“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 tread on the heights”.
What brings people joy? Yesterday, I went fishing and I can tell you it brought me a great deal of joy to catch a fish.
If you were to go out on the streets and ask people ‘what makes you happy?’ I think most of them will say, their bank balance or freedom or good health or relationships gives them the most joy.
Now suppose if someone was to take these things from them, will they continue to be happy or joyful? Probably not. Take their money away, they will be sad, take their health away, they will be sad and so on. This is the way we human beings think.
But our passage shows us another way to think about happiness and joy. God’s word says that even when everything worldly is taken from us, we can still rejoice in God (v17-18) Even when our bank balances are in minus, our freedom is in captivity, our good health is sick, and our relationships are taken from us, still we can rejoice in God.
When this passage was written, God’s people were going through wars and famines, disease, and lack of food, it was a very down time. But the prophet still can say that ‘I will be joyful in God my Savior’
Why is that? How is that possible? How can we rejoice in the midst of loss of freedom, loss of good health and loss of relationships? Our passage tells us the reason, it says, ‘the Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to tread on the heights’. So why can we rejoice even if everything is pear shaped? Why can we rejoice even if everything is pear shaped in our lives. The answer is that the sovereign Lord is our strength. He never leaves or forsakes us. While people may leave us and abandon us, the Lord never leaves by our side. We may lose our health, wealth and freedom, yet the Lord is still with us. He is our strength and on this unshakeable strength, we can be joyful.
We can be joyful in the fact that if we trust in Jesus, we are held firmly in the hands of God and nothing can shake us. Later in the Bible we read that those who believe in Jesus have eternal life. Jesus died and rose again and he has gone before us to prepare a place for us. That place is full of joy. We can be joyful because we’ve this beautiful hope that this life is not the end, the Lord will raise us up. Because of this hope, we like the prophet can say ‘The sovereign Lord is our strength’.