Do you judge God by your Circumstances?
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‘…Christ lives in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.’ Galatians 2:20 .
Paul lived by faith. By what kind of faith? By faith in the Son of God? Yes, but more than this, he lived, day by day, believing that the Son of God loved him and gave Himself for him! This is the way to live, day by day – believing in all things that Jesus Christ loved me and gave Himself for me, no matter what happens! This is the faith that perhaps will not change our circumstances immediately, or perhaps will not change our circumstances at all, but it is the faith that changes us in our circumstances. It is the faith that overcomes the world. This is the faith that makes us persevere in trials and difficulties and brings us to a real knowledge that Christ lives in us and that He makes all things work together for good! It is a faith that transforms us and glorifies God. It is the faith that pleases God!
Now, how is it that some believers immediately think that God is displeased with them just because things go wrong sometimes or because they face difficulties? This is not faith. It is superstitious belief. Without reason, we think that some dark force is against us and wants to punish us. We dishonour God when we react with this kind of fear and negative attitude towards Him. Paul says,
“Three times was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, three times I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; In journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by my own countrymen, in perils by the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness.” 2 Corinthians 11:25-27
Paul was shipwrecked three times. Does this mean God was against him. Was God punishing him? The Bible is clear that the answer is ‘No’. Paul says that,
‘…we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.’ Romans 8:28
Paul faced many difficulties and trials but his testimony and teaching is that we know that all things work together for good for them that love God! This is powerful. This goes right to the root of our relationship with God. Does our trust in Him go deeper than what happens or doesn’t happen to us? Is faith just believing God to do things? It is much more than that. The trial of our faith is the thing that is more precious than gold. Faith is believing God when nothing happens, or when things seem to go wrong. This is true faith. It goes deeper than any circumstance. We are so fully persuaded concerning His goodness and faithfulness that no circumstance makes us doubt his love for us. This is faith. Listen to three men from the Old Testament,
‘If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known unto you, O king, that we will not serve your gods, nor worship the golden image which you have set up.’ Daniel 3:17-18
What wonderful verses these are! Yes, we know that God can save us from being burnt in this fire, they say. But even if He doesn’t, it will not change anything! We will continue to worship Him whatever happens! Some Christians start to doubt God and His love because He doesn’t seem to intervene in their circumstances. ‘He is all powerful. Why doesn’t He do something? Does He really love me?’ These are the kind of thoughts that are produced by unbelief and supported by the devil. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego did not hesitate! They didn’t entertain such thoughts at all. Irrespective of what happened, they worshipped God! This cannot be manufactured! This faith comes deep from within the heart of a person. It comes from a constant daily devotion to the our Saviour, to the God of glory! That’s why Paul says,
‘‘And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation works patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope: And hope makes not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who is given unto us.’ Romans 5:3-5
It is the experience of difficulties that teach us to put our trust and hope in God, and that cause us to know in a far deeper way that He is faithful, good and trustworthy! It is the faith that is developed through these trials that is ‘more precious than gold.’ This faith glorifies God and gives no room to the devil.
God promised Israel a land flowing with milk and honey and God’s people were willing to rejoice while they saw God working on their behalf by opening the Red Sea and defeating the Egyptians. But as soon as difficulties occurred, they fell into unbelief and not only accused Moses, but God Himself of being against them. They even said that God hated them and had brought them into the desert to destroy them! (Dt.1:27). This is where unbelief can bring us if we let it! How is it in your heart?
Because of this unbelief most of the Israelites could not enter the promised land! They judged God by their outward circumstances! But God has already declared His love for us and shown His love for us by delivering us from the power of the enemy! We are not to judge God by outward circumstances. We are to trust Him because of what He has already done for us, and because He is God! Our changing circumstances do not change Him! Nor should our faith in Him change just because our circumstances are difficult.
If you want to judge God by an outward circumstance then judge Him by this circumstance – Calvary! If you want to know how God feels about you, look at Calvary! God gave the most precious thing He could for you – He gave His only Son. He so loved us that He gave His Son Jesus Christ to die on Calvary!
‘But God commends his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.’ Romans 5:8
This is the circumstance which demonstrates God’s love for us! It is the greatest event that has ever taken place! Judge God by this circumstance and every other circumstance in your life will be put into proper perspective! Paul goes as far as to say this,
‘For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.’ Romans 8:18
Our lives are to be a daily living sacrifice of love, devotion, obedience, praise and complete trust in our God who has loved us and makes all things to work for our good. Paul lived like this and could say,
‘What shall we then say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifies. Who is he that condemns? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For your sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creation, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.’ Romans 8:31-39
Look at Calvary and see that God is for you! He is at work in every circumstance to conform you and me to the image of His Son! This is the good thing, this is the glorious thing, that He is working in us! This is what it says in Romans 8:29, which follows verse 28! What good thing can come out of this difficult circumstance, you might ask. The Bible’s answer is, ‘Jesus Christ.’ Jesus Christ in you, the hope of glory!
Humanly speaking we could say that ‘bad’ things had happened to Jacob. He ‘lost’ one son. Then there was a terrible drought. Then another son was taken captive. Then he thought he might lose all his sons by sending them down to Egypt again. In agony he called out,
“And Jacob their father said unto them, ‘Me have you bereaved of my children: Joseph is not, and Simeon is not, and you will take Benjamin away: all these things are against me.’” Genesis 42:36
‘All these things are against me!’ These were his words. Have you ever felt like that? The truth is that God Himself was in all of these circumstances of Jacob! God was at work to bring great blessing upon Jacob and all his family! What Jacob saw as ‘an enemy’, as a threat, as a danger to him, was in reality God’s own hand in his circumstances to lead him greater blessing! Some Christians too easily start blaming the devil when they encounter difficulties or when things don’t work out how they want. They get agitated instead of offering up their lives as a living sacrifice in that circumstance so that may might prove what is that good, acceptable and perfect will of God for their lives. (Rom.12:2).
Don’t think God is against you. Give yourself to Him. Offer yourself to Him, without condition. He loves you. And as with Jacob, so with you, He will continue to work in your life to bring you into the fullness of His blessing in Jesus Christ! God is not there to fulfil our dreams or ambitions, or even our plans! He works to bless us in Christ! Of course the devil is at work and does things to try and destroy God’s work and rob God’s people of their inheritance in Christ. But you will only understand what is what in your life and circumstances by offering yourself as a living sacrifice, completely and without complaint or condition to God daily. Otherwise you might find yourself fighting against God, thinking it is the devil in your circumstances, just like Jacob did.
Joseph, Jacob’s son, experienced much evil against him and circumstances that were extremely difficult and unjust – hated and sold into slavery by his own brothers; slandered by the wife of his boss, unjustly thrown into prison. But at the end of all this what did he say?
‘But as for you, you thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save many people alive.’ Genesis 50:20
What wonderful words! No bitterness, no complaints. Joseph recognised the hand of God in all his circumstances. Not everything was ‘right’ that happened to Joseph. Wrong things happened to Joseph. He had to suffer things, endure things, and be patient, but he committed his life and soul to God in all things and worshipped Him. He didn’t fight or manipulate his circumstances to get what he wanted. He didn’t think God was against him. God worked on his behalf to bring him into the fullness of His blessing.
So may God do in all our lives.