him, praising and thanking Him for all you have in Him despite the difficulties and hardship you are experiencing.
It is not easy but by remembering that:
- God doesn’t change.
- He provides us with salvation.
- He is Sovereign.
- He causes us to be triumphant in Christ.
Knowing and resting in these truths about God, should make it possible for us to stand and say with Habakkuk,
“Yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. God, the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like the deer’s; he makes me tread on my high places.” (Hab 3:18–19)”
Question for Reflection
- What else allows us to praise the Lord during difficult times?
10 thoughts on “How Can We Praise God During the Hard Times?”
It’s not hard at all to know why Christians praise their god when it does nothing at all. That’s the attitude of a sycophant to a tyrant. You are terrified of calling out this god when it fails its supposed promises from your holy book.
It’s no more than victim blaming.
Thanks for interacting with my post. Though I am not exactly sure what you are getting at. I believe God is much wiser and greater than we are. As God, He knows best. As well as the Christian God doesn’t provide what we want, when we want. If He did, He would be likened to a genie in a bottle. God, however, is God. He has the right to direct the world in the way in which He desires. The reason we can trust God to direct and guide is due is character. He is a God of love, grace, mercy, forgiveness, and justice, to name a few character traits.
Also, we all long for a better world. The cries for injustice in the news, as well as the utopian society books, movies, and short stories picture on a regular basis tell us that we all want something different, something much better than what we are experiencing now.
Christianity actually offers hope for a better restored world. Not not only now as the root cause of the difficulty is dealt with — sin. But also in the future, when God will restore and renew the world in which we live. The world will indeed be a perfect paradise. One for which our heart longs.
Yes, Casey, I know it is a common Christian thing to insis that this god is “wiser and greater” and that he *must* have a reason for allowing horrible thing to happen. Its the same argument made by any supporter of a tyrant when the tyrant does something horrible, “they know best. they must have a reason for…..”” killing the Jews, taking our food, etc.
Per your own bible, this god will provide what you want when you want it. We have that promise in the lilies of the field speech, in John 14, Matthew 7, etc. Anything, no exceptions, asked in JC’s name will be granted. The door will be opened immediately, not “some day”. This god will provide what every is needed.
And that is shown to be nonsense in reality. The excuse must be invented on why this god fails in its promises.
This god doesn’t even come up to the half-decent defintion of love in the bible, so there is nothing to show that it has anything to do with love at all. it is all about obedience, nothing more. We also see no mercy, since this god has no problem in kicking Adam and Eve out of eden, rather than explaning what went wrong, since it either allowed Satan in or couldn’t keep it out, killing David’s son, etc. There is no justice in killing someone for someone else’s actions.
That humans long for something better is no evidence that there is something magical and perfect.
Christianity does not offer hope for a restored world. It offers a claim that this god will kill everyone that disagrees with it, and then goes on to work with its supposed archenemy to corrupt the christians that are left, for one more bloodbath.
That Christians themselves can’t agree on what sin is shows that it is simply baseless opinion, everyone’s idea of “paradise” conflicting with everyone else’s.
Thanks again for the reply. The verses you quoted are out of context. They don’t tell us that God will give us whatever we want when we want, just as long as you ask in Jesus’ name. To ask in Jesus’ name isn’t a magical incantation. Instead, it means that we would ask according to His will. According to His wisdom. In other words, when I come to ask God something, I am asking Him based on His character, His wisdom, and His will for my life. To give an example, to ask in Jesus’ name for a million dollars and expect to receive it right then, is not in keeping with His character, with His will and His wisdom. It is a selfish move on my part.
Love in the Bible is defined as self-sacrifice. We see Jesus sacrificing Himself for us. Seems like a pretty great definition of love. Jesus sacrifices Himself on our behalf so we can experience all the joy and privilege of being a part of His family. We do nothing, He does everything. We experience all the benefit. That is love. We desire this type of love, just look at the movies and books. The hero dies for the people… Love is typically pictured as a self-sacrificial act.
Sin is defined in the Bible as rebellion. It is a rejection of God’s will, His reign and rule, for our own. We haven’t done that great at defining good and evil. Look at the world around you.
God will destroy evil in the world, as He sets up His perfect kingdom. This isn’t ruthless, instead it is in keeping with His majesty. We often forget that God is our Creator. As our Creator and King, He has a right to our life. The problem is that we don’t submit ourselves to Him. We seek to be the King in His place, rejecting His reign and rule. God makes a way for our relationship to be made right — He Himself dies for us. Those who profess and believe that will experience salvation. Those who don’t won’t. I don’t believe that makes God a tyrant. Instead it makes Him a loving God who is just.
Unsurprisingly, you cannot show the supposed “right” context that these verses should be interpreted in. Those verses literally say that your god will do anything you ask in JC’s name. No exceptions. All I see is a Christian who has to claim otherwise since this god doesn’t do this at all. There is nothing that has that prayers are only answered if this god already has a certain answer in its plans. If that is the case, there is no free will and prayer is pointless. You are lying, Casey. You have nothing to show that it is against this god’s “character”. You’ve made that up.
Sin is defined in the bible as what this god doesn’t like. Christians don’t agree on what that is, since all of you have different versions of what this god considers sin. You cannot agree on what this god’s word means. And yep, you have no idea what good and evil are per this god. You all make up your own versions and unsurpisingly, this god hasn’t made itself clear to limit the harm that such confusion does.
You have no idea what “evil” is in this world, Casey, as you directly admit, so your claim that your god will “destroy” it is meaningless. There is no evidence your version of the Christian god exists, and nope, no evidence it is “creator and king”. Again, nice to see a sycophant to an imaginary tyrant having no more morals than might equals right. .
We have a god that screws up in eden, either unable to keep Satan out, or allowing it and not warning Adam and Eve. Then it fails over supposed thousands of years to correct its failure, with a flood, with laws, etc. Then it supposed decides that the only thing that will make it happy is killing itself in a murder by torture blood sacrifice. It could have done this thousands of years ago, but this supposedly omnipotent and omniscient being doesn’t think of it.
No one has to die for anyone. That is the ultimate abdication of personal responbility. Killing a scapegoate is the signature of a vicous and ignorant being. Just like your god killing David’s son for the action of David. Your god wanted this bloody nonsense.
There is no salvation in wanting some innocent destroyed for you. That’s just greed and selfishness.
Thanks for the response, but it seems you have already made up your mind. I am happy to have a discussion if you are open to it, but at this point it seems you are already convinced the Christian God is not the one true God. I understand your hang ups. It’s our natural desire to want to reign and rule ourselves. To submit to another is not our natural bent. I’ll be in prayer for you. If you have questions you want answer to in the future, I’m happy to engage.
You offer a false claim so you can have an excuse for not providing what is requested.
Unfortunately for you, i have not “made up my mind”. I will happily consider any evidence you have, like that context you claim exists that somehow changes the literal meaning of words.
I do not have any “hangups”. And do tell which version of the Christian god is the right one.
You can, right?
As for your prayer for me, don’t bother with me since I need nothing. How about praying for amputees and burn victims to be healed by your god? But if you insist on praying that i agree with you, what does it say when nothing happens, Casey? Does your god love me as I am? Does your god find you not a true believer? Or is your god imaginary?
Thanks for your post. Very encouraging.