The book of Habakkuk is one of the shortest books in the Bible. It begins with the writer’s laments over Israel’s troubles but concludes with a beautiful affirmation of faith: “Even though the fig trees have no blossoms, and there are no grapes on the vines; even though the olive crop fails, and the fields lie empty and barren; even though the flocks die in the fields, and the cattle barns are empty, yet I will rejoice in the Lord! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation!”1
Who would have thought that I’d be writing an article on the topic of happiness and satisfaction after everything that we have been through this year due to the COVID-19 virus? After having experienced so much insecurity and uncertainty in the air, how could that be a time to think about happiness?
I looked at the mirrored wall at the gym as I moved through the tai chi motions and had the most surprising thought. I never knew I was so beautiful.
Let me explain.
When life gets to be too much, when everything around you seems to be falling apart, when you feel that nothing you do helps, think about Me. Think about how much I love you. Think about My power. Think about all your blessings. If you thank Me for all the good things in your life, the negative feelings will gradually dissipate.
I’d venture a guess that the Old Testament prophet Habakkuk isn’t very well known nowadays, but he sure knew what it meant to trust in God no matter how badly things were going:
As far back as I can remember, I didn’t like cloudy days, especially in wintertime. They seem endless and hopeless, chilling both body and soul.
Still, they are a part of life, so I decided to learn to like them, and now they don’t seem so dreary. My secret? Actually I have several.
Here’s a great verse: “The people of Judah and Israel were as numerous as the sand on the seashore; they ate, they drank and they were happy.”1
I have years of Bible study and learning under my belt, but I’m not sure I’ve heard this verse before. At least, its meaning has always slipped past me.
I remember when growing up as a boy in the USA, Thanksgiving was a holiday I looked forward to nearly as much as Christmas. I loved the fall season with its dramatic colors: the browns and yellows, oranges and reds, as the hardwood trees of the Ohio Valley burst forth with praises of thanks to God for the warm and sunny summer He had just given them. One last attestation to the glory of God before finally shedding their leaves and letting them float down to fertilize the ground.
When I was 17, I went with friends to spend carnival in the city of Salvador. We rented a very cheap house and slept on the floor like most of the locals. Even though our neighbors were very poor, they were exceptionally nice to us. The simple life they lived and the love and friendship they gave freely were the secret to the happiness and laughter they shared. It dawned on me, for the first time, that love was the answer for many of the problems of humankind.
In a video clip I watched on YouTube some time ago, one of the participants in a panel was talking about a trying time in her life that had led to serious depression. A friend advised her to put together a list of 1,000 reasons for gratitude, so she started keeping track of the good things that came across her path each day, and slowly the tide of negativity turned.