Are you currently facing a difficult circumstance that just doesn’t seem fair? Maybe it’s cancer, or a wayward kid, a failing marriage, or waking up every single day with a part of your body that doesn’t work properly. Perhaps in your frustration you might be asking God, “Where are you?” or “Why is this happening?”
Sometimes our circumstances appear to be doing the exact opposite of what a good God would be doing for his beloved son or daughter. And this perspective can be very damaging and discouraging for us as believers.
If this sounds like you or a loved one, I’d like to offer you some encouragement. What I’ve discovered about God over the years –- both in His word and in my own life –- is that God’s ultimate purposes for our lives are often achieved by circumstances that seem to make no “apparent” sense to us.
The Apostle Paul experienced this firsthand. During his missionary journey, he was beaten, stoned, and rejected by those he cared about the most. In his letter to the Philippians, we learn that he is imprisoned and could be put to death any day. Yet Paul was able to stay strong and even joyful because he understood God’s greater purposes for His life to advance the Gospel –- the Good News. This is what Paul lived for!
He writes, “And I want you to know, my dear brothers and sisters, that everything that has happened to me here has helped to spread the Good News.” (Philippians 1:12)
Then, in verses 13-14, we learn how God used negative circumstances in Paul’s life to fulfill this purpose.
Paul continues: “For everyone here, including the whole palace guard, knows that I am in chains because of Christ. And because of my imprisonment, most of the believers here have gained confidence and boldly speak God’s message without fear.”
God used Paul’s imprisonment to fulfill His purposes for Paul’s life – to reach the lost by delivering the Gospel message, to build up believers, and to make Paul more and more like Christ.
These three purposes are the same for every believer:
- To Reach the Lost: To be an ambassador/messenger of the Gospel message, which is this: God became a man in human flesh, lived on the earth, died on the cross, and was raised on the third day so that anyone who believes in Him can have eternal life.
- To Build up Believers: We’re called to encourage God’s people; to help them grow to full maturity in Christ.
- To Become Like Christ: To be a servant of the Living God.
Paul’s life demonstrated that his circumstances alone didn’t have the power to make or break his life. The same truth applies to our lives. Our perception can make all the difference in how we experience our circumstances in our life.
And when we understand what God’s purposes are for our lives, our perception changes so that we are able to find strength and joy even if we’re facing difficult circumstances.
So in the midst of whatever you’re going through, what if, instead of asking the question, “Why, God?” you asked the question, “God, what are you trying to do in my life through this difficult circumstance? And “How do you want to fulfill your purposes in this circumstance?”
This week, we’re beginning the series, Living Above Your Circumstances: The Power of Perspective. In it, we’ll explore how to have hope, happiness and joy even in the midst of life’s toughest times. I hope that during our time journeying together in God’s word, we will enrich and enhance our relationship with God by learning how to live above our daily circumstances.
Keep Pressin’ Ahead,
Chip Ingram, Teaching Pastor
Living on the Edge
Founder & Teaching Pastor, Living on the Edge
Chip Ingram is the CEO and teaching pastor of Living on the Edge, an international teaching and discipleship ministry. A pastor for over thirty years, Chip has a unique ability to communicate truth and challenge people to live out their faith. He is the author of many books, including The Real God, Culture Shock and The Real Heaven. Chip and his wife, Theresa, have four grown children and twelve grandchildren and live in California.More Articles by Chip