I remember a story a Korean pastor used to tell of a woman in his congregation who would come in week after week with various complaints. When he would ask her how she was doing she would reply, “I’m ok, under the circumstances.” I love his response. He would always ask, “What are you doing under there?”
We all have circumstances, situations that weigh on us. Some that even may seem pretty dire. But God does not call us to be “under the circumstances.” God calls us, as Christians, to rise above our circumstances. Let me give you a few examples of what I mean.
Ezekiel, the prophet, is taken to a valley full of bones. The bones were dry. Obviously, there was no life in those bones, but God told the prophet to speak to the bones, to speak life back into them. And he did. He spoke and the bones reconnected to each other. Tendons, muscles and flesh returned to the bones. He spoke again and breath returned to the bodies and they stood on their feet. (Ezekiel 37)
God never told the prophet to call the bones what they were, he told him to call them what they should be. The circumstance was a valley full of dead, dry bones. That’s a pretty hopeless situation. But God’s reality was that they became a vast army.
Another prophet, Elisha, and his servant were in a circumstance where they were surrounded by a hostile enemy. The servant saw the circumstances and he was afraid. But Elisha knew God’s reality was more than what the servant saw. He told him that those that were with them were more than those that were against them. He prayed that God would open the servant’s eyes, and the servant saw that there was a vast angel army surrounding their enemies (2 Kings 6).
And the most important circumstance to a Christian is the death of Jesus on the cross. When Jesus died his disciples didn’t know what to do with themselves and returned to fishing, feeling hopeless about the man they had given up everything for. The situation looked pretty dire to them, but then Jesus resurrected. There was so much that God was accomplishing through the death of Jesus, but the disciples didn’t see it until they were on the resurrection side of it.
“Faith is the evidence of things hoped for, the substance of things unseen” (Hebrews 11:1). “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:18). When we speak of things how they are we are “under the circumstances.” But when we speak what is not yet seen, we are speaking faith in God’s reality.
Most Christians I know, would heartily agree that we should be about the business of faith rather than speaking negatively about our situations. The sickness, the financial situation, the rocky marriage – these can truly be devastating circumstances. But we know that God is working everything for good, for those that love Him and are walking according to his purpose, (Romans 8:28), don’t we?
There is one area, however, where it seems to me that many in the American church are “under the circumstances.” That area is the state of our country, which in some people’s estimation is very far away morally and spiritually from where it should be. Rather than being about the business of the Kingdom of God, bringing light to dark places, Christians stand back and criticize the darkness for being dark.
Under the circumstances some things may appear desperate, but remember God is not calling us to see things how they are. We are to speak life into what seems lifeless. We are to speak hope to those who are hopeless. The substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things unseen.
Maybe it is perspective. For those that view moral decline in our world as a sign of a soon arriving rapture and coming judgement, they may feel no compulsion to do anything but observe, shake their heads and tsk tsk at the circumstances.
But if our business is to seek first the Kingdom of God (Matthew 6), meaning to make the message of the Kingdom our number one priority, then no matter what the circumstances appear to be, we should always be advancing, always carrying the light to dark places, always speaking hope into what seems hopeless, life into what seems lifeless. I think as Christians in America that should definitely apply to our country. So, don’t stand back and blame darkness for being dark. Stand up and be the light. Speak life.
“For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world – our faith” (1 John 5:4).
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
I love Toby Mac’s song “Move (Keep Walkin’). In it he says, “Lift up your head, it ain’t over yet.” Let’s keep that in mind when we feel weighed down by the circumstances.
Written by: Sharon Letson