Deer’s Feet in Difficult Times


“For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Rom. 14:17, ESV, emphasis mine).

When I was a teenager, I was intense about everything. This included my pursuit of spiritual things. I had a “a zeal for God, but not in accordance with knowledge” (Rom. 10:2, NASB). The knowledge I was missing was a deep heart knowledge of how loved I was by God.

The result was that I walked around feeling like I was failing Him most of the time. I was convinced that I should be telling every random stranger on the bus, “Jesus loves you.” A dark cloud of failure hung over me because I was too shy to do so. How ironic! I did not even really know, the way I needed to, that He loved me.

How He has changed that over the years! What a journey it has been, getting to know His heart for me. Deeper and deeper into His heart has He taken me. And this, my friend, is where my joy comes from.

Joy is part of the fruit of the Spirit. That means that He produces it; not us. As we yield ourselves to His working, He carefully brings forth in us the character of Jesus. Jesus is a joyful God! In His presence is fullness of joy… because He is full of joy! So becoming like our Savior means becoming increasingly joyful people.

The thing is, real, lasting joy does not come from a specific set of circumstances. The emotion of happiness does. But joy is deeper than that. This is why Paul could describe himself as “immersed in tears, yet always filled with deep joy” (2 Cor. 6:10, MSG). Supernatural joy, the kind lavished on us by Holy Spirit, can and does coexist with sorrow. It can and does coexist with the painful hardships that often beset us during our lifetimes.

The Prophet Habakkuk expressed this concept sweepingly with these words:

“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.”

(Hab. 3:17-18, ESV).

Do you see the pains he goes to, to voice the suffering of an anguished trial? He uses no less than six different phrases to describe a desperately barren time. The external circumstances couldn’t be worse. And yet he bursts out at the end with an exultant expression of joy.

How is this possible? Where does he get joy when everything is crumbling? There it is: “yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation.” Real joy comes from the Lord’s presence. Since God is inside of you and me, we have the Source of eternal joy immediately available to us, all the time. And, as Habakkuk explains in the next verse, this is what He will do for us if we ask Him to:

“God, the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like the deer’s; he makes me tread on my high places” (v. 19). Even in the midst of the darkest of times, Holy Spirit will give us deer’s feet. He will supernaturally empower us to ascend to the heights as we draw near to Him!


Have you experienced joy in the middle of very difficult times?


30 thoughts on “Deer’s Feet in Difficult Times

  1. Jennifer, we live in difficult times. Paul made reference to evil times in his Ephesians letter. Yet we know the final outcome. I remember a time when my wife Ellen was taking me to the emergency room thinking I was experiencing a heart attack. On the way I said to her don’t worry about me, if the Lord takes me be sure you… through that entire 5 days in hospital I had peace and joy knowing to whom I belonged. As it turned out I did not have a heart attack. The Holy Spirits presence does bring joy and peace in times of trouble. Thank you Lord Jesus. Thank you Jennifer for writing this.

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  2. Jennifer, we can not produce JOY but all we need do is call upon the Lord, as so many in the past have done. When darkness surrounds us and fear grips our hearts, we must trust and believe that Jesus is right by our side, ready, willing and able to bring the JOY we need. The more often we do this, the greater will our joy be. Amen Len

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  3. Amen! The joy of the Lord is our strength! Looking to Jesus during difficult times by remembering He is in control gets me through difficulties. Also praying about all things, even the small details. He cares so much about the details of our lives. Thanks Jennifer! ❤️

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  4. As believers, our security is in His Truth.
    As I contemplate the “belt of truth” each day, I can liken it to several different kinds of belts. The most obvious is the soldier’s belt, where his weapons are found. But I also love the picture of the mountain climber’s belt, keeping me securely attached to the One at the top as I climb higher to be closer to Him. “He makes my feet like hind’s feet and sets me on the high places” – and His Truth keeps me from falling and backsliding. 🙂

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  5. A couple of years ago I chose the word JOY as my one word choice for the year. GOD taught me so much about joy and having it no matter the circumstances! All roads lead to HIS joy my friend. I have JOY in HIS salvation and forgiveness for me!! May you continue on your joy journey too!!

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  6. Well said Jennifer, thank you! I have indeed experienced His joy in hard times and to be honest, I tend to take so much of His grace for granted when things are all going ‘my way’ that I do not acknowledge His work in me as I should. I praise Him for His faithfulness and His patience, that I am learning to simply experience Him, and in so doing, finding the depth of joy only He can give.

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  7. Great word! Very thought provoking. Isn’t it amazing how God draws us into a deeper relationship when we open ourselves up to Him? As always your post gives me something to chew on and encourages me to spend more time in His Word. I liked what you said about Jesus being a joyful God and how becoming like our Savior means becoming increasingly joyful people. *I borrowed that whole paragraph and wrote it in my journal to remind me why I want to be more like Jesus. 🤗 Hope you don’t mind! P.S. I even wrote where I got it from. God bless!

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  8. When you are young, doubts and insecurity appear constantly because it is the training process. Then we understand when the presence of the Lord is felt and self-confidence is acquired. Justice comes, peace and joy are received with security. An uplifting read. I really liked your article.

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  9. Jenn, I saw a young buck bound through our backyard down by the lake a few mornings ago. It brought me such great joy to see it kicking up its heels and leaping through the air that I laughed and laughed! Yes, God has restored joy to me time and time again through hard times. You are right—the joy comes from Him. He pours it out!

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