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Not defined by circumstances
I am not defined by my circumstances!
Say it with me: I am not defined by my circumstances!
Ever heard anyone say: “Under the circumstances…” Then list a whole litany of reasons they are down, depressed and in despair. Sometimes we get stuck in our self-pity and wallow in the mire. I have been there. I know you have.
While you are there, have you ever been rocked from your own self-pity by someone who was also suffering? Imagine dealing with a serious illness and receiving an encouraging note from a friend battling something much more serious, which would lead to death within a year or so. That note would be a treasure.
Because this is an example of grace and strength demonstrated by someone who is going through a very hard time but showing selfless concern for someone else.
This is what Jesus would do. Remember, WWJD? What Would Jesus Do?
Paul the apostle suffered much as one of the first Christian church planters. Wanting to go to his brothers and sisters, Paul speaks of an “intense longing…making every effort…[trying] again and again.” Clearly, he wanted to minister to his friends in Christ.
When Satan used circumstances to block him from going, Paul did not make his difficulties into excuses for not doing what was needed:
“But as for us, brothers, after we were forced to leave you for a short time (in person, not in heart), we greatly desired and made every effort to return and see you face to face. So we wanted to come to you—even I, Paul, time and again—but Satan hindered us. For who is our hope or joy or crown of boasting in the presence of our Lord Jesus at His coming? Is it not you? For you are our glory and joy!” – I Thessalonians 2:17-20 (HCSB)
Paul was afraid that in some way the tempter – Satan – had turned the believers, who were his friends, away from their faith in Christ.
“Therefore, when we could no longer stand it, we thought it was better to be left alone in Athens. And we sent Timothy, our brother and God’s coworker in the gospel of Christ, to strengthen and encourage you concerning your faith, so that no one will be shaken by these persecutions. For you yourselves know that we are appointed to this. In fact, when we were with you, we told you previously that we were going to suffer persecution, and as you know, it happened. For this reason, when I could no longer stand it, I also sent ⌊him⌋ to find out about your faith, fearing that the tempter had tempted you and that our labor might be for nothing.” – I Thessalonians 3:1-5 (HCSB)
Yet, Paul did not give up on His Jesus and the God-given purpose entrusted to him. Having to stay behind, Paul sent his trusted friend to minister to the people. Timothy went on behalf of Paul to reach out of this dear church. Paul could have selfishly kept Timothy close, but cared more for his friends in Thessalonica than for himself.
Satan always tries to block us with difficulties. If we elevate our troubles over our responsibilities as followers of Jesus and give up, Satan wins the battle. Serving others is not always comfortable, but Jesus calls us to do what He desires despite the challenges.
Do not be weighted by the circumstances. Rise above them and accept the calling of God in Christ Jesus to live above the circumstances.
Until next time…
Dr. Jeff Fuller is pastor of Rockford Baptist Church. You may reach him through the church office at 256-377-4900 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.