What to Focus on instead of your Circumstances
A circumstance is something that is happening, or something that has happened that is fact; something that could be proved in a court. It is a fact that circumstances have happened. Sometimes we can alter our circumstances. For example, if you were sitting outside on a really sunny day and you were burning, that would be true, that could be proved, there would be evidence. But you could change that by moving inside.
But sometimes our circumstances are beyond our control, or are things we can’t change, at least not at the moment. And so, in life, we have to learn how to deal with circumstances we don’t like, that don’t suit us, or make us feel low, or sad, or annoyed, or frustrated or angry. And of course none of these emotions are inherently ‘wrong’, but if they aren’t quite what God wants for us and they distract us from moving forward with him, then perhaps it’s something we need to look at.
So, if you can’t change your circumstances, this video and blog set out 5 thoughts on things you can focus on instead.
What does the Bible say about circumstances? There are lots of relevant verses, but one of the most well-known is Philippians 4:11, where Paul talks about being content in any circumstance, content in both fulfilment and in suffering. Thessalonians 5:18 says: “In every circumstance of life be thankful and seek God.” And Philippians 4:6 says: “Do not be anxious or worried about anything, but in everything (meaning in every circumstance, every situation) by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, continue to make your specific requests known to God”.
The Bible tells us to keep praying. We are told not to worry, not to be anxious, but to offer up prayer and petition. Just because our circumstances aren’t changing, it doesn’t mean that we can’t keep praying that they do, and that God will intervene or God will help us. So, we can pray for circumstances to change, and it might not happen, but it might!
We can also keep thanking God for the good in every circumstance. We need to thank God for what is noble and praiseworthy. In Philipians 4:8 it says: “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable, if anything is excellent or praiseworthy, think about those things.” We are encouraged to put a positive spin on things. Even if our situation is really hard and our circumstances are really tough, what can we spot of God in there? What goodness can we spot in the situation; can we think about those things and can we give thanks for those things? Because God is there, we just need to look for him.
One the most important things we can do when circumstances don’t go the way we’d like them to, is find God’s peace. If you have God’s peace, then you can cope with anything because it’s a peace that passes all understanding. It gives us an anchor and security in times of trouble. Thessalonians 3:16 says: “the Lord of Peace grant you peace in every circumstance.” So, peace is what we can find and in every circumstance. We might not find answers we like, we might not find answered prayers, we might not find the circumstances changing in the way we want them to, we might feel hard done by, we might feel grief, we might feel hardship, but what we know we can find in each circumstance is peace.
But how do we find that peace? By listening and drawing closer to God. Jesus himself is the Prince of Peace, so find God in the circumstance by asking him to speak to you. I had a situation recently where a friend challenged me to pray for a Bible verse. Of course, everything we read in the Bible is a Bible verse, but you know when God speaks to you when you read a verse and it hits you right in the heart, and you feel it leap off the page for you. And in that situation, God gave me a verse for my friend. And that’s the kind of thing we can seek in any circumstances: to hear God’s voice and to feel his peace. Because even when things are tough, if we know that we are close with God and following God, then we can have peace in every situation.
How does God normally speak to you? Ask him to do it again and listen out for him. Ask him to make it obvious to you. Perhaps it will be in worship songs, in bible verses, or in things friends say to you, but ask and pray for God’s peace. Find God in the midst of your circumstance.
It’s also really important to keep trusting. Get to know God so that you can trust him better in every circumstance; you’ll be less likely to try and do things in your own power, in your own energy and your own strength. Get to know God so that you can trust him more, because actually God’s faithfulness doesn’t depend on the situation. It doesn’t matter that things haven’t quite gone the way we wanted, it doesn’t matter that things happening in the world seem dark and overwhelming. If God is God, we can fully trust him. So, get to know God better so that you can trust him more. God is completely trustworthy, that doesn’t change.
And finally, challenge your thoughts. Even if your circumstances can’t change, your thoughts can. What you make the circumstance mean can change; your thoughts lead to your feelings, and your feelings lead to your actions, and actions lead to results. So, one of the key areas that we can change and challenge in our lives is our thoughts about circumstances. So, terrible things can happen, but we can either approach them with a positive or a negative mindset. And of course there will be grief and there will be sorrow, but can you change your thoughts so you can say: “I can see God in this”, or: “I trust God in this”. You can catch your thoughts before they start to find meaning in a circumstance that isn’t there, and send you down a negative path. Are your thoughts coming from a place of lies or from the truth? Because your thoughts will affect how you feel and can make the circumstance make you feel a certain way by what you’re thinking!
So, keep praying to ask God to intervene and change a situation; keep thanking God for the good that you can see in the circumstance; actively seek God’s Peace and listen for his voice, because the joy that brings beats anything. Keep working at getting to know God better and experience his faithfulness, so that you can completely trust him and not worry or be anxious; and challenge your own thoughts about your circumstances, so they are coming from a place of hope rather than despair.
This Saturday, 25th June at 10am we have our next online Reflection, Coffee and Conversation with Sharon Bell from the Fitfish team. The event is free, and you can register here to receive the Zoom link, we’d love to see you there!