My apologies for the late post, I was traveling outside of the country this last week for work with little time or access to finish this. Now I’m operating off of little sleep and jet lag, so bear with me. When I returned home from my travels, I had a slew of problems that arose in my apartment, making life very frustrating, including not having internet access to help address the issues. So many little problems compounding into such frustration that I actually used foul language!! I know, I know, I repented, but I did find myself asking God “Why? Why did all this stuff happen? I’m a Christian, I am supposed to live victoriously, more than a conqueror. Why wasn’t my apartment protected?”
A lot of Christians reach this point of asking God why these circumstances happen, and unfortunately the Church has not done a good job answeing this. A common answer is that Paul, and Peter especially, say we will suffer as Christians, but Peter is talking about persecution from being a Christian, and Paul is talking about suffering putting our flesh under and not giving in to temptation. Jesus, though, addresses this idea of bad circumstances in the Gospel of Luke, chapter 13:
1 Now there were some present at that time who told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. 2 Jesus answered, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? 3 I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish. 4 Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them—do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? 5 I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.”
6Then he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree growing in his vineyard, and he went to look for fruit on it but did not find any.7So he said to the man who took care of the vineyard, ‘For three years now I’ve been coming to look for fruit on this fig tree and haven’t found any. Cut it down! Why should it use up the soil?’
8 “‘Sir,’ the man replied, ‘leave it alone for one more year, and I’ll dig around it and fertilize it. 9 If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down.’”
From this section of scripture, we can see that people had these same questions about a circumstance in their day: several people died and they wanted to know if there was a reason. Jesus says no, but unless we repent we will also perish. Then He goes into a story of the fig tree, which on the surface seems unrelated, but in actuality answers why. The fig tree will not produce fruit, so the Master wishes to cut it down. The worker, however, intercedes for the tree, and asks for another year to work on them. How does this apply? We as people produce fruit, and if we don’t produce, we get cut off and cast into the fire (John 15). We need intercessors to pray for us to not receive judgment for our sins, to give us more time to receive salvation and produce good fruit. Without that servant asking for another year, that tree would be dead and gone. Similarly without our parents, grandparents, pastors and friends praying for us, there would be so many more problems going on in our lives. But now we are saved, we need not rely on others to intercede for us, we can intercede for ourselves.
How does this apply to my simple and pathetic situation? Well the Lord showed me that I never asked for protection over my apartment while I was out of the country. In fact He showed me that there are many, many things that I forget to ask for or pray for. He showed me that I take His blessing in my life for granted on so many occasions. I just assume that because I am a Christian that everything goes well in the background. But in reality, I need to be praying for protection, praying for every aspect in my life. Thankfully I receive grace for so many things because I have others praying for me.
Now how does this apply to our original thesis: what to do with your circumstances? First, we need to realize that not everything that happens is of God, which may sounds simple, but I know so many Christians don’t operate this way. They are Christians we are externally led; they are led by their circumstances. They think if a door opens, it’s of God. They think if a door closes, it’s of God. But as New Testament Christians, we are no longer externally led. We are called to be led by the Holy Spirit: Romans 8:14 For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of Godand Galatians 5:16-18 I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.
This helps emphasize just how important it is to learn how to tune into the Holy Spirit. Jesus said “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:27) and “However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come” (John 16:13). He need to be able to hear the Holy Spirit and be led by Him to learn what in our lives is of God and what is not of God. This allows us to discern which circumstance is not of God needing to be prayed against, and which circumstance is of God needing to be praised.
Second, we need to be praying ahead of time for our circumstances, praying for protection from the enemy, blessings over our lives and finances, wisdom for our classes or our jobs. We cannot take for granted that our whole lives will magically be covered by the grace of God. We need to be first living according to His Word and His will in order to be under His grace and favor. Any sin in our lives leaves us open to attacks of the enemy. When we reach that point, and we are praying over our lives, we can go from being controlled by our circumstances to controlling our circumstances.