The scriptures bear witness to many who at their lowest moment have refused to insult God by allowing their desperate circumstances to dictate the lie that God does not care about them, love them, or is able to deliver them. Paul and Silas were beaten for witnessing about Jesus, but with bleeding backs sang praises to God at midnight in a prison cell, (Acts 16). 1 Samuel 30: 1-6 records David and his men returning to Ziklag, only to find the city had been burned by the Amalekites and their women and children had been taken captive. The men were so overcome with grief and anger that they wanted to stone David. In distress, David cried out to the Lord and verse 6 reports that David encouraged himself in the Lord. This stands as a great example to show us where to take our distress and discouragement. The Lord answered David and instructed him to pursue the Amalekites for he would recover all that were taken, and it was so. It is so important to hear what God is speaking to us when we meet adversity.
The book of Habbakuk records his distress at God’s judgement on the backslidden nation of Israel. God allowed the Chaldeans to invade, capture and carry them off, enslaving them for seventy years before restoration. Habbakuk trembled at the prophecy but declared: “Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines, the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat, the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stall: YET WILL I REJOICE IN THE LORD, I WILL JOY IN THE GOD OF MY SALVATION. The Lord God is my strength, and He will make my feet like hinds’ feet and make me to walk upon my high places…..”, (Habbakuk 3: 17-19). Habbakuk found that sanctuary available to all of us in the midst of distress where we can choose to rejoice IN THE LORD, the God of our salvation. We rejoice in the God of our circumstance, NOT the circumstance. When we give Him the preeminence that belongs to Him alone, we get the order right. Here we make that important choice not to allow our circumstances to dictate our hearts’ attitude to situations. As we bow and say Amen to God, (not the circumstance), we access the sweetness of His enabling grace to go through the trial. God’s word became the apostle Paul’s testimony, and that same grace can become our testimony: 2 Corinthians 12: 8-10 “I besought the Lord three times that it might depart from me. He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness”. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities , that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, reproaches, necessities, persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake, for when I am weak, then am made strong”. Paul’s condition was a physical one but God’s grace is available to us in every circumstance. We may be in His permissive will by our choices, but His grace is available there, too, to guide us back to divine purpose. The Holy Spirit convicts when we get side tracked, in order to re-direct us to God’s perfect will for us, purpose.
1 Thessalonians 5:18 exhorts: “IN everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you”. Here we have it, plain in it’s simplicity but encompassing a deep and profound work of the Holy Spirit in us in order for it to become our lifestyle, just as Jesus demonstrated in His earthly walk. This is the crucified life, a surrendered will to keep a thankful heart IN all circumstances, not FOR them, but to declare God’s sovereignty in all things. He is always in control. He alone is my portion. Nothing comes to me through His grid, but that which He allows. The grid of God. Jesus said: “Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God”, (Matthew 5: 8).
Don’t ask God to change your circumstances, He permitted them to change you!
Keep a thankful heart! We are often unthankful for certain things but God’s word challenges us, and then we have responsibility to choose it. Here we discover the sweetness of surrender. We can never outgive God. A thankful heart creates a highway for the awareness of His presence in our lives, with the hallmarks of His joy and peace regardless of whatever circumstance we find ourselves. We have that confidence and deep assurance of His love and plans for good for us. (Jeremiah 29:11-12).