EMP 2023 Day 4: Stephany Yi

Good morning everyone, most of you already know why I’m up here but for those of you who are joining for the first time today I am here because PD had asked a couple of us to share a bible passage that we want to reflect on through this year. There were actually several bible verses that came to mind right off the bat – not because I’m so wise and full of bible knowledge but because I actually suck and need to reflect on several passages to better myself so it was really hard to pick just one.

However, the passage I chose and wanted to share with you guys is one that has been on my heart for a couple of years now and it comes from Habakkuk 3:17-19. So if everyone could open your Bibles, I’ll read it as slow as I can. Habakkuk 3:17-19: “Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail, and the field 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.” Amen.

The book of Habakkuk takes place when Israel was being corrupted by violence and injustice. In chapters 1 and 2, Habakkuk has a conversation with God asking why he isn’t doing anything about the corrupted nation of Judah and why he is letting these people live however they want to. But little did he know that God was actually working in the background, building up the Babylonians to come and destroy Judah. But Habakkuk had a problem with that too because the Babylonians were even worse people than the people of Judah but God then explained that he already had plans to also destroy the Babylonians afterwards and that only the righteous will live. Which is why in chapter 3 where we just read, after Habakkuk’s conversation with God, he realizes that God had a perfect plan all along and learns to trust and have faith in him. So he lifts a prayer of praise to God saying that even when nothing seems to go right, he will still rejoice in the Lord.

Reading Habakkuk’s prayer was extremely encouraging for me and challenged me to be more joyful despite all circumstances. It’s easy to be joyful and praise God when things are good but when life gets rough, choosing joy is the last thought that comes to mind. I think the reason Habakkuk was able to say he will rejoice in the Lord in any circumstance is because he trusted God and had faith. As I reflected on this passage and on myself these past couple of years, I realized that a lot of my inability to be rejoice in God stemmed from my lack of faith and trust in him. After getting into pharmacy school, I became extremely anxious about being able to successfully finish all 4 years; after becoming shepherd, I was in constant fear that I would have to leave Dallas and finish school in Amarillo; after landing a job post graduation, I kept having doubts of if I made the right decision or not. I realized that even in all of these anxiety, disappointments, failures, doubts and hardships, there was always some big accomplishment of my life that I chose not to rejoice in because I was so preoccupied worrying about everything else due to my lack of trust in God.

For me, I think choosing to be joyful is harder than obedience and I think being able to choose joy in any circumstance is one of the most respectable qualities in a person because it takes great faith and self control. The first time I took TLBS, my spiritual assignment was to smile more because every Sunday, without fail, someone would come up to me and say “you look so tired” or ask “are you okay?”. And at first, I was annoyed at people for saying those things but then I had an epiphany. I am the one being annoying (to my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ). We are supposed to be a light for all nations but if the first thing people think when they see me is tired or not okay, I am not being a light…for anyone! If we as Christians are supposed to be examples of Christ and my face has tired, not okay, unhappy, written on it every week, what kind of image of Jesus am I setting? Especially for VIPs! I don’t mean that I want to be fake in front of VIPs and only show happiness to them, but I want to be like Habakkuk. I want to genuinely be able to rejoice in the Lord in any situation because of my faith in Him in knowing that even though it may suck now, God has a plan and he’s already working on it.

I actually decided on this passage last week but as this week progressed, difficult situations arose, and I kept wanting to switch to a different bible verse because it was already becoming too difficult of a task. For those who might not know, I got into an accident on Wednesday and so PD actually called me last night and gave me permission to not give my reflection today if I wasn’t feeling well. I wanted to tell him that I didn’t want to do it not because I was in physical pain but because my dad and I exchanged some unfriendly words and almost every ounce of joy that was in me had been wiped away. However, I decided to stick with this passage because I know that God is just super eager and opening doors for me already everywhere I turn to practice rejoicing in him in all circumstances. if I get a third tattoo, it will say “choose joy” maybe that will be the daily reminder that I need.

Last thing I want to share is from a daily devotional called Bread for the Journey and the devotional from a couple of days ago was titled Spiritual Choices. It reads “choices make the difference. Two people are in the same accident and severely wounded. They did not choose to be in the accident, it just happened to them. But one of them chose to live the experience in bitterness, the other in gratitude. These choices radically influenced their lives and the lives of their family and friends. We have very little control over what happens in our lives, but we have a lot of control over how we integrate and remember what happens.” So I hope that this could be an encouragement to you guys too to choose joy and also ask that you guys keep me accountable because at this rate, I may decide to throw in the towel tomorrow.